A Short Guide on What Not to Say at Work

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 15 Aug 2018


The average person spends more waking time at work than anywhere else, which is why it can become easy to relax and let your guard down. But one wrong word or thoughtless response can ruin a reputation and stick with you for a long time, especially in the workplace.

Using the right words is important when talking to your manager or trying to manage your team. You don’t want to give a negative impression, neither do you want to appear lazy or uninterested.

So, here are some phrases you should avoid at work.

“It’s not fair”

She got a pay rise, you didn’t. He was recognised, you weren’t. Don’t you deserve the same for working hard?

Simply complaining about unfairness isn’t going to change the situation. Identify more concrete, fact-based objections to a situation that you want to change rather than relying on an emotional appeal. So if you think you deserve a rise, make a list of reasons why rather than pointing at your colleague’s payslip.

“That’s not my job”

Saying this can make you look extremely stubborn, lazy and unconcerned about the company’s success. Regardless of how inconvenient or inappropriate a request may be, it is likely to be important to the other person or they would not have asked.

A poor attitude can severely damage your career development. On the other hand, showing a readiness to take on tasks outside your job description can ingratiate you with your manager.

“It’s all your fault”

It never looks good to throw blame at others. Even if the issue does come down to someone else’s mistake, blaming them never solves the problem. More likely, it will wreck business relationships and damage your career.

Try to be more supportive if you recognise a mistake made by a colleague. If you are blamed for something you didn’t do, it’s better to explain calmly what caused the issue instead of focusing on who caused it.

“I didn’t have the time”

There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you or your project isn’t a priority, and that is exactly what it feels like when you say this to a colleague. Even if it’s the truth, saying this will make them feel unimportant.

Whether you didn’t make time for the task or simply forgot about it, giving them a time when it will be done would be a good alternative to explaining why it’s late.

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Office politics can be devastating. While you may be involved in closed-door meetings with colleagues or managers, don’t say anything in private at work that you wouldn’t want said in public. You never know when it could come back to bite you.