Manners & Misdemeanors

7 Phrases to Use at Work to Make You More Successful

Expert communication is the key to success.
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As you climb the corporate ladder to the top, it's best to watch what you say and how you say it.

To help, we've formulated a list of common phrases that may be hurting your work life and we've prepared alternative statements to help you turn any conflict around.

When you say you can’t do something, you’re also drawing the line on your abilities and competence. When you come as the bearer of bad news, make sure you present it with some positivity. Being the Negative Nancy will affect the whole dynamic of the team. Always come prepared to counter a ‘can’t’ with a suggestion that you feel will work better. For instance, if you can't make it to a meeting, say, "This date doesn't fit my schedule, but we can meet the day after instead."

If for some reason, you physically cannot attend to something that you were tasked to do, provide a simple explanation and enlist the help of another co-worker. If you do this, ensure that you take full responsibility for your co-worker’s output.

 

Starting your business e-mail or any message with lines of "regrets" may cause unnecessary panic in the seconds leading up to the part where you address any menial concerns. In 2011, Apple’s Genius Bar banned the use of the word “unfortunately,” which is a much more positive spin to “we regret to inform you,” and instead replaced this with “as it turns out” to sound less negative.

 

Try not to cast the first stone of blame by stating that someone “should have” done something a particular way. Lynda Zugec from The Workforce Consultants tells Forbes that by saying this, you automatically put yourself in the position of a superior. To remedy this, she suggests that you present an alternative behavior or help one come to their own solution.

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When you start off by stating how busy you’ve been, you are alternatively saying that the person or task you’re addressing was not your top priority. Some might also perceive it to mean you are inefficient with managing your time.

It’s all about the perception of time, the value of which is given and taken when it comes to business. Instead of appearing like someone is taking your time, you should word it to show that you’re happy to be spending your time with someone, especially if it’s a working relationship that needs cementing.

 

Don’t get us wrong. You don’t have to have an answer to every question you’re asked, you just have to show the willingness to provide an answer. “In the business world, a person who speaks with confidence is likely to be perceived as competent,” says Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching. Instead, she suggests saying, “Good question, I’ll find out.”

 

When discussing opposing opinions on a matter, a simple ‘no’ can be direct but can also come off as harsh. You owe the person you’re negating the explanation of your stance, so it’s best to provide curt reasoning. Never say you’re disagreeing with someone since that will sound personal, but smoothly segue to a proposed alternative instead.

You might think apologizing is polite, but apologizing excessively can get tiring to listen to. It also renders you powerless or makes you look insecure. The chronic apologizer must try to find other ways to address a mishap. So, instead of saying “I’m so sorry but I’m running a little late,” you could say, “Thank you for waiting for me, I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Fast Company editor Kat Boogaard found that swapping ‘sorry’ for more gratuitous words helped her move on from her mistake quicker.

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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