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10 Unprofessional Phrases to Eliminate from Your Speech

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As you move through your working day, you may have plenty of thoughts and feelings you’d like to express. But if you’re like most professionals, you may not spend much time thinking about HOW you say these things. And you may not realize that some of your feelings and thoughts shouldn’t be expressed at all, at least not at work. Before you open your mouth to share what’s on your mind, take a minute to consider your syntax, your language, and the implications of your word choices. Watch out for the phrases below, all of which can undermine your reputation and hold back your career growth.

I’m exhausted.

If you’re overburdened and you need your boss to redistribute the workload so you can perform at your best, it’s okay to say so. You’re not doing the company or its customers any favors by completing mediocre work because you’re burned out. But think first. Point your cry for help at the right audience, at the right time, and in the right place. Don’t just complain in the break room to anyone who will listen.

I’m bored.

If you’re bored, find something constructive to do, or ask your higher-ups for a new task or responsibility to take on. Boredom suggests a lack of resourcefulness.

I’m so hungover.

Don’t share anything about your personal life that suggests sloppiness, recklessness, addiction, or immaturity. Overdrinking fits into all of these categories.

I can’t go home, I have too much to do.

Again, keep your office persona tight, cool, and collected. If you “want” to go home but you “can’t”, it might mean your time-management skills are weak. Do what you need to do to gain control over your work-life balance.

Anything involving curse words.

A gutter mouth shows a lack of dignity and suggests that you don’t have the vocabulary to express yourself clearly. It doesn’t give you street cred, at least not in this environment.

Don’t tell anyone, but...

If you’re being dishonest with someone else, why should your listener trust you?

You need to do this for me.

Nobody NEEDS to do anything for you, unless that person is a) your boss, who needs to provide you with the resources your job requires, or b) your direct report, who is being paid to do as you ask. Don’t direct this phrase at anyone else.

You should/shouldn’t...

When you’re engaging in social chatter at work, make an effort not sound judgmental. Don’t advise unless you’re asked for advice.

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

You don’t know what other people know. And chances are, they know more than you realize. If you’re gently trying to shut someone up before he embarrasses himself, find a diplomatic way to send your message – one that does not involve this phrase.

You want/ you think/ you feel...

Don’t tell other people what they think, feel, or want unless your statement is phrased as a question. This can be especially damaging move in the workplace. Ask and listen, don’t state and assume.

For more on the kinds of simple moves that can push you ahead or hold you back at work, reach out to the career management experts at Cordia.