Success at work is all about knowing what to say, other times, it’s about knowing what not to say. Even good people sometimes say things that inadvertently hurt productivity or morale in the group. Steer clear of each of these and you’ll be on your way to positive, productive conversation. Here are the five common phrases to avoid.
1. That’s not my job
Even when it’s technically true, it never inspires and it’s never helpful. When you say, that’s not my job, what you’re really saying is, I’m here for me, not you and I can’t be bothered with the needs of the team. If you don’t have time to help someone, that’s fine. Tell them you’ll help them later. But don’t dismiss them with, that’s not my job.
2. I told you so
If someone does something after you advised them against it, and it fails, your goal is to be helpful and understanding. I told you so is derogatory, demeaning and immature. And it never helps, it only inflames the person. So better off saying nothing at all.
3. It’s not part of the procedure
They might reference a policy or simply the way something that has always been done. We know that there are rules that can’t be broken and others that can be bent. If progress is within reach and the solution is new, or if it’s not clear whether the solution follows your typical rules and processes, you should probably act. Avoid danger and breaking actual laws, but remember that most rules are not absolute.
4. There’s no budget for that
If someone smells extra work ahead based on some proposed solution, they might say it’s not in the budget. Smart leaders are good with budgets, but they know that budgets are only guidelines. In the face of great solutions they look past the numbers and make the right decision, then fix the budget by moving around other priorities.
5. We’ve tried that before
This is often a common response when discussing a problem at work, and someone suggests a possible solution. It’s a type of excuse people use to avoid the extra work associated with change. Maybe what was proposed has been tried, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a new approach. Even if you’ve struggled in the past without success on this issue, don’t quit before you even try with a phrase like we’ve tried that before.
Great conversation is the backbone of team productivity. Remember the 5 phrases to avoid and you might be surprised how many people start listening to you.