If you want to earn respect from your colleagues, then you must mind your language. Your words and expressions can either make or mar you. They can sometimes make you sound intelligent and competent or vice versa. So, be careful!
Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is a really large matter. It is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
If you want to be a high-performing employee or team player, then you will spend a lot of time relating with your colleagues to get things done. In business, time is of the essence during communication. And every conversation people hold with each other at the office is done with a goal in mind. As such, it is better to pass your message in simple explanatory, non-clichéd terms.
Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Gets Results, explains that “Words matter, they are a key component of persuasive communication. Regardless of the topic, whether the setting is a stand-up presentation, sit down conversation, telephone discussion or an online meeting, a leader uses language to influence someone’s mind in order to achieve a certain result. That’s one reason they’re seen as leaders, their words compel people to follow”.
Therefore, if you want to be considered a leader you must be conscious of what you say.
Ensure that your words encourage and uplift and retains people’s attention in as much as you are trying to pass a message across.
Price further opines that “To the speaker, they may seem like harmless words, however, to the listener they reveal a more critical issue. In a workplace where employers must be edge-cutting, competitive and cost-effective, employees who use these phrases will likely be replaced with those who convey a more positive attitude, collaborative spirit, proactive behaviour and professional demeanour”. Never use the following expressions at the office.
1. That’s not my problem or I don’t get paid for this
Getting such a reply when you ask someone for a favour can be discouraging. Such a flippant statement may leave the receiver feeling awful, putting the giver in a bad light. It may also stunt career growth.
When turning down requests, a more appropriate way to say it is, “I will be more than glad to help you but I am presently occupied with something else”.
2. You Guys
This is the most informal statement to be used at the workplace. It is slang and is best used in less formal settings. In a CNBC interview, Ace interview coach, Barry Drexler, explains that using guys in a formal setting is wrong because “They talk like they are talking to one of their buddies, it drives me nut’’. Rather he suggests referring to the company or individual by its actual name.
3. I feel, I’ll try
Using the phrase “I feel” is inappropriate because it sounds unintelligent. Ace writer and Editor at GQ Magazine, Ross McCammon said, “You may think at work but you may not feel”.
Generally, the phrase implies doubts in one’s opinion and ability. Alternatively, use “I believe’’ or “I am certain’’. This makes for a good personality statement.
Try is another word that you must drop at the workplace. It mostly connotes uncertainty. It is vague a statement.
Assuming someone tells you “Please I need the paperwork ready by Friday” and you respond with “I will try’’. It shows no sense of commitment and certainty.
The word try implies probability. It shows that you are not confident in your ability to deliver. It is better to state a definite time that you will get it done and submitted.
4. Calm Down
A popular quote goes, “Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down”.
Calm down has a 99% chance of triggering the opposite effect. When a colleague vents out anger or frustration by speaking up, telling them to calm down while they are still talking can worsen the situation.
The most sensible thing to do is to maintain silence and listen. Listen actively without trying to brush their opinions aside. If you must speak, ensure that you use such as “I understand,” “I can imagine,” or “I get your point”.
5. It’s not fair, I’m sorry to bother you
Using such statements at work is highly unprofessional and it makes you sound immature. More so, if things aren’t going the way they ought to be, the best is to have an honest, open conversation with the parties involved.
It is more professional to say “Can we set aside some time to talk about XYZ issues?’’ This will set the stage for a better conversation.
Also, there is no point considering yourself a bother when in fact you have not done anything wrong. If you are already apologising for something you have not done then there is no need to do it in the first place.
Alternatively, you can say “Do you have a moment please?’’ “Can I talk to you for a moment?”
These statements make you sound tensed and unsure of yourself. They can make you come across as timid. Do away with the apologetic demeanour. When you apologise at the slightest whim, then your real apologies will carry no weight.
Mind your expressions at work. Your words can either earn or make you lose respect.
Your skill at using words can either make you a candidate for promotion or jeopardize your professional life. These phrases may be initially difficult to eliminate from your vocabulary but with constant practice, you will be a pro in no time.