What are the phrases you should avoid in the workplace? We reveal the top ten most irritating and annoying phrases that are guaranteed to wind up your colleagues…
This article was originally published in June.
Some are just totally meaningless pieces of jargon – thrown into the conversation to disguise the fact that you have don’t know what you talking about. Others are downright rude or deliberately confusing. While some of the things we say at work just make us look stupid.
So, what are the phrases to avoid? Well the top 10 most irritating and annoying phrases to say at work (things that are guaranteed to wind up your colleagues) are:
1. With all due respect
When someone says this, what do they actually mean?
Often, it is the exact opposite… this is just a passive/aggressive way of saying, “I know better than you”. Respect you? Well, they obviously don’t.
So, it is probably no surprise that these four words really wind us up and have been voted the most aggravating in the workplace by around half of those surveyed by CV-Library. If you are ever tempted to use this phrase (even ironically), don’t.
2. Reach out
The problem with this phrase, is that it can have so many meanings. When you thank someone for “reaching out” to you, are you implying they are offering to help you or that they are asking for help? Telling someone else to do this (as in ‘go and reach out to accounts’) is patronising particularly if what you really want them to do is make contact in a highly professional manner.
While “I’ll get my people to reach out to you” is incredibly confusing. What does mean? That they will be in touch next week? Or is this just a polite way of saying “don’t call us and we won’t call you”?
3. At the end of the day and 4. It is what it is
So, the boss is stumped…and cannot think of a solution. So, they say “it is what it is” as a way of saying let’s just accept a bad situation. Worse, “at the end of the day” implies that what will be, will be. Put the two phrases together – At the end of the day, it is what it is – and you might as well throw your hands in the air and give up. Please: just say it like it is.
5. Think outside the box
What is wrong with telling someone to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions? Context. Generally, you are told to “think outside the box” when everyone else is stumped for ideas. So, you are being asked to do the impossible. Also, most organisations don’t actually welcome unconventional and original thinking.
6. Let’s regroup
This is another phrase that has too many meanings. Is this a polite way of telling a group that they are all useless and new people need to be brought into the meeting? Or that you need fresh ideas? Or just more time to think of new ideas? Confused? You will be.
7. Can I borrow you for a second? and 8. Have you got two minutes?
Another irritating habit is using a euphemism to impose on your time when you are already extremely busy. Let’s face facts: the interruption is never for two minutes let alone a second. The person who uses this phrase, knows you would refuse to give up your afternoon to help them. But when they pretend that all they need is just a small amount of your time, it is really hard to say “’no” without appearing difficult. Irritating, isn’t it? When you are tempted to use either of these phrases, think about that.
9. At this moment in time
This is a great way to obfuscate when you do not have a clue/haven’t completed the project/forgot to follow a lead/don’t want to commit to a yes or no. etc. So, “Is the client going to make that purchase?”. Answer: “At this moment in time, they are considering it”. The truth? Anyone’s guess.
10. Get the ball rolling
This is a bit last century when sporting metaphors dominated the world of business gobbledegook. Remember: “pass the ball”, “left field”, and “knocking it out of the park”? Not only is this dated, once again it is not good communication… tell it like it is.
Surprisingly, motoring metaphors such as “in the fast lane”, “shift up a gear”, “put the brakes on”…or that highly annoying “let’s park this to one side”, don’t feature in the top ten.
So next time you are tempted to slip into jargon remember it is highly irritating. Also, being direct gets better results. “People may take what you are saying the wrong way,” says Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library. “If you’re hinting a circling back to the task later or asking for more hands on deck, this can come across as rude. Are they not good enough for this task?”
….AND THE 10 THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY IF YOU WANT A PROMOTION
While jargon is annoying, in an interview for a step-up the career ladder, it is being too informal that is the problem.
What are you trying to convey? If you are a more mature candidate, perhaps you believe (wrongly) that saying words like “epic fail” makes you down with the kids. It doesn’t.
Or if you genuinely litter your conversations with “totes” perhaps you don’t realise that this is NOT the way to get a better job (even if it is a very informal setting). It is just not professional.
So don’t be tempted. These are the buzzwords employers are fed up with hearing:
- Just sayin’
- My bad
- Me thinks
- Sorry not sorry
“Be mindful that if you’re after a promotion, your employer won’t appreciate you saying a buzzword like ‘my bad’ to excuse yourself for making a mistake,” advises Lee Biggins who warns that using colloquialisms makes you appear less intelligent, can confuse colleagues if they don’t know exactly what you mean and frustrates those you work with because there is a “lack of substance” behind what you’re saying.