Sometimes we don’t realize how some things we say can be taken differently by others, especially in the workplace. We may inadvertently give a wrong impression with the words we choose.
Think about when you say the phrase “I’ll try.” This can leave people doubting your commitment. When you ask someone to try, they may feel like you are not confident in their ability to complete the task.
If you have concerns about being able to do an assignment, be specific about your challenges. Instead of saying “I’ll try,” try asking for clarification.
If you always answer “I’m so busy” when asked how you are doing, others may think they are taking up too much of your time. They might think you are positioning yourself as more important than them. To avoid this, try saying, “I would love to talk but I have a client meeting in a few minutes,” then offer a time later that you can converse.
Sometimes we feel the need to be self-deprecating before we contribute to a meeting. When you start with “This might not work” or “This might not be a good idea,” it can immediately dilute others’ confidence in you. Simply state your idea instead.
We all often cringe when someone says “With all due respect…” Who wouldn’t? What follows is likely not respectful or productive! If you feel angry, take a few moments to collect yourself and merely say what you have to say.
Then there’s that great word “but”. If you are answering a co-worker with “That idea is good, but…” it makes it seem like you are dismissing their idea entirely. Instead, leave out the but. Try, “That sounds workable, we can look at it more closely.” It will help that person feel more valuable.
It is always a good idea to think a moment before you speak. We feel people should automatically understand what we mean or what our intentions are, but often they don’t. Attempting to leave these words and phrases out of your vocabulary can help ensure a more positive workplace.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO