5 Things You Should Never Say at Work


Your words could be sabotaging your goals.


What you say at work could be inadvertently standing in the way of your goals. Expert Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big, says to banish these five words from your work vocabulary, stat. 


1. "Just." We love throwing "just" into sentences: "I'm just concerned that..." "I'm just wondering..." We do this when we're feeling apologetic or awkward, when we're worried about being too forward, when we feel as though what we say has to be justified. Hear how powerful these statements sound without "just" in them: "I'm concerned that..." "I'm wondering..."


2. "Sorry, but..." There are times when it's right to offer a sincere apology, but many women unconsciously apologize for taking up space, saying something, or even asking questions: "Sorry, this is a silly question, but..."


3. "Actually." "Actually, I think..." "Actually, I disagree..." The word "actually" makes it sounds as though you're surprised that you disagree. Linguists call these words — "actually," "just," "almost" — hedges, and research shows low-status people use more hedges than high-status folks.


4. "Does that make sense?" This suggests that you didn't make sense — not that you expressed complex and novel ideas that your audience might need to think about. You can still check in to make sure others understand by asking in a more direct way, "Do you have any questions or thoughts?" without diminishing yourself. 


5. "I'm no expert, but..." You know these: "I'm just thinking off the top of my head, but..." "You've been thinking about this a lot longer than I have, but..." We use these disclaimers out of our conditioning to be humble or because our thinking is in progress, and we want others to know that. But we can convey this without making ourselves look less than. "Let's do some brainstorming, here are my thoughts..." is very different from using qualifiers that tell your listeners what you're about to say is likely to be wrong.