Negative Words in the Workplace

Avoid these negative words in your workplace interactions…
Like any other administrative assistant, you typically spend about 8 hours of your day at work. Eight hours a day, 5 days a week is a lot of your time, and you want to make sure the environment you’re working in is as positive as possible. A lot of that environment is dependent on how you present yourself to your boss, co-workers, and clients, and it’s easy to forget how much of an effect our words can have. As a quick reminder, I’ve compiled a list of several commonly used phrases that have negative connotations and can damage your positive work environment.

“I am too busy” or “I don’t have time” You may be busy and you may have a lot on your plate, but your boss or co-worker doesn’t need to or want to hear about it.  They’ve come to you with a request for a reason, and, especially if it’s your boss, it’s your job to try to fit that project into your schedule. Instead of dismissing them with “I’m too busy,” try to come up with an alternate time that you may be available work on their project.  For example: “I can’t work on it this afternoon, but I have time tomorrow morning to do it. Will that work?”

“I don’t know” This is a big no-no. It’s your job to know or, at the very least, to know where to find the information. Make sure you leave your client or boss with a sense that you know what you’re doing, even if you cannot provide the answer right at that moment. Statements like “Let me find out the answer to that for you” or “Let me check on that, and I will get right back to you” are much better alternatives.

“Calm down” Of course you should never say this to your boss, but even when dealing with a client, you should never advise them to “calm down.” This term is not only impolite, but it can also sound very rude to someone who is already upset. Instead, try saying “I understand your frustration and will see what we can do to assist you.”

“I am having one of those days” or “Today is such a bad day” Nobody really wants to hear your complaining, which is exactly what these statements are. You are not the only one working—everyone in the company deals with the same issues and the same deadlines, and even if you are the only one in your position, other people have their own deadlines and issues. The best substitution for these statements is just not to complain at all.

“I’m new here” This is a poor excuse, and it will rarely get you off the hook. Whether you’re new or not, it’s still your job. In many cases the person you are dealing with already knows that you’re new, but they still came to you, so it is important that you do what you can to help. Instead of “I’m new here” try something like “Let me see what I can find out.”

These are just a few of the many negative phrases that we can come across in the workplace. Building a positive work environment starts with you, and avoiding and replacing these phrases in your vocabulary and conversation will improve the way your boss, co-workers, and clients view you.

What are some other phrases that we might want to include in our list? Have you had any experiences with negative words in the workplace?

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