If you are like me, then you have a serious case of the “Foot In Mouth Syndrome” which consists of saying things that inadvertently offend or embarrass people or yourself.
It is basically the art of saying things that you regret.
It is a real disease that plagues some of us, whether you are talkative or not, introverted or extroverted, thoughtful or not, mature or not.
To overcome this issue, we have to develop communication skills and tactfulness.
We just have to be extra careful to who we talk to, how we talk and what we say.
We just have to constantly monitor ourselves, filter ourselves more than usual, be more quiet than necessary, educate ourselves on our audience at all times.
We spend time fixing things and explaining what we meant.
We spend time avoiding expressions, topics and certain people.
In the workplace, there are a few phrases that are tactless and unforgivable and that you must avoid at all cost.
1. Silence as a cure
Staying silent doesn’t help circumvent the issue.
I have learnt this the hard way.
When you are too quiet, people will usually fill in the blanks with negative thoughts. Nobody will say: Tim is quiet because he is shy, introverted or cares a lot about the words that come out his mouth. Instead, they will say: Tim doesn’t speak to us because he doesn’t like us or because he thinks he is better than us.
Moreover, when you are too quiet, people will soon disregard you and forget that you exist.
It is better to minimize or actively filter the words you say than to stay silent.
People make mistakes all the time. You will just apologize if you have to.
2. Unintelligible speech
Fear of saying something unforgivable can make us do crazy things like speaking unintelligibly.
Fear can make us do crazy things. Period.
Speaking unintelligibly constitutes an attitude of avoidance. By doing this, you are straining your interlocutor and creating misunderstandings.
Very soon, nobody will want to talk to you. It becomes imperative that you build up some confidence, articulate and speak at a respectable volume.
3. Offensive speech
When we find ourselves in a stressful situations, it feels convenient and relieving to swear.
Studies show that the people who swear the most are very honest (very honest about their feelings, I’d say).
However, in the workplace, not everybody is comfortable with offensive language and you wouldn’t want to damage your self-image.
The best option is to stay from curse words all together or replace them with better language.
4. “It’s not fair”
Life is hard. Everybody has their personal challenges and unfair moments.
If you have put in the work and have not been recognized or recompensed, it’s OK. Your prince will come someday.
Sometimes, you have been doing something wrong that you are not fully aware of and you may want to discuss your performance with your trusted circle.
If you have been on the receiving end of continual unfair treatment, it’s time to move on to another job where you can put your skills to work.
5. “I didn’t double check that”
Unless you are the most perfect being walking the face of the earth, you will want to double check your work.
This comment makes you seem full of yourself and you open yourself up to criticism.
Everybody is susceptible to mistakes and need to pay attention to details.
6. “I’m busy” or “I don’t have time for this”
In the workplace, you should be able to prioritize your tasks and manage your own time.
By saying this, you are stating your incompetence, your lack of organizational skills, lack of patience or your laziness.
You can find ways to communicate your business without being rude or ask to reschedule.
That being said, some toxic leaders give their employees more work load than a regular person can handle. If you have a toxic leader, just make it clear that the task is not feasible in the time demanded.
7. “I’m bored” or “I have nothing else to do”
If you are bored at work, then you are in the wrong job or you are not being challenged enough.
To get out your boredom, you can either ask for more responsibilities, show some initiative or just be quiet about it.
8. “I’ll try”
This phrase implies the possibility of failure.
It is better to say “I will” or “I’ll do my best” because you make yourself accountable for your actions and means that you will put your best foot forward to succeed.
The worst that can happen is that you fail to deliver. But, you did your best, you will learn from your mistakes and grow as a person.
9. “That’s impossible” or “There’s nothing I can do”
That is a self-defeating and limiting phrase.
It means that you are not solution oriented and that you don’t even want to try.
10. “But we’ve always done it that way”
Well, this phrase might sound familiar to a lot of people.
It has been said by a lot of people, especially if they are experts, have been in the same position for the longest while or are resistant to change.
Truth is, not because you have been doing it one way that it is the only or that it is the right way.
Instead, it is best to state the reasons why you may want to keep doing it that way.
11. “I know that”
No, you don’t know. Stop.
If you did, you would be working for yourself and conversing with yourself. You wouldn’t need to exchange information with somebody. You would be the greatest and surest source of information of the universe.
Even if you really did know something, you should discipline your ego and your need to demonstrate your intellect.
Chances are the person sharing information with you will not want to share again.
Chances are when you will want information, people will assume that you already know.
Chances are when you will want information, you will feel embarrassed to come forward.
12. Strong No
There is an unwritten rule in the workplace which is to never openly use the word no.
If you are a straightforward person, you might be tempted to use it. You may think that you are decisive and that you know what you want or don’t want.
However, you will look harsh and it would be very hard to come back on the no without looking indecisive.
There are different ways that you can say no without employing the word in itself.
You can simply give the real reason why you are implicitly saying no or say something to effect of “I have prior engagement” or “I’ll think about it”.
13. Unwilling yes
Saying yes especially when you don’t want to oblige may be just as bad as saying no.
It is better to grow a backbone, stop people pleasing (easier said than done) and learn different ways to say no.
14. “Sorry but…”
You can apologize sincerely (once) if you have made a mistake but sorry is rarely enough and you will have to put in the work to fix things.
There is no need to beg for forgiveness because the best apology is changed behavior.
15. “That’s not my problem”, “That’s not in my job description” or “I don’t get paid enough for this”
I understand this approach or why someone would use these phrases.
Sometimes, we want to mind our business, don’t want to step on people’s toes and get out the scope of our job descriptions. Meddling in others activities can be a huge source of conflict or seeming to eager to please can lead you to be overworked and underpaid.
However, these specific phrases give off the vibe that you don’t care, that you hate your job or that you don’t want more responsibilities. If there is an opportunity to evolve, you will not be chosen.
Instead, you can recommend someone for this task, express that you will take care of this as soon as you finish your more urgent and adequate tasks (which may take a while).
Appreciate the situation for what it is and take the opportunity to try new things and get out of your comfort zone.
16. “I don’t need help”
Employers value people who are autonomous, who don’t expect hand-holding or for other people to do their job.
The reality is we all need help from time to time whether we want to admit it or not.
Permanently locking yourself off is simply an ego move and asking for help sometimes is OK.
Furthermore, people will like you more if you ask them for favors or for help.
17. “You are wrong”, “You make no sense”, and “You misunderstood”
Even if this is true and even if the situation is heated, there is no need play the blame game.
The blame game never results in resolve but in more blame shifting.
When in conflict, you either want to convince the other person of your point of view or put an end to all exchange.
The easiest way out is to ask for further clarification or clarify your point of view and move on.
18. “You should have…” or “You could have…”
These phrases are confidence killers whether you say them to yourself or to someone else. Relax, mistakes happen all the time and eventually you have to keep swimming.
The most important part is to take responsibility for your mistakes and quickly find solutions to the problem.
19. “I may be wrong, but…” or “I don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction, but…”
These phrases denote your lack of confidence.
The truth is that you dismiss yourself before others do.
To boost your confidence, just state what you are thinking. If your statement is wrong, then it is wrong. There is no need for a full disclaimer.
20. “It’s not my fault” and “I am only following orders”
Well that’s an easy way out!
Some people refrain from taking initiative or making decision just so they can shift blame.
Shifting blame is the fastest to create tension in the workplace. Even if you have nothing to do with the mistake, find different ways to fix the situation.
21. “At my last job…”
This statement immediately puts people in defense mode whether you or talking about people or work processes because you start gossiping, comparing and criticizing.
It implies that you feel like you have been better places and you are not able or willing to adapt to your new environment.
Making nonconstructive or judgmental statements can ruin a career.
22. “I quit”
Sometimes, you are just going through a phase where you want to quit and give up.
There is no need to speak your mind out loud and let everybody know that you are on the brink of quitting.
Instead, take a break from what you are doing and if you are about to quit, move in silence.
Last Words Of Advice!
Communicating with tact is a skill that you can acquire with time.
Everybody puts their feet in their mouth from time to time.
So, don’t beat yourself up.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
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