There are a million decisions that we make when we show up at work each day. However, one of the most important choices you can make is the language that you use. Just one word or phrase can shift people’s perception of you in either a positive or negative direction. Do you want to be perceived as confident, or tentative? Dedicated, or lazy? The right choice of words can create a long-lasting, positive impression on your employer and team. The wrong choice of words might convey that you’re disposable, and ultimately result in your being dismissed.
1. That’s not my job. If these words ever escape your lips at the office, you should just show yourself the door. Failing to execute on assignments that fall outside of your job description will signal that you’re not a team player, and that you’re not invested in the success of your company as a whole. While you may not always like what you’re being asked to do, it is usually in your best interests to just get it done. The only exception might be is if you’re actually unable to do the task because you lack the skill set, i.e. I can’t help out with that Powerpoint presentation because I have no idea how to use Powerpoint. In that case, consider yourself excused.
2. That’s not fair. It may not be fair, but actually saying That’s not fair sounds like whining. If have a valid complaint, then make your case in an intelligent, articulate and carefully considered manner.
3. What a jerk! It’s valid to give voice to any personnel issues you’re having at work. However, it should never be done with name calling. Be specific, be tactful, and address the issue through proper channels. Blasting people so aggressively makes you look unprofessional, and it may actually expose you to legal action.
4. There’s nothing I can do. Valued employees come up with solutions, not reasons why something can’t be done. Make sure that you’ve exhausted every possible solution before throwing in the towel. Always be positive, and let people know how you can contribute.
5. This may be silly, but… It’s important to present yourself at work as somebody with confidence and credibility. Discounting yourself at the outset demonstrates insecurity, and reduces the impact of your ideas. Don’t do it!
6. We tried that once, and it didn’t work. That’s fine, but explain why that solution wasn’t effective. Present alternate solutions that might be workable. Otherwise, it may appear that you’re shirking your responsibilities out of laziness.
7. I’m too busy. Aren’t we all? If you’re too busy right now, then offer an alternate day and time when you’re not busy. Again, your job is not to create obstacles. Your job is to solve problems, and get things done.
We hope that these examples of how language can impact your career will inspire you to think, act and speak positively in the workplace. In addition to enhancing your reputation as a professional, it will create a better experience at work for everybody – including yourself.