7 Things Not to Say at Work
Congratulations! You've successfully completed sexual harassment training and learned never to reject a project with a dismissive "Not my job!" But there are loads of subtler ways to make your coworkers (or, worse, your boss!) cringe.
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Here are a few career-damaging statements to avoid.1. At 8 a.m. Monday morning, walking into the office
Don't say: "Before you settle in, I need to talk to you about the presentation."
Why it's a problem: Is the presentation an actual fire that needs to be put out or just something that's on your mind at that moment? People are still transitioning from the weekend. You may be catching someone unprepared, or she may have other critical deadlines that need her immediate attention.
Say instead: "Hope you had a great weekend! Let me know when you have time today to talk about the presentation."
2.During a major meeting
Don't say: "I don't have the numbers today because the intern didn't give them to me."
Why it's a problem: It doesn't matter if the intern really did screw up—it looks like you're throwing the blame on someone else. Which makes you seem like you're not accountable, and it makes your colleagues wonder if they'll be looking at the undercarriage of the bus next.
Say instead: "I don't have the numbers right now, but I'm working with the intern to get them as soon as possible."
3.Meeting your new boss
Don't say: "I'm available anytime you need me. Here's my home number, my personal email, my cell, and I'll be on vacation next week, so here's how you can reach me at the cabin."
Why it's a problem: It seems like the right thing to do—to be helpful and available. But studies show that an "always on" mentality isn't conducive to better productivity. Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow, in fact, asserts in her TED Talk that the practice can even ultimately damage an organization.
Say instead: "Let's figure out the best ways for us to communicate if we need to reach each other during an emergency."
4. During a review period
Don't say: "Diversity is such a priority right now. You'll have no problem getting promoted."
Why it's a problem: You're asserting that someone's accomplishments are less important than their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other marker of identity.
Say instead: "Do you want to go over any of your goals together before your official review? Last year I wished I'd prepared better."
5. During a work crisis that corresponds with a personal emergency
Don't say: "I know this project is a beast, but be grateful you don't have kids. I was up all last night cleaning up vomit, and I'm on my way back there right now."
Why it's a problem: This is insensitive on so many levels. For one, if someone is trying to conceive, or is unhappily child-free, then baby puke would actually be a triumph. It implies that non-parents don't have anything going on outside of work. Finally, it makes it sound like you don't like being a parent—and that's awkward for everyone.
Say instead: "I'm so sorry I have to leave right now. I'll be available again at 7:30, and I'll call to check in. Please, keep me posted, and I'll catch up as soon as I can."
6. When referring to colleagues
Don't say: "My boyfriend Pedro in IT just fixed my email, it's working great now!"
Why it's a problem: Of course it's not a Don Draper–level offense: You, Pedro and everyone else knows that he's not actually your boyfriend, but when you refer to him like that, you're downgrading his professionalism, and your own.
Say instead: "Pedro did such an amazing job fixing my email that I'm letting his boss know he's a rock star."
7. In your farewell announcement on the last day on the job
Don't say: "I'll miss you all. Here's how you can link up with me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat!"
Why it's a problem: Chances are, you'll run into people you know for the rest of your career if you're in the same city or the same industry. Do you really want anyone you'll encounter in a professional capacity to have an image of you half-naked taking a polar swim for charity?
Say instead: "I'll miss you all. Please connect with me on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch."