Phrases that affect your credibility at work

02 Nov 2020

Communication is integrated with almost all aspects of our lives - from receiving and transmitting messages, our body language can also reveal feelings that can shape others' perception of us.

In the workplace, there are words and phrases used daily that can undermine or bring negative energy to a team or situation, said communication coach Alan Samuel Cohen. Let's take a look at the top words to avoid using at work and learn better options to use.


Simple and powerful - "but" is a conjunction that can override your initial sentence and create a contrary. An example would be "I really like your idea, but...".

To say it better, one can stop at the statement, and follow up by using "and", such as, "I really like your idea. And I like to discuss these areas to understand your idea better."

This might be nothing/silly

Before you share your idea or feedback, saying "this is nothing" or "this may sound silly" can lower others' confidence in you and inherently giving them the perception that they cannot take you or your ideas seriously.

Instead, one can express the idea without any self-deprecating buffer and be more respected and valued for the contribution.

"Respectfully" or "honestly"

It is commonly heard in conversations where people start with "respectfully" or "honestly" before sharing an opinion.

With this ambiguous lead-in, it may confuse the receiver that the statement you are going to make can be interpreted either disrespectful or dishonest.  

To say it better, just simply drop these two terms.

I'm so busy

Responding to a colleague or manager with "I'm so busy" at work can make people uncomfortable at making conversations with you as they might think you may be reluctant to talk, or that they are bothering you.

Busy is associated with feelings of frustration, and when said out loud, it can become a subtle message to mean "leave me alone".

If you are loaded with work and unable to chat, you can propose to catch up with the person at another time at both of your convenience, making the person feel that you are genuinely interested in talking.

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