Things Smart People Don’t Say

There are certain things that you should never mention at work. Even when the words are genuine, these sentences have a unique potential to cast a negative light on you. Worst of all, there’s no taking them back once they slip out.

I’m not referring to off-colour jokes, surprising slips of the tongue, or other political gaffes. These aren’t the only ways to make yourself look bad. The remarks that represent us as inept and unassertive are frequently the ones that cause the greatest harm.

No matter how smart you are or what you’ve accomplished, there are some words that can instantly alter how people perceive you and permanently harm your reputation. These words carry so many unfavourable implications that they quickly ruin careers.

How many of these career-killers have you recently heard at work?

“That’s/It’s not my fault”

You should never shift blame. Be responsible. Own your role in whatever went wrong, no matter how tiny. If not, explain what happened in a neutral, impartial manner. Focus on the facts and leave it to your supervisor and coworkers to determine who is to blame.

People will start to perceive you as someone who is not accountable for their actions the moment you begin blaming others. This causes anxiety in others. Some people will completely avoid dealing with you, while others will attack first and point the finger at you when something goes wrong. 


A person who is responsible and accountable at work has a high chance of prospering at work because taking ownership of one’s assigned tasks depends  totally on their work ethic, and all supervisors tend to value employees who are responsible at work.

“It’s not fair”

Everyone is aware of the unfairness of life. Saying it’s unfair makes you appear immature and naïve since it implies that you believe life is supposed to be fair.

Stick to the facts, be productive, and keep your interpretation out of it if you don’t want to look terrible. For example, you might say, “I saw that you gave Paris the significant project I was hoping to get. To help me work on refining my skills, would you mind explaining to me the reasoning behind that choice? I’d like to hear why you felt I wasn’t a suitable fit.


To demonstrate that you are qualified for more senior positions, it is best to present yourself as mature in the workplace. If moving up the corporate ladder is a top priority for you, consider these subtle strategies to make an impact on senior level staff members: speak up in meetings, refrain from arriving late, state your opinions with confidence, be aware of the workplace culture, and dress for the job you desire. Their best bet is to promote mature, sophisticated employees, and you want your name on that list!

“That’s the way it’s always been done”

Thanks to the ever-changing world of technology, a 5-month process could easily be outdated. So when a coworker asks about a flawed system, responding with;

                        “That’s the way it’s always been.”

        Inner voice: Thanks for illuminating me. I wasn’t aware.

That was sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell. Because, seriously? Yes, he knows that’s how it’s always been. That doesn’t mean it’s not flawed. 

Saying that something is the way it has always been done not only makes you appear lazy and opposed to change, but it may also cause your supervisor to question your lack of initiative in trying to make improvements. If you are doing things the way they’ve always been done, there’s almost certainly a better way. 


To depend on the concept of “this is how we’ve always done it” in a world where change is the one constant is myopic and lazy. Being a leader involves more than just helping others through change or even just accepting it.

Leaders actively seek change. Leaders challenge the status quo. Leaders look for a better solution. Change is inevitable — Growth is optional.

“No problem/No worries”

It turns out that some people’s hair stands on end when they see a harmless expression, especially at work. The offender: “No issue.”

Many individuals find the statement “no problem” intolerable because they equate it with its literal meaning—and the implication that there was, or may genuinely be, a problem. It may be a generational thing, or it may just be contextual.


Substitute it out for any of the following simple statements: “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” “any time,” “absolutely,” “yes”—you get the point. However, some individuals don’t mind hearing or using the slang phrase “no problem” themselves.

“I can’t”

Recently, the way we communicate and the impact it has on our credibility have been in the news internationally. People frequently dislike hearing I can’t because they assume it means I won’t. Saying “I can’t” conveys a lack of commitment to doing what is necessary to complete a task. Similar to that, the seemingly innocent remark “I can’t” can deplete your willpower, depress your spirits, and stifle your creativity.


If you actually can’t do anything because you don’t have the appropriate skills, you should propose a different approach. Instead of stating your limitations, highlight your abilities. For instance, say “I can come in early tomorrow morning” instead of “I can’t stay late tonight.” Will that work? I don’t yet know how to do that type of analysis, therefore state that instead of “I can’t run those numbers.” Is there someone who could demonstrate for me so I could do it on my own the following time?

“I will try”

I will try my best. It is a weak statement. Try has a timid sound and conveys a lack of trust in your ability to do the task, just the way the term think does. Take full responsibility for your ability. If you are asked to do something, either agree to do it or provide a substitute; never just say you will try because that implies that you won’t work very hard. Sit down and make a plan for the outcome rather than making this vague phrase. Discussions that are outcome- or result-focused are more convincing, and the person who asked you to do something will have greater trust in you as a result.


The transition from TRYING to DOING.

  • I appreciate the opportunity. Give me X days to consider the project and how I can complete this task or project. I’ll follow up with any concerns, issues, or questions that might arise and might need your assistance or support.

You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals if you have a plan for a task or project.

  • Keep in mind that modest jobs can occasionally end up being larger than the person who assigned them expected. Before beginning a project or task, you should ALWAYS plan it out. Additionally, you want to leave an opening to follow up and ask for support in the future.

Numerous times, I’ve been asked to finish a minor project or work that quickly grows larger and takes more time. The most frequent problem is that the person who gave the work or project to you wasn’t clear about the intended goals or results, or they didn’t give you enough context or information to finish it.

“He’s lazy/incompetent/a jerk”

The benefits of criticizing a colleague are nonexistent. You gain nothing! If what you said is true, there’s no need to call it out because everyone already knows it. If your statement is untrue, you will be the one who comes out as rude.

In any workplace, there is bound to be obnoxious or incompetent individuals who isn’t pulling their own weight, and chances are, everyone is aware of who they are. You have nothing to gain by exposing their incompetence if you lack the authority to assist them become better employees or to fire them. The attempt to improve your image by pointing out your colleague’s shortcomings comes out as insecure. 


When you’re an ambitious, hardworking employee who is committed to advancing your career and the company, working with someone who only seems interested in performing the bare minimum might be irritating.

Before you notify your supervisor if you are struggling with a colleague’s incompetence, make an effort to find a solution on your own. There are several ways to accomplish this, one of which is by having an open conversation with your colleague and emphasizing the value of satisfactory performance to him. Ignoring poor performance, especially when it interferes with your own job performance, is the one thing you cannot afford to do.

“I hate this job”

Many people dislike one aspect or another of their jobs. Nearly every day, the majority of us undoubtedly hear someone complain about their boss or job. However, even though hating your job is a very normal human feeling, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

After all, you work for a significant portion of your waking hours. It’s difficult to feel good about your life if you can’t stand what you do.

Complaining about how much they despise their job is the last thing anyone wants to hear at work. By doing this — you portray yourself as a negative person and demoralize the team. Bosses are quick to identify negative people who lower morale and are aware that there are always eager replacements waiting on the horizon.


What can you do if you hate everything about your working life, including your job, employer, boss, and industry? First things first: don’t display your emotions publicly.

Whether you rant at work, to colleagues when you’re out to lunch, or online during your downtime, complaining about your job might backfire. Being at the point where you have admitted that you hate your job isn’t necessarily a horrible state to be in. At least now that you are aware, you can plan your route for the future.


It takes more than being simply intelligent to be smart. Social and emotional intelligence are equally vital. Anyone who wishes to come out as smart and capable must know when to keep their mouths shut in certain circumstances.

It benefits you to get rid of these phrases from your vocabulary. You’ll have to catch yourself speaking them until you’ve made the practice of not saying them – since they have a way of sneaking up on you.



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