Professional Development

15 Things You Should Never Say at Work

Written by Peter Jones

Ever wonder what sets successful people apart in the workplace? They always seem to stand head and shoulders above the fray. Part of that is class and style. And part of that is knowing what to say, when to say it, and—more importantly—what not to say.

Here’s a list of 15 things you should never say in the workplace.

1. Anything that remotely seems like gossip

Gossip is no good. It takes your focus and energy off doing your best work and can also be seen as petty and vindictive. Keep your eyes on your own desk and life and watch your social capital rise.

2. Anything that seems like an excuse

If you can’t do something, don’t offer. And constant apologizing for being late or disrupting meetings? That only draws attention to the fact that you screwed up in the first place. Instead, don’t screw up. Make it a personal policy never to be late.

3. “No”

Successful people are a little bit fearless, and a lot ambitious. They may not always make guarantees, but they don’t immediately say “no” either. Try, fail, try harder. Fail, fail better. Succeed.

4. Complaints about the system

If you’re bumping up against the work system and it’s curbing your style and your potential, ask yourself first if that particular obstacle is there for good. If it is, put your brain into figuring out how to work around it. If it isn’t, try to change it. Complaints won’t help in either case.

5. Complaints about workload

More work = more achievement = more success. Never complain about how much work you have. Get it done, then ask for more. And do it because it is a joy to do it, and to set yourself apart.

6. Personal stuff

Successful people keep work talk on work. It’s less complicated and more productive. And they can remain a bit of a mystery.

7. Anything that makes you seem negative

Don’t be mean to your colleagues. Don’t tease them. Don’t be petty. Don’t engage in gossip. Keep your head above the fray and be nice to your colleagues and underlings. Avoid controversy. Keep your good name squeaky clean.

8. Money stuff

Never brag about your salary. And don’t show off your fancy toys. Stick to encouraging equal footing among your colleagues, and value talent, productivity, and hard work. Keep talk of money out of your office entirely.

9. Your goals

Successful people rarely broadcast their goals. It not only adds to the pressure on them to achieve them, it keeps them from unnecessary scrutiny. And when they do succeed, the degree of their accomplishment gets to take people by surprise.

10. “Me, me, me…and more about me…”

The best way to win people over is not to constantly talk about yourself. Listen and show genuine interest in your coworkers. Win hearts subtly and be genuine. It’s not all about you.

11. “I might just give up”

Successful people don’t even consider giving up. They think outside the box and find another way. But if they do consider it, they’d never say it out loud. Not even to themselves. Devote your energy to finding solutions.

12. “I know enough”

Successful people never say no to a learning opportunity. And they don’t feel bashful about admitting what they don’t know and allowing someone to teach them. A strong desire to learn is what keeps successful people on top of their personal wave.

13. “I can’t help”

Successful people aren’t ashamed to ask for help when they need it. And they always try to help someone out when they are asked for help. This is a great networking strategy as well.

14. Anything just for the sake of kissing up to someone

Pleasing other people should never be your motive. Be excellent. Be genuine. Win people over with your best qualities, not some idea of what you think they want to hear. And avoid trying to take shortcuts or sweeten up the boss by any other means. That’s transparent and won’t reflect well on you.

15. Offensive jokes

Offensive comments are wrong, but so are offensive jokes. Something offensive said in jest is still offensive. Don’t be rude. Be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. And keep control of your emotions; that will keep you above the fray.


About the author

Peter Jones