10 Expressions Not To Say

When I was still working in IT a younger colleague asked me a question and after he finished with the issue he asked, “How do you do it?  Every time I ask you a question, you ALWAYS have the right answer.”  After a brief pause I replied, “If I don’t know the correct answer I keep my mouth shut.”   I have always prided myself on being dependable for answers–the correct answers.  Why provide any information at all unless you know the answer is correct?

More than 20 years ago I read an article that described 10 very telling expressions you should never use in business along with the reasons you should not say them.  I saved that list and I usually read over it a couple times a year.  One of the qualities I have always tried to instill in anyone I worked with in my career was to always do their best to provide complete and accurate information.  Without complete and accurate information the people in leadership roles cannot make decisions that lead to the most positive impact as possible and ultimately those things will reflect on the person who provided the information.

What does it take to get ahead in business? Knowing what not to say is a starter. Eliminate all negative phrases.


Expression:  “They didn’t get back to me.” Or “They are getting back to me.”
Reason:  Expecting someone to get back to you stops the action. Take the initiative. Never wait for anyone to return your telephone call.

Expression:  “I thought someone else was taking care of that.”
Reason:  Excuses indicate a roadblock to action. You do what you’re told, but don’t think about what should be happening. Always ask questions to keep things moving.

Expression:  “No one ever told me.”
Reason:  If a supervisor hears you express yourself this way too often, it will only make a clear statement about the way you work–that you operate in a tunnel, oblivious to everything that is going on around you.

Expression:  “I didn’t know you wanted me to do that.”
Reason:  This expression indicates that you are only capable of doing what you are told and nothing else.

Expression:  “I didn’t think about that.”
Reason:  An inability to see down the road may indicate that you lack the ability to understand and grasp relations.<

Expression:  “But it isn’t due until…”
Reason:  Last-minute performance is seldom the best you have to give. Managers know that what’s done in haste doesn’t leave time for proper evaluation, revision and refinement.

Expression:  “But they said it would be done on time.”
Reason:  There’s only one problem–it wasn’t.  Why?  Because you failed to check to determine progress and possible problems.

Expression:  “As I understand it…”
Reason:  Using words like this indicates that you’re a bystander, not an active participant. Spectators don’t play the game, and they don’t get rewards.

Expression:  “It’s scheduled for…”
Reason:  The schedule is only important if completion will be on time. Schedules must be actively verified as many times as necessary.

Expression:  “I’ve been trying to get everyone together, but…”
Reason:  Using these words gives the appearance that you can’t handle responsibility or that your associates and co-workers don’t respond to you.

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