Uttering some of these phrases may leave you red-faced; others could be corporate suicide.
It’s best to try and catch yourself before any of these pass your lips (and encourage staffers to do the same to keep egg off their faces).
1. “I don’t need anyone to show me.”
Even if you’re confident you can handle a given task, this comes off as arrogant. Maybe there are idiosyncrasies specific to this system or company you aren’t aware of. If someone is willing to offer the time to walk you through, it’s probably best to at least hear them out.
2. “I got so trashed this weekend.”
What people do when they’re off the clock is their business. But it’s best not to recall it in your place of business. This happens a lot during the summer months, when people are cutting loose a little more than usual.
3. “Just between you and me.”
It’s happened to just about everyone: Something said in confidence gets broadcast all over the office. You know whatever you say probably won’t stay within those confines, so don’t even put it out there. Unless you want other people to know it, you probably shouldn’t say it.
4. “That’s not really my job.”
Granted, these days, many people are more grateful just to be employed; but many are being asked to juggle an increasing workload, too. Odds are there was a reason you were asked to do a certain task — it’s best to at least give it a shot (or if it’s totally outside your realm of expertise, to find someone who can help you).
5. “Is that your … dad, daughter, etc.?”
Second only to asking a non-pregnant woman when she’s due, this is one of the stickiest traps to climb out of. Mistaking someone’s husband for her son is embarrassing for everyone involved. (And following up with “Oh, a cougar, eh?” won’t help.) Best to stick with more neutral statements. When you see a photo on a co-worker’s desk, saying something like “What a pretty lady” or “Cute kid” will open the door for that person to tell you about his wife or daughter, son or grandson.
6. “Calm down.”
These are probably the last two words you want to say to a person who’s angry or upset. Of course, almost everyone’s said it at some point, and it universally seems to have just the opposite effect.
7. “Can you do something about Sonya’s loud talking on the phone, Marty’s stinky lunches, etc.?”
No boss wants to get involved in an employee’s interpersonal issues. The best approach is to work them out on your own. Of course if that doesn’t work, there may be times when it’s necessary to appeal to a higher authority. But rather than asking a boss to intervene, consider asking for advice on how to handle the tricky situation.