Avoid these phrases

Top 7 Phrases and Words That Should Never be Used at Work

December 18, 2017

Although every sphere of activity has its jargon, there are phrases and words that shouldn’t be used no matter the industry. These are words and phrases which can’t convey the essence of your message and phrases and words that are unnecessary or offensive. Maybe you use some of them today, but ask yourself – if they can offend someone or reduce the quality of communication, why can’t I replace them with something more appropriate?

List of phrases from your vocabulary should be replaced


Assume is an expression of a vague language. If the boss says that word, it looks like a disguised way to show his or her authority and when the worker uses it, it looks like an artful way to escape responsibility. In both cases, there are better ways to formulate thoughts.


If you say “I like this car” it’s fine, but if you say “Well, you know, it’s like, I don’t know…” which is a total disaster in general, but let’s get back to the “like” word… so when you say something like this, it makes you look confused and unconfident. Is that the impression that you want to make? 

“Hey, man”

“Hey, man” and “What’s up, dude” are the phrases that are relevant in a very narrow context and in most cases they’re totally irrelevant. In addition to this, these phrases are kind of sexist because both of them relate to men, and if women are present in the room that can lead to quite an awkward situation. 

“Let’s talk that”

What is that supposed to mean? Why not use phrases like “Discuss it”? or “Talk about it”? While using phrases like “let’s talk things through” or “we can talk it out” are fine, “let’s talk that” goes too far and makes fun of English grammar.

“That was a fail”

In case you’re using that to tell about someone’s mistake, then you’re being too harsh. If you’re talking about yourself then you’re undermining your abilities in the eyes of coworkers. Better use neutral phrases like “I find it difficult” etc.

On the other hand, there are companies which love to use language like this and don’t see anything bad in it. If you’re working for such company – you don’t have to worry about saving your face.

“She was in labor for 20 hours”

Almost everyone loves kids, but details like this are better to be kept to yourself. Even if you’re good friends with people, whom you discuss this matter with, better ask if their comfortable about hearing this kind of details.

“Over the wall”

This one can have several meanings, for instance in business it usually means “send it to the client.” And what if someone will think about another meaning upon hearing it? Phrases with double or even triple meaning are better to be avoided in the business community. If you want to be understood properly – don’t use them at all.

If you’re not sure about the phrase you want to use, ask yourself – is it not offensive? Is it clear? Is it appropriate? If in all three cases the answer is yes you can definitely use them.

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