12 things socially intelligent people avoid saying at work

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Ever wondered how some people at work just seem to get along with everyone?

They can chat up the boss, share a joke with the office newbie, handle their tasks like a pro and still avoid any drama.

What’s their secret?

It’s something called social intelligence.

And guess what? Part of their magic is knowing what not to say.

It’s as if they have a mental list of things to avoid saying at work to keep the peace and stay productive, and today, we’re going to let you in on that secret.

Let’s dive into 12 things that socially intelligent folks steer clear of at work.

Point 1: “That’s not my job”

The first phrase socially intelligent people avoid saying at work is, “That’s not my job.”

Sure, everyone has specific roles and tasks, but uttering these words can give off an impression of being uncooperative or unhelpful.

Instead, if a task is outside of your responsibilities or expertise, try suggesting a more suitable person or offering to help find a solution.

This shows that you’re a team player who’s committed to the success of the company, not just your own role.

So remember folks, replace “That’s not my job” with “Let’s find the best person for this task.” It’s a small change in language that can make a big difference!

Point 2: “I told you so”

The second phrase on our list is the infamous “I told you so.”

We all know how tempting it can be to say this, especially when your advice was ignored and things went south.

But hold your tongue! Saying “I told you so” doesn’t help the situation; instead, it can make colleagues feel defensive or embarrassed.

Socially intelligent folks opt for a more supportive approach. They might say something like, “Looks like we’ve learned something new for next time.”

This way, they’re turning the situation into a learning experience rather than focusing on the mistake.

Point 3: “This may be a stupid question, but…”

Up next on our list is the phrase, “This may be a stupid question, but…” Let me tell you, from my personal experience, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Once, during a team meeting, I had a query that I was hesitant to ask, thinking it might seem obvious or silly to others. But I mustered up the courage and asked anyway, without using the ‘stupid question’ disclaimer.

To my surprise, not only was my question valid, but it also sparked a discussion that led to a new idea. If I had dismissed my own question by calling it ‘stupid’, I might have missed out on this opportunity.

So folks, socially intelligent people know that questions – all questions – are valuable for learning and innovation.

They don’t undermine their own curiosity or input by calling it ‘stupid’. 

Point 4: “I don’t have time for this.”

Now, we all know that time is a precious commodity, especially at work. However, this phrase can come off as dismissive and disrespectful.

Instead, smart communicators politely express their constraints and propose alternatives.

Something like, “I’m swamped right now, but let’s find a time later to discuss this,” can convey the same message without sounding rude or uninterested.

Remember folks, it’s not just what you say but also how you say it, that counts!

Point 5: “That’s impossible.”

Expressing instant negativity or defeatism isn’t part of a socially intelligent person’s vocabulary.

They understand that such statements can stifle creativity, kill motivation, and discourage their colleagues.

Instead, they use phrases like, “That’s challenging but let’s see how we can make it work.” This approach acknowledges the difficulty but also shows an openness to finding solutions.

I have a special place in my heart for this particular tip. We’ve all faced moments where everything seems impossible.

In those moments, remember, the most beautiful rainbows come after the darkest storms.

Just like in life, in our workplaces too, a positive mindset can transform impossible tasks into exciting challenges.

So, here’s to embracing challenges and finding creative solutions!

Point 6: “We’ve always done it this way.”

his phrase can be a creativity killer. Socially intelligent people know that just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better or more efficient method out there.

Early in my career, I joined a team where monthly reports were compiled manually, a task that took hours.

Being new and tech-savvy, I suggested automating the process. Initially, I was met with resistance and the classic “We’ve always done it this way.” But I didn’t give up. I showed them how automation could save time and reduce errors.

Long story short, my suggestion was eventually implemented, and guess what? The team saved hours of work each month!

This experience taught me the importance of being open to new ideas and methods. 

Point 7: “It’s not fair.”

Life isn’t fair. Work isn’t always fair. There will be times when you feel overlooked, overworked, or underappreciated. It happens to all of us.

But publicly declaring “It’s not fair” doesn’t exactly radiate maturity or professionalism.

Socially intelligent people get this. They understand that it’s more productive to address specific issues directly yet diplomatically.

If they feel they’re being treated unfairly, they don’t whine; they have a conversation with the necessary person and explain their point of view.

So, next time you’re tempted to shout, “It’s not fair”, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and address the issue in a constructive way.

Trust me, it’ll reflect better on you and have a higher chance of resolving the issue.

Point 8: “I can’t.”

The eighth phrase that socially intelligent people avoid is “I can’t.” This phrase implies a sense of defeat and lack of effort.

But these clever folks know that mindset plays a huge role in what we can or can’t achieve.

Individuals with a “growth mindset” – those who believe they can learn, change, and develop needed skills – are more successful and happier in their personal and professional lives.

Instead of saying “I can’t,” socially intelligent people opt for phrases like “I’ll give it my best shot,” or “Let’s find a way to overcome this challenge.”

This shift not only boosts their own motivation but also fosters a positive environment at work.

Point 9: “You should have…”

I’ve learned from my own experience that this phrase can come off as blame-shifting and confrontational. It’s a surefire way to put someone on the defensive.

I remember once, a team member made an error that caused a delay in our project. My first reaction was to say, “You should have double-checked before submitting it.”

But I held back and instead said, “Mistakes happen. Let’s figure out how to fix this.”

The result? Not only did we quickly find a solution, but our mutual respect also grew.

That day I learned first-hand that focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on errors builds a more positive and productive work environment.

So folks, next time you’re tempted to start a sentence with “You should have…”, take a pause. Try focusing on the solution rather than the problem. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Point 10: “I’ll try.”

Tenth on our list is the phrase, “I’ll try.” Now, this might seem like a harmless phrase, right? But let’s get real here.

When you say “I’ll try,” it often implies that you’re not fully committed to the task. It’s almost as if you’re giving yourself an out before you’ve even started.

Instead, socially intelligent people say, “I will.” It shows commitment and determination. So next time you’re given a task, ditch the “I’ll try” and go for a confident “I will.”

Point 11: “That doesn’t concern you.”

Eleventh is the phrase, “That doesn’t concern you”. Nothing screams ‘exclusion’ louder than this. It can make people feel unimportant or undervalued.

The truth is, transparency and inclusivity foster trust and collaboration in a team.

So, if there are things that are confidential or sensitive, there are better ways to communicate that.

Try saying, “Once I have more details, I’ll share what I can.” This way, you’re not shutting anyone out.

Point 12: “It’s all your fault.”

Blaming others without acknowledging our role in the situation is both unfair and unproductive. The harsh reality is that it’s easier to point fingers than to accept our part in the mess.

But guess what? Socially intelligent people own up to their mistakes. They understand that everyone makes mistakes and use these situations as opportunities for learning and growth.

So next time things go wrong, instead of playing the blame game, take a step back and reflect on what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future. After all, we’re all human – and humans learn from mistakes!

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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