11 phrases you should stop using if you want to be taken seriously at work

Being taken seriously at work is important because it helps you move up the career ladder, gain respect from your colleagues and bosses, feel good about your job, and much more.

When you’re taken seriously, your voice is heard and respected in meetings, discussions, and negotiations.

That’s why you need to pay attention to what you’re saying to your coworkers and managers. 

So, in order to avoid negative consequences, we’ll go through phrases you should stop using if you want to be taken seriously at work.

Let’s begin!

1) “I’m just a beginner at this”

Everyone was a beginner at some point in their work lives. And if you’ve changed careers a couple of times, you’ll feel like a complete beginner even more often. I know I have. 

And while being a complete beginner is daunting, for me, it’s also an opportunity to soak up new knowledge. 

So, if you’re gonna use this phrase, you’ll simply and effectively downplay your abilities and undermine your own potential. 

Being new to something is fine! It’s a chance to learn and grow. Butt don’t sell yourself short; embrace the learning process and show you’re eager to improve.

Sure, acknowledge your learning process, but express confidence in your ability to tackle the task.

2) “This might be a dumb question, but…”

Similarly, prefacing questions with self-doubt can undermine not only your self-confidence but also how others see you. 

There’s no such thing as a dumb question, especially when you’re trying to understand something. So, instead of doubting yourself, just go ahead and ask your question. 

It shows that you’re curious and eager to learn, which are really positive qualities. Plus, chances are, if you have the question, someone else might be wondering the same thing. 

By asking, you’re not only helping yourself, but you might be helping others, too. So, don’t worry about sounding silly – asking questions is how we grow!

3) “That’s not my job”

While it’s absolutely important to set healthy boundaries at work, saying this can come off as dismissive or unwillingness to help. 

Instead, show flexibility and a readiness to contribute where needed while also clarifying your role when necessary.

Look, it’s good to know your role, but sometimes, helping out beyond it can make a big difference. Being a team player means lending a hand when needed, even if it’s not in your job description.

So, even if it’s not exactly your job, being willing to help out can make a big difference and keep things moving smoothly at work.

4) “I don’t have time”

When you’re constantly saying you don’t have time, you start sounding disorganized or like someone who doesn’t know how to effectively use their time. 

We all have busy schedules, but saying you don’t have time can also sound dismissive. 

Instead of just saying it out loud, try being more specific about your schedule. You can say something like, “I’m tied up with a few things right now, but I can look into it later today.” 

Being honest about your availability shows that you’re responsible and organized. It also helps the other person understand when they can expect a response from you.

It’s okay to prioritize your tasks. Just be clear about when you’ll be able to address something. That way, you can manage your workload effectively without leaving anyone hanging.

5) “I’ve always done it this way”

After a couple of years at work, you start getting complacent and thinking you know how to do everything best. 

But think of a doctor who doesn’t stay in touch with the latest medical research and technology. Would you be okay with them saying, “I’ve always done it this way,” when there are now better methods available?

Resisting change or innovation impedes your progress and growth. Instead, embrace new ideas and approaches while being open to improvement.

Don’t stick to old ways if there might be better ones. Stay open to new ideas and ways of doing things. You might find a more efficient or effective way!

6) “I’m not good with technology”

Technology is always changing, and nobody knows everything about it. Instead of focusing on what you don’t know, think about what you can learn. 

Dismissing technology skills will limit your opportunities for advancement and collaboration in many areas. 

Also, if tech isn’t your thing, it’s cool to admit it. But also, don’t be afraid to learn. Tech skills can be picked up with practice and patience.

There are plenty of resources available, from online tutorials to workshops, that can help you build your confidence. 

And don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice when you need it – that’s how we all learn and grow. 

By taking a proactive approach to learning about technology, you can expand your skill set and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. 

So, instead of saying, “I’m not good with technology,” say, “I’m learning more about technology every day.”

7) “Sorry, but…”

Over-apologizing is great. If you want to diminish your authority, that is. Many people do it without even realizing it. And in all fairness, they’re often great and humble people. But that can get you only so far in a business environment, right?

So reserve apologies for genuine mistakes or offenses and avoid diluting your statements with unnecessary apologies.

Be clear and direct in your responses without over-apologizing. Your time and boundaries matter, too!

8) “It’s not fair!”

Complaining about fairness can come across as immature or unprofessional. In fact, I’d argue that no workplace is truly fair to everyone. 

And even if it were, there would always be someone complaining how it really isn’t fair to them.

As with everything, there are facts, and there’s people’s perception of things. 

If something feels unfair, talk about why and suggest how to make it better. Don’t just complain; offer ideas to fix the problem.

Will it feel like fighting against windmills? Sure. But if you don’t voice your concerns, nothing will change either way. 

9) “I’m not sure if I can…”

For most of my life, I never felt too confident at anything, especially work. I’d always have doubts about anything I’d start. 

But there’s one thing I never did. I never expressed my insecurities out loud. I never let others know how I felt deep inside. 

And it’s a fact that expressing doubt about your abilities erodes confidence in your skills. People start seeing you as this really insecure and even timid guy/gal, and that’s often a very bad thing, especially if you want to move up the ladder anytime soon.

If you’re unsure, it’s okay to ask for help or advice. Say you’re willing to give it a shot and learn along the way, but don’t put yourself down.

10) “I’ll get to it later”

Everyone procrastinates at something. Even that person who looks and feels like they’re incredibly productive. 

However, delaying tasks indefinitely creates a perception of procrastination or lack of accountability. 

Instead of putting things off, make a plan to tackle them. Break tasks down and set aside time to do them so they don’t pile up later.

11) “That’s impossible”

You know which things were “impossible?” Landing a man on the Moon, the Manhattan Project, sailing around the world, flying…

When you say, “That’s impossible,” it sounds like you’re shutting down an idea without really considering it. But sometimes, things that seem impossible at first can actually be achievable with a bit of creativity and problem-solving.

Instead of shutting down ideas, think of them as challenges. Brainstorm solutions or workarounds. 

You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve when you think outside the box and with your back pressed against the wall!

Final thoughts

In a workplace, there are certain expectations of you, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be characterized as someone you don’t want to be. 

So, whether you’re expressing your abilities, addressing challenges, or advocating for fairness, how you communicate matters.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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