12 things emotionally intelligent people avoid saying at work

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Have you ever noticed how some people at work just seem to get along with everyone?

They always know what to say and when to say it. They can handle tough situations without losing their cool.

This isn’t magic – it’s something called Emotional Intelligence.

Emotionally intelligent people are really good at understanding their own feelings, as well as other people’s.

They use this superpower to make smart decisions and build strong relationships at work.

But what’s really interesting is that they’re not just good at knowing what to say, they’re also experts at knowing what NOT to say.

So, let’s get into it.

Here are 12 things emotionally intelligent people avoid saying at work.

Read on, and you might pick up some handy tips to use in your own workplace. 

1. “That’s not my job.”

We’ve all heard it, and quite possibly, we’ve all said it.

But emotionally intelligent people steer clear of this phrase.

It’s not that they’re willing to pile on every task that comes their way, but they understand the power of showing flexibility and a team-oriented mindset.

Instead of passing off responsibility, they’re more likely to say something like, “I think that task would be better suited to [colleague’s name] because of their expertise in that area, but I’m happy to assist if needed.”

This way, they’re not outright refusing the task, but are suggesting a more effective way to get it done.

This approach shows understanding, cooperation, and willingness to contribute to overall success.

And let’s face it – who wouldn’t want a colleague like that?

2. “I told you so.”

It might be tempting to say these words, especially when you’ve been proven right in a situation.

However, emotionally intelligent people resist this urge because they know it’s not beneficial to anyone.

It can come across as petty and condescending, neither of which are helpful for building strong workplace relationships.

Instead, they might say, “I’m glad we’ve learned something from this situation,” or “Let’s take this as an opportunity to improve next time.”

By doing this, they’re putting the focus on growth and learning rather than dwelling on the mistake.

This approach fosters a positive environment and encourages open-mindedness in future discussions.

3. “It’s not my fault.”

This can be a tough one to swallow.

Nobody likes to admit they’ve made a mistake, especially at work where it feels like your professional reputation is on the line.

But one thing I’ve learned from being around emotionally intelligent people is that they don’t shy away from taking ownership.

I remember a time when I was part of a team project.

There was a miscommunication, and an important task got left undone.

It would have been easy to point fingers and say, “It’s not my fault,” but instead, I took a leaf out of the emotionally intelligent book.

I said, “I realize there was a misunderstanding and I played a part in that. Let’s figure out how we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

This not only defused any potential blame game but also moved the team towards a solution-focused approach.

Emotionally intelligent people understand that everyone makes mistakes and what matters more than assigning blame is learning from these errors to improve future work.

4. “I don’t have time for this.”

We’ve all felt overwhelmed and stretched thin at work.

But uttering “I don’t have time for this” can come off as dismissive and disrespectful, especially if the person you’re talking to values the task or topic at hand.

Emotionally intelligent people approach this differently.

They might say, “I’m quite swamped at the moment but let’s find a time that works for both of us to discuss this,” which communicates respect for the other person’s needs while also acknowledging their own workload.

So next time you feel like saying, “I don’t have time for this,” consider reframing it and see how it changes your perspective. 

5. “That’s impossible.”

The workplace can often present us with challenging situations that seem insurmountable.

However, emotionally intelligent people avoid saying “That’s impossible,” because they understand that it can discourage others and create a negative atmosphere.

Instead, they might say something like, “This is indeed a tough challenge, but let’s try to find a way to make it work.”

Such an approach can inspire hope and motivate the team to think creatively and out-of-the-box.

This reminds me of a quote by Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Emotionally intelligent individuals truly embody this spirit.

They recognize that fostering a sense of possibility, rather than impossibility, can have a profound impact on the morale and productivity of a team.

It’s not just about achieving the goal; it’s about the journey of resilience and perseverance that leads there.

6. “I don’t need any help.”

As someone who prides themselves on their independence and ability to get things done, this was a tough one for me to learn.

But over time, I realized that saying “I don’t need any help” can sometimes come across as dismissive or even arrogant.

I remember working on a project that was a bigger bite than I could chew.

The deadlines were looming, and I was feeling the pressure.

My colleague offered to lend a hand, but out of pride, my initial reaction was to say, “I don’t need any help.”

But then I caught myself.

I remembered that emotionally intelligent people aren’t afraid to accept help when needed.

They understand that it’s not a sign of weakness but of strength.

So, instead, I said, “Thank you. Your help would be much appreciated.”

This not only took some weight off my shoulders but also allowed for a great collaborative experience.

Emotionally intelligent people recognize the power of teamwork and are humble enough to admit they can’t do everything alone.

And honestly, it’s a much happier way to work!

7. “I’m fine.”

We’ve all been there. Stressed to the max, feeling like a pressure cooker ready to explode, but when someone asks how we are, we plaster on a fake smile and say, “I’m fine.”

Emotionally intelligent people know better than to hide behind this veneer of ‘fine.’

They understand that it’s not only okay but also crucial to be honest about their feelings – in a professional and constructive way, of course.

They might say, “Honestly, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with this project right now. Could we perhaps discuss some ways to manage it better?”

This kind of transparency can lead to problem-solving conversations and can also encourage others to be more open about their feelings.

Remember, it’s okay not to be fine all the time. Work can be tough and stressful.

But the first step in easing that stress is admitting it exists. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s human. And trust me, people will respect you more for your honesty.

8. “You’re wrong.”

Nobody likes to be told they’re wrong, especially not outright. It can feel confrontational and disrespectful.

Emotionally intelligent people are aware of this and take a more tactful approach when they disagree with someone.

They might say, “I see where you’re coming from, but have you considered…?” or “That’s an interesting point, but my perspective is…”

This way, they’re not outright rejecting the other person’s idea but are offering a different viewpoint in a respectful manner.

And anyway, people are more likely to change their views if you first show understanding and acknowledge their perspective before presenting your own.

So, not only is avoiding saying “You’re wrong” kinder, it’s also more effective!

9. “This may be a stupid question, but…”

I used to be guilty of prefixing my questions with this phrase, especially when I was new in my role. I thought it was a way to avoid judgment in case my question was too basic.

But over time, I realized that this wasn’t doing me any favors.

Emotionally intelligent people understand that there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Questions are how we learn and grow, so they never belittle their own or others’ curiosity.

They simply ask what they need to know.

So, I stopped saying, “This may be a stupid question…” and started saying, “I have a question about…”

Not only did this help me feel more confident in my quest for knowledge, but I also noticed that people were more than willing to help answer my queries.

Remember, every expert was once a beginner who wasn’t afraid to ask questions. So don’t hesitate to ask yours!

10. “I can’t.”

There’s something incredibly disheartening about saying “I can’t.” It’s like putting up a brick wall in front of potential growth.

Emotionally intelligent people know that this phrase can limit their capabilities and opportunities.

Now, let’s be real here, there are going to be times when you genuinely feel like you can’t do something.

But instead of flat out saying “I can’t,” try saying, “I’m finding this challenging.” It’s a small change in wording but it makes a world of difference in your mindset.

It leaves room for potential and learning, which is where the magic really happens.

11. “That’s not fair.”

Life isn’t fair, work even less so.

Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for, or someone else took credit for your idea.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying, “That’s not fair.”

But emotionally intelligent people understand that focusing on the unfairness of life doesn’t get them anywhere.

Instead, they focus on what they can control and how they can improve their situation.

They might say, “I was disappointed not to get that promotion. Can you provide some feedback on what I can do to improve my chances next time?”

12. “This is how we’ve always done it.”

This phrase is a creativity killer.

Emotionally intelligent people understand that sticking to old ways just because they’re familiar isn’t the path to progress.

Change can be uncomfortable, but it’s also necessary for growth.

So instead of clinging to the old, they embrace new ideas and approaches with an open mind.

They say things like, “That’s an interesting approach; let’s give it a try.”

In the end, being emotionally intelligent isn’t about never messing up or always saying the right thing.

It’s about being honest with ourselves and others, learning from our mistakes, and always striving to improve.

So let’s embrace our emotional intelligence and make our workplaces more understanding, respectful, and productive spaces!

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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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