7 things socially intelligent people never say at work, according to psychology

Ever heard the saying, “Think before you speak”? Well, it’s not just a piece of folksy wisdom your grandma might have passed down. It’s actually backed by psychology.

You see, socially intelligent people – the ones who always seem to navigate conversations at work with grace and ease – live by this principle.

But it’s not just about thinking, it’s also about what you’re choosing not to say.

Now, you might be wondering, “What exactly should I avoid saying at work?” Well, here’s your answer.

This article will unveil 7 things socially intelligent people never say in the workplace, all backed by psychological studies.

So, if you’re looking to improve your workplace communication and foster better relationships with your colleagues, keep reading. This might just be the game-changer you’ve been looking for.

1) “That’s not my job”

Let’s start with this one. “That’s not my job.”

Have you ever heard someone say this at work? Did it make you feel like they were a team player? Chances are, it didn’t.

Socially intelligent people understand the importance of flexibility and collaboration in a workplace setting. They know that job descriptions aren’t always black and white, and sometimes stepping outside of their comfort zone is necessary for the team’s success.

Saying “That’s not my job” can come off as rigid and uncooperative. It creates barriers between colleagues and can foster a negative environment.

Instead, socially intelligent people choose to say something like, “I usually don’t handle this, but let’s see how I can help.” This shows a willingness to cooperate and contribute to the team effort, creating a more positive and supportive workplace atmosphere.

How you respond to requests or challenges at work speaks volumes about your character and social intelligence.

2) “I knew that would happen”

This one hit close to home for me. I recall a time when a project I was involved in didn’t go as planned. One of my colleagues, instead of offering support or constructive feedback, simply said, “I knew that would happen.”

It felt like a punch in the gut. Not only did it come across as smug and unsupportive, but it also shut down any possibility of a productive discussion about what went wrong and how we could improve.

Socially intelligent people understand that such “I told you so” moments don’t create a conducive learning environment. It makes people feel defensive and less likely to take risks in the future.

Instead, try saying something like, “That didn’t go as planned. Let’s figure out what we can learn from this.” This approach promotes open dialogue, learning from mistakes, and ultimately strengthens the team’s resilience.

Being socially intelligent is about fostering positivity and growth, not pointing fingers or dwelling on failures.

3) “You always…” or “You never…”

Let’s get real here. We’ve all had those moments when we’re frustrated at work.

Maybe it’s a colleague who keeps missing deadlines, or perhaps it’s a boss who seems to overlook your hard work. It’s so easy to let those feelings slip into our language with phrases like “You always mess up” or “You never appreciate my work”.

But here’s the thing.

Using absolutes like ‘always’ and ‘never’ is not just unfair, it’s also unproductive. It boxes people into a corner and makes them defensive. It’s a surefire way to escalate conflicts instead of resolving them.

Socially intelligent individuals, however, approach criticism with care. They focus on the specific issue at hand, rather than launching personal attacks. They might say, “I’ve noticed this issue has come up a few times. Can we discuss possible solutions?”

It’s not about sugarcoating the truth—it’s about communicating it in a way that promotes understanding and change, instead of resentment and conflict. It’s tough, but boy, does it make a difference.

4) “It’s not fair”

Life isn’t always fair – and neither is the workplace. We’ve all felt aggrieved at some point, whether it’s missing out on a promotion or having to pick up the slack for a lazy colleague.

But here’s the thing: uttering the words “It’s not fair” rarely changes the situation. In fact, it can make you come across as immature or unwilling to deal with setbacks.

Socially intelligent people understand this. They recognize that complaints without solutions don’t contribute to a positive work environment.

Rather than saying, “It’s not fair,” they might say, “I feel overlooked in this situation. Can we discuss possible reasons and solutions?”

This approach shows emotional maturity and proactivity. It opens up a conversation about the issue, instead of just venting frustration.

5) “I’m really busy”

We all are, right? In today’s fast-paced work culture, being busy is often worn as a badge of honor. But here’s a little nugget of wisdom: Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.

Socially intelligent people understand this distinction. They also realize that constantly broadcasting how busy they are can be off-putting to others. It can create an unnecessary barrier and make others feel hesitant to approach them with questions or ideas.

Instead of saying, “I’m really busy,” they might say, “I’m in the middle of something, but I can talk at 2 PM.” This communicates their current unavailability but also shows their willingness to engage at a later time.

Did you know that according to a Harvard Business Review study, open communication in the workplace leads to increased employee loyalty and team productivity? Just something to think about next time you’re tempted to play the ‘busy’ card.

6) “At least it’s not…”

Well-meant attempts to offer perspective can sometimes come across as dismissive. “At least it’s not…” is one such phrase that can trivialize someone’s feelings or experiences.

Socially intelligent individuals are empathetic. They understand that everyone’s feelings are valid, and they avoid making comparative statements that might minimize another person’s struggles.

Instead of saying, “At least it’s not…”, they might say something like, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. Is there anything I can do to help?”

This kind of response acknowledges the other person’s feelings and offers support. It’s a small change in language that can have a big impact on the person receiving it.

It helps to build trust, promotes open communication, and strengthens team relationships. Use it generously.

7) “That’s impossible”

The word ‘impossible’ is a door slammer. It shuts down creative thinking and problem-solving, both of which are critical in the workplace.

Socially intelligent people avoid using this word. They understand that most challenges at work are not ‘impossible’, they just require a new approach or perspective.

Instead of saying, “That’s impossible,” they might say, “That’s a tough one. Let’s brainstorm some possible solutions.” This kind of response fosters an environment of innovation and collaboration.

The takeaway

If you’re reflecting on these points and realizing that you often fall into the trap of saying these things at work, don’t panic. Recognizing the problem is the first step toward improvement.

Social intelligence isn’t about perfection, it’s about progress. It’s about cultivating self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication skills.

Start by observing your language at work. Notice if you’re using any of the phrases we’ve highlighted. If you are, try to replace them with the suggested alternatives. You might be surprised at the changes in your interactions and relationships.

Every conversation is an opportunity to practice social intelligence. And it’s never too late to start.

After all, it’s not just about what we achieve professionally—it’s also about how we interact with the people around us on that journey.

As you embark on this journey of becoming more socially intelligent at work, be patient with yourself. It’s a learning process. Over time, you’ll find that your relationships improve, and so does your overall work experience.

And who knows? You might just become that person at work who everyone respects and wants to be around.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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