October 29, 2013


So the other day I came across this interesting Refinery29 article about things you shouldn’t say at work, and I was kind-of-but-not-totally shocked to find out that I am guilty of saying pretty much all of them. 

I’ll be honest: I don’t often think about the way I speak at the office because (a) my coworkers–at least the ones I work with directly–are like my family and (b) my job involves way more reading and writing than it does speaking. I also think that I’ve done pretty well for myself thus far speaking the way I do, but again, the fact that I use all of these “no-nos” all the time makes me wonder if maybe I should pay a little more attention to what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. I also feel like there’s a bigger women-in-the-workplace brewing here, but for now, I thought I’d share these 10 things (which, I should mention, come from career coach Tara Sophia Mohr) and ask you guys if you use them as well–and what you think about them.

1. “Does that make sense?”
See also: “Do you know what I mean?”

2. Just*
“I just want to check in…” “I’m just concerned that…”

3. Actually*
“I actually think…” “I actually have a question…”

4. Sorry, but…*
“I’m sorry to bother you, but…”

5. Just a minute or just a little bit
“This will just take a minute…” “I’d like just a little bit of your time…”

6. Kind of and almost* 
“I kind of think this should be done this way…” “I almost think that this is the better option…”

7. Undermining qualifiers 
I.e., “I’m not expert, but…”

8. Uptalk*
Raising the pitch of your voice at the end of yes/no questions.

9. Rushing and piling on the words***
According to R29, this is when we feel we don’t have the right to take up space in a conversation.

10. Shrinking space. 
This, according to R29, is when we shrink into a smaller amount of physical space during a meeting or conversation.

Like I said, I do almost all of these, and fairly frequently, but I’ve placed an asterisk next to the ones that I know I do all the time (No. 9 is a big one for me).

What do you guys think of this list? Do you say or do any of these things yourself? I’d love to hear.

Photo credit 

  • Reply
    October 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I definitely feel that I have uttered these words throughout my office
    career. Now I’m off to read about “why” we shouldn’t say them. 🙂

  • Reply
    eileen | leaner by the lake
    October 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Good tips! Things I already said at work today to our tech guys when everything shut down for no reason: NOTHING HERE WORKS. Probably not the most eloquent way to deal…

  • Reply
    Alicia | Jaybird Blog
    October 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Oof, all of the above. Usually I’ll type out an email, then read through and cut out all my “just”s and “actually”s. Then I pare it down again for length because I’m often far too wordy. I work in an environment that’s 95% female and pretty informal, so I hear these a lot too, but I’d like to be more conscious of my spoken + body language.

    • Reply
      Megan @ Pink O'Clock
      October 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Yes, same! I also have to edit my emails for excessive exclamation points, haha.

  • Reply
    Sarah | For the Love of Chow
    October 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I’m so guilty of #5 even though I know it is #5 that causes me to get the most off-track when someone needs something for “just a minute”! eek!

    • Reply
      Megan @ Pink O'Clock
      October 30, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Yeah, this list is totally making me look at how I behave at work in a new way!

Leave a Reply