7 Things Not To Say At Work (Like EVER)

Last updated by Lauren Hart

I’ve made a few blunders at work. Sometimes I speak without thinking, but fortunately, I’ve never uttered the phrases that should never be uttered at work. Because yes, there are some! Maybe I’ve never said them because I’m not very advanced in my career, or simply because I’m rather shy and self-effacing. Whatever the case, I know the 7 things I should never say to avoid being a horrible person in the workplace. What about you?

7 Things Not To Say At Work (Like EVER)

7 things you should NEVER say at work!

1. “I don’t have time for that”

This is a nice way of saying “your work is less important than mine”, which means that freeing up time and giving attention to lower-priority tasks is out of the question. You don’t need to know the Eisenhower matrix to know that there’s more urgent work, but even so. If someone asks for help, it’s a very demeaning response.

It’s easy to imagine a toxic manager saying something like that 😅. Clearly, it shows a lack of consideration. Well, it could also mean that we don’t manage our time well, or worse, that we have absolutely no team spirit.

2. “We’ve always done it like that”

Typically, the kind of phrase that prevents its employees and newcomers from thinking for themselves. It imposes a certain way of doing things, without taking a step back 🙃. Except that one way of doing things isn’t always the best way, and closing your eyes to that is locking yourself into escalating commitment. New ideas can be beneficial and breathe new life into a company. It’s important to listen to them before rejecting them.


If, on the other hand, we see that someone isn’t carrying out their tasks properly, we obviously need to intervene. But as an example is worth a thousand words, we help rather than say things like that!

👋 You may be interested in this article: Is my coworker a narcissist?

3. “You’ve taken the afternoon off?”

Oh boy 😓! It would never occur to me to say that kind of heavy-handed phrase to a colleague.

To translate it simply, it means: “I’m working hard, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t suffer too”. It’s a phrase that smacks of crass presenteeism, except that it’s pointless. Firstly, because our colleague may well have finished their day’s work, not everyone goes at the same rhythm. Worse still, this person may have problems in their personal life! Yes, it could be a mum picking up her sick child or a husband visiting his wife in hospital 😔...

👉 You shouldn’t say anything, except if you’re the direct superior, but in that case you should at least have the sensitivity not to talk about it in public.

Woman at work

And as long as the job’s done, that’s the main thing, right?

4. “You don’t like it? The door’s open”

The picture this phrase paints is crystal clear: it’s a boss furious that an employee’s questioning him. As for me, it’s clear that I’ve never uttered it, since I’m right at the very bottom of the ladder 😬. Because yes, this kind of phrase is clearly uttered by someone with power in the company and implies “I’ll fire you whenever I want”.

It’s management by fear that’s just going to scare away competent people and damage the company in the long run. It’s shooting yourself in the foot, as well as being a big tw... being a toxic person. 🤐

5. “If I were you, I’d do it like this”

This sentence may start from a good place because you may want to show your colleague a better way of doing things 👌. Nevertheless, even if you have good intentions, that doesn’t mean it will be well received. In fact, it can be a tad irritating and a way of sinking a little deeper into infantilization at work.

It’s better to simply offer to help, rather than impose your vision of things. Especially as we don’t know the exact extent of the problems our colleague is experiencing. So if you want to show respect at work, suggest and make yourself available if needs be 😉.

6. “Sexy little skirt”

“We know exactly why she got the job”, “It’s a girl thing to cry at work!”... Basically, all the sexist and inappropriate phrases that should have no place in the workplace (or anywhere else for that matter 😠...).

A reminder that 8 out of 10 women have already experienced a sexist situation at work. We also remind you that it’s an offense punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years. So let’s learn to be a little less macho and to ignore our privileges to be a more bearable man at work!

7. Saying “yes” (to everything)

This may well be the phrase, or at least the word, that I might easily say. Except that, I’ve learned to develop my assertiveness at work so that I don’t have to put up with every request I get. Indeed, when you say yes to everything, you run the risk of committing yourself to tasks that aren’t feasible for you.

Sometimes you might be afraid to say no, especially if it’s your direct superior or the big boss, but saying yes doesn’t necessarily do you any favors. Once again, it’s a question of prioritizing tasks, so it’s best to be realistic and take everything into consideration. As such, you avoid putting yourself at risk and tiring yourself out, after all, there are only 24 hrs in a day!

Editor’s note: Words that nurture, words that hurt

There you go, now you know the phrases to avoid at work! Perhaps you’ve already uttered some of them without realizing the impact they can have? We can never stress this enough, but words are very powerful, they can hurt, comfort, and many other things, so we need to be careful about what we say. Encouragement, congratulations, compliments, and support are also important at work, so avoid words that hurt but don’t skimp on those that warm the heart.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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Article presented by Lauren Hart

Writing is a beautiful means of expression that I cannot do without. It has allowed me to channel my hypersensitivity, plus I love writing about psychology and personal development. For me, self-understanding is the best way to move forward!

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Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

Wengood's playlist


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  4. Beautiful DayU2
  5. Thinking out LoudEd Sheeran
  6. White FlagDido
  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
  8. Nine Million BicyclesKatie Melua
  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

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