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5. “Get over it.”– When someone on a work team has a problem with a work issue, and a colleague or supervisor uses this phrase, it devalues the complainant’s feelings, yes.

However, it also lowers morale as a whole, and shows weaknesses in the leader responsible for managing complaints. As an alternative, when someone presents a difficulty in a workplace setting, think in the affirmative. Derive two or three possible solutions, even if you feel the person’s difficulty “isn’t so bad.” If you can’t handle that much, then suggest someone that could possibly help.

4. “Didn’t I tell you…?” – Even if you’re working with someone who doesn’t listen all that well, avoid conversations that start with “didn’t I tell you.” You’re not speaking to your teenager who broke curfew. Instead of saying, “didn’t I tell you to collate those files?” for example, offer a more concrete expectation for getting what you want done. Say: “does 3pm work, in getting those files collated? I’ll come back and pick them up then.”

3. “I’m not doing that.” – Regardless of what role you play, it’s best not to bite back on a request from someone to do something, unless it’s illegal, uncomfortable, morally wrong, or just plain stupid. Most times, if someone offers an idea for you or your team to do something, you can reject the idea without saying, “I’m not doing that.” That phrase shuts down communication between parties and potentially ruins work relationships. Try offering an alternative. “That idea may not work because of [this reason], but maybe we can do [this] instead.”

2. “You’re so [insert damning “I-think-I-know-you-so-well” characteristic here] – The bottom line is, no one likes to summarized, let alone by his or her colleagues. Avoid repeated declarations of someone’s persona, i.e. “you’re so haughty,” or “as usual, you’re the hottie,” when talking with a colleague. Such phrases can ruin work relationships…which brings on the next point:

1. Any phrase that can be construed as sexual harassment – According to, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.The legal definition of sexual harassment is “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.” Don’t do, say, or even suggest anything that falls in this category. Period.

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