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5 Words Or Phrases That Will Upset Your Coworkers

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5 Words Or Phrases That Will Upset Your Coworkers

Yes, the workplace can truly be a jungle. You really have to watch your written and spoken language when it comes to your coworkers because if you don’t, you might find that your coworkers are upset and sulky. A recent survey of 1,000 UK workers found that 65% thought that good working relationships with coworkers were essential if they were to remain happy and productive in the workplace.

Basically, that means a collaborative environment where envy, hatred, blind ambition and one-upmanship are all held in check for the good of everyone. If not, colleagues may get anxious, bad tempered and suffer from high blood pressure. It’s a health issue. Just look at this Reddit thread on what co-workers can do to make life downright unhealthy.

Here are some of the most common words and phrases that are going to raise people’s blood pressure and put them at risk. Just in case you use some of these, why not tone them down or cut them out altogether? You might get a few more smiles when you arrive in the morning.

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1. Urgent

Keep this one for real emergencies. Everyone is under a lot of pressure so why increase it? Adding this to your emails and sometimes even putting it in capitals is a type of terrorism which is going to backfire on you. Nobody will believe you after a while. It’s a bit like crying “wolf” – you know the story.

I had a boss who loved sending me emails like that. I can honestly say that my anxiety levels soared and she also had this awful habit of sending them all in one batch. I was admitted to hospital (no kidding!) and doctors discovered that it was not a heart attack – just anxiety. That chest pain was really scary, I can tell you. Urgent should only be used when the word is necessary.

2. We

When “we” is used correctly to communicate collaboration in teamwork, it rocks. But when you use it to tell the boss that “we came up with this great idea” when it was actually not your idea at all, then the real owner of the idea starts to fume internally. Collaboration and teamwork are cool but when you steal credit for a really good idea, then you might notice a drop in the temperature around you and a few glacial stares. Now, you would never do a thing like that, would you?

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“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

3. Me

Substitute “me” with “I” and use either term all the time and watch your coworkers getting agitated. If you like the limelight and you think you are a star, you might like to consider a change of strategy. Blowing your own trumpet is just plain noisy. Results are what count, not your propaganda and brainwashing skills.

I love the one-liner from this year’s Edinburgh Festival when Ally Houston says:-

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“Let me tell you a little about myself. It’s a reflexive pronoun that means “me”.

4. Meetings

Did you cringe when you read this word? Mention this word or read about the next meeting in your inbox and your heart starts to beat a little faster. What is it about meetings that make them universally hated? Usually, nothing gets done and the show offs get into the spotlight again. One UK survey shows that we waste 16 hours a week or a whole year of our working lives on these meetings.

“He (Warren Buffett) doesn’t let his calendar get filled up with useless meetings.”- Bill Gates

If you are a manager, set time limits and stick to them. If you a team member, suggest that meetings are only called when action plans need to be finalized or decisions have to be made. Go for tech free meetings so that people actually listen rather than consult their smartphones and laptops.

5. I’m not racist, but……

You are making a disclaimer and following it by an offensive remark so, of course, your coworkers are going to shudder, roll their eyes or just avoid you at the water cooler. Substitute the word “racist “ with “sexist”, “homophobic” or whatever and you are the one who is more likely to offend a large number of colleagues and their friends. When you finish by saying, “Some of my best friends are black/gay, etc”. then you really have put your foot in it. You are just flaunting your prejudices and trying to marginalize minority groups by making ridiculous generalizations.

Can you think of any other words or phrases that really annoy or upset your coworkers? Tell us why you stopped using them in the comments.

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Featured photo credit: DS Meetings at HQ/Jim Larrison via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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