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30 Phrases Unprofessional People Can’t Stop Saying At Work

30 Phrases Unprofessional People Can’t Stop Saying At Work

Language is not just the product of our thoughts. Our thoughts and our habits are affected by the language we use. Think of the story of how the Eskimos have hundreds of words for “snow.”

So it stands to reason that professional people have better language and thoughts than unprofessional people. Here’s a look at 30 simple phrases which you should never use if you want to be successful at work.

1. Cursing

Using curse words for every situation does not just mark you as vulgar, but as someone who lacks the creativity to come up with a better insult.

2. “We’ve always done it that way.”

The language of those who are incapable or unwilling to think of new and better ways.

3. “I’m not afraid.”

Sometimes, you should be. To master fear is better than to not have it at all.

4. “Yes.” (when you really mean no)

Telling someone you will do something when you have zero intention to do so shows disregard for what other people want.

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5. “I’m important!”

As Margaret Thatcher observed: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

6. “Are you upset?”

You should not need to ask this question. You should be able to determine other people’s feelings by yourself.

7. “Like.”

It is okay for 15-year olds to use “like” in every sentence. A professional should be confident enough to not stumble over his words.

8. “Literally.”

Similar to the previous one. Using this word to describe anything and everything shows that you don’t know any other, better adverbs.

9. “I thought you were going to do that.”

The words of someone who just assumes responsibilities onto other without communicating.

10. “That’s impossible.”

Bluntly shutting down new ideas without even giving a chance to explain the problems with the idea shows an unwillingness to adapt.

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11. “You misunderstood.”

Sometimes there are unfortunate failures of miscommunication. Then you claim to have completely misunderstood the assignment. But this is often frequently used by people who have made a promise and are now trying to back out.

12. “Sorry for being late.”

Punctuality is one of the most important things for any business. If you’re not on time, you show that you don’t care about their time.

13. “Because I’m in charge.”

This does not convince people that you should be in charge, and just incurs resentment and irritation at your high-handed ways.

14. “Sorry.”

Far too many people think that “sorry” is an all-excusing grace for their mistakes. Fix the problem, don’t just say “sorry.”

15. “I’m bored.”

Boredom is a state of mind which you can fix yourself. Find something to do, every profession has something which always needs to be done.

16. “I’m busy.”

You’re supposed to be busy, telling someone this is not going to accomplish anything. It just makes you look insensitive and only focused on your own affairs.

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17. One-upping.

No one likes the guy whose response to any story is to try to one-up and talk about something even “better.”

18. “That’s not my fault!”

A professional person should look at a disaster and think about what can be done to fix it, not look for who to deflect the blame on.

19. “I can’t do all of this.”

There’s nothing wrong in admitting that you need help. But be sure that you actually need help, and are not just looking for an excuse to be lazy.

20. Gossiping

You are a professional. You are supposed to do your job, not chat about the latest office intrigue.

21. “Details, details.”

Details are what separate the mediocre from the good, and the good from the great.

22. “I was just following orders.”

Further blame deflection, only now you’re trying to pin the blame on your superiors. That often will not end well.

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23. “I have a big plan!”

Anyone can make a plan. It’s execution that matters.

24. “I’ll deal with it later.”

Procrastination is not the mark of a professional. At all.

25. “I know better.”

There is nothing to gain by being condescending. No one will like you, and you look unprofessional in the process.

26. Mumbling

Speaking loudly and clearly is absolutely important for a professional. If you are in the habit of mumbling a lot, here are some tips which can help with that.

27. “Wow, that chick is…”

Go out to the bars if you want to pick up somebody. Don’t do it at your workplace.

28. “That’s not going to happen.”

There are much better ways to phrase refusal in a way which makes you look professional.

29. “I quit/I’m done!”

Sometimes, you have to quit. But shouting it out or being dramatic about it just shows an inability to keep it cool.

30. Saying nothing

Always be willing to speak. If you say nothing, people will make assumptions about you – and they will be often negative.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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