Effective communication is a key instrument to leading a successful career. Communicating well has two parts: how you say it and what you say. In today’s article, you will discover some of the mistakes that can hurt your career advancement prospects. Do you see yourself in some of these comments? There’s no need to worry. We have all made mistakes and usually manage to work another day. The very fact that you’re reading this article means you are dedicated to improving and becoming more effective. That’s a fantastic trait! Here are 7 things you should never say at work if you want to be successful:
1. “That’s Not My Job”
Job descriptions are written for a purpose. However, they are not weapons to be used against your manager! Saying this phrase or a variation of it suggests you are not interested in growing your skills and that you are not interested in going the extra mile to help the organization. When you say “that’s not in my job description,” you suggest that you are rigid and unwilling to adapt to the changing needs of the organization. Solution: Look for ways to accept new responsibilities. If you feel completely overwhelmed at work, learn how to say no professionally. For the best results, suggest an alternative when you say no (e.g. “No, I cannot create that report for you. However, Jane is outstanding at creating reports and I know that she is interested in learning more about financial reporting.”)
2. “I Work Every Weekend”
Professional success takes time. That’s one of the truths that Malcolm Gladwell explained in his best selling book Outliers. However, working longer hours yields less results after a certain point. After a certain point in the day, your ability to make good decisions and use your abilities declines. Solution: Setting limits on your working hours forces you to become productive and set priorities on your work. As author Laura Vanderkam explains in her book What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend, successful professionals use the weekend for gaining perspective on their work, getting much needed rest and preparing for the week ahead. If you ever felt like you needed permission to relax on the weekend, you have it!
3. “I Can’t” (Frequently)
What happens when you tell yourself “I can’t?” You prevent yourself from trying and looking for solutions. You start doubting your abilities. Even worse, saying this phrase over and over again, you will become discouraged. When unsuccessful people say, “I can’t improve my Excel skills,” they present themselves from attempting to learn. Solution: Instead of saying “I can’t” ask yourself: “How would I do this?” What if somebody offered me $10 million to find a way to do this? Would you learn a new skill? Would you call someone to ask for advice? Would you try one hundred ways and look for ways to improve each time? If you’re afraid of criticism from your boss, you can say, “I have never done that before and I will start now.” That’s how a humble attitude improves your work effectiveness.
4. “I Never Read Books”
Each year, we come across new statistics that show fewer people are reading. According to the Pew Research Center, 24% of Americans read no books in 2013 (the typical American adult reads just five books). In a world of increasing complexity and knowledge, unsuccessful people suffer two problems when they talk about their lack of reading. First, they are actually falling behind everyone else – especially those who read in their fields. Second, they are suggesting they have no need for further knowledge about the world. Solution: Develop a reading habit and program to improve your knowledge. To get started, pick up one book this week and set a goal to read for at least 15 minutes per day. If you are working on getting ahead in your career, look for books that relate to your career goals (e.g. improve your productivity and organization with Getting Things Done by David Allen). To relax at night before you go to sleep, read a novel for fifteen to sixty minutes to relax – reading is an excellent addition to a successful bedtime routine. Restart Your Reading Habit With These Book Suggestions:
- 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library (Art of Manliness)
- 25 Recommendations For Life Changing Biographies For The Voracious Reader In You (Ryan Holiday). This article inspired me to read a biography of John D. Rockefeller in 2014 and a biography of George Washington in 2015.
- 15 Best Leadership Books Every Young Leader Needs To Read.
5. “Let’s Wait Until Our Competitors Do That”
The reactive habit of unsuccessful people is a recurring problem that comes up again and again. Adopting the “wait and see” approach has merit in some cases. Excessive reliance on this concept means being dependent on others to come up with new ideas and products. When we think about the most admired people and companies in business – Apple, Google and others – they set themselves apart by leading their industries and bringing new products to the market. Solution: You look for new ideas and ways to become more innovative at your organization. There are several ways you can develop an innovative mindset. Explore the following resources to improve your capacity for innovation.
- Mental Models: How Intelligent People Solve Unsolvable Problems.
- 5 Ways to Get Ready for Innovation in 2015
- How I Managed to Out-Learn the Competition
6. “I Don’t Need Your Input”
Saying this to a manager or coworker is a career limiting move for two reasons. First, this statement harms relationships. When people say they have no need of input, unsuccessful people signal they do not value other people. Second, this statement suggests a complete knowledge of the world – an unfortunate type of arrogance.
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, leadership and management author
Solution: Instead, you can always find a way to seek and use input at work. You can obtain feedback in two ways to improve your results. You can directly ask people for their insight, ideas and opinions. You can also employ observation, reflection and active listening.
- 8 Ways To Receive Feedback And Turn Them Into Your Strengths
- 8 Ways Negative Feedback Can Lead To Greater Success At Work.
7. “Let’s Get Together Sometime”
They say “sometime” over and over again when it comes to their goals. They say “sometime” when their boss asks them to get work done. Over and over again, they take a vague approach to the opportunities they encounter at work. Their professional network becomes weaker each day because they keep saying “I’ll have lunch with that old client sometime” or “I’ll send that email to my college friend sometime.” Solution: Make specific plans to get work done. Plan the next step in your work. Constantly practice the two minute rule for your work on your agenda – if the action will take less than two minutes to complete, then simply get it done now.
Featured photo credit: The Despair/Pabak Sarkar via flickr.com