Top 10 Things You Should Never Say at Work

Last Updated Mar 16, 2011 10:52 AM EDT

Top 10 Things You Should Never Say at WorkIn this era of political correctness gone wild, the last thing we need is more stuff we shouldn't say or do at work. We've got enough to worry about. Well, if you don't want more to worry about, pay attention.

There are some things that, if you say them in the workplace, you're toast. This is nothing new. Just age-old, battle-tested truths. Uttering one of these phrases will, best case, make you look like a dope or a whiny cry-baby. Worst case it'll destroy your credibility or even get you fired.

Now, you and I probably think this is just common sense but you know, there's never someone with common sense around when you need one. Besides, you may have friends and associates who aren't the brightest bulbs in the box, right? Wink, wink. Better show them this list:

Top 10 Things You Should Never Say at Work
  1. Never say, "I don't need the money" or "I don't work for the money." Whether you realize it or not, you're talking down to people. Plus it's probably BS and, even if it isn't, you sound like an idiot. Better yet, don't even discuss money ... ever.
  2. Never threaten, "If you [fill in the blank], then I'm going to the boss." For the most part, threats are a sign of weakness. If you have a strong position, act on it. If not, suck it up. When you threaten you just sound like a whiny little brat.
  3. Never diss or dress down anyone publicly, even if you're right. It's humiliating, offensive, and besides, you don't know who their friends are. Could be your boss. Seriously.
  4. Never say anything privately you wouldn't say publicly. Of course, managers and executives have to discuss private matters behind closed doors. That aside, it's a good rule to follow. These days, anyone can be recording your conversation on a cell phone. Next thing you know, it's everywhere.
  5. Never assume you're "in" with the boss. He may like you, but don't count on it mattering when it comes to business. For managers, business should and will always come first. It also makes you a target of coworkers. Nobody likes the "teacher's pet."
  6. Never say, "[fill in the blank] makes me uncomfortable." If it's illegal - discrimination and/or harassment that creates a hostile work environment - report it and, if it's not fixed, sue. Otherwise, you're just whining.
  7. Never say, "When I retire I'm going to ..." The whole retirement thing is off the table for a big chunk of the population and bringing it up just rubs people's faces in it. Bad Karma.
  8. Never gossip, especially about office romance. It can only end badly. What if the couple in question is trying to keep it a secret? What if the person you're talking to knows someone or is himself involved with one of the people in question? Just don't do it.
  9. Never say you have authority for something you don't or make offers you can't back up. It'll destroy your credibility and make you look like a small, weak person who wants to appear big and powerful. Face it. You're not.
  10. Never make a mistake you have to live with. An old boss once said this to me and, while he was referring to his ex-wife who took him to the cleaners in a divorce, there are certainly examples of work-related mistakes that can haunt you forever: 10 Ways to Destroy Your Management Career.
Lastly, I'd steer clear of any snide or sarcastic references to earthquakes, Tsunamis, or nukes for a while. Show a little sensitivity, will you?

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