5 ways to separate your foot and mouth

Foot-in-mouth disease is something most people must learn to avoid by first-hand experience.

There are any number of phrases that it's just common sense to avoid in common conversation. I learned many years ago never to ask a woman when she's expecting -- unless I know absolutely, without a doubt, that she is indeed pregnant. Likewise, there's a slew of phrases that can get you in hot water at the office. Some can truly limit your career growth in your current position; others are a bad idea to say to a prospective boss in a job interview. Here is a list of phrases you should never utter at work, and a recommendation for what you might say instead.

Real Simple has come up with a useful list of ways to turn troublesome phrases into positive statements. Here are five of their suggestions.

1. "That's not my job." Really? This commonly repeated expression relies on some bad assumptions. In reality, if your manager asked you to do it, then it actually is your job. A better alternative: "My plate is pretty full right now. How should I prioritize this?"

2. "I'm busy." That's rude. Instead, you can deflect a conversation by saying something like, "I'm in the middle of something; can I circle back in an hour?"

3. "This might should stupid, but ..." Don't undermine your ideas; leave out the comment and just say what's on your mind. People use this expression as a low-risk way to speak up in a meeting, but it can damage your credibility.

4. "My current boss is a bad manager." Or any variation in which you imply you're job-shopping to put distance between you and your current boss. Always speak well of your current management. If answering why you're looking to leave, say that you're looking for new challenges -- or something equally innocuous.

5. "What are the hours here?" Don't ask about the vacation policy, either. Instead, ask what a typical day is like, or what the usual activities are. Only ask about hours and vacation if you shake the tree several times and don't get what you're looking for. After asking about day-to-day operations, then you can say, "Please tell me about compensation and benefits."