Don’t Say That! Say This.

See no evil

Sometimes the wrong thing comes out of your mouth.

Some time ago in a business office setting, I was asked a question to which I responded:

“I was never told how to do that.”

The then-coworker replied:

“Remember those instructions from about three weeks ago?”

Me (sheepishly) “Oh, yes. I’m sorry. I totally forgot to apply those instructions. I should have said, ‘I don’t remember.’ “

This situation taught me a lesson.

It’s easy to become defensive if we’ve made a mistake at work, and immediately claim that we were never told we were responsible for a task, or told how to do it. It’s quite possible we weren’t, but somewhere in all the dialogs at work, we very well may have been informed. In other words…gasp…we could be WRONG.

This got me to thinking about things we can say in certain situations that would be more professional than other responses. Here are a few I thought of:

Instead of “I was never told to do that.”
Say, “I’m sorry. I’m don’t recall this. Can you refresh me?”

Instead of, “It’s not my job.”
Say, “I’m not familiar with that responsibility but I’m willing to learn.”

Instead of, “I don’t have time for that.”
Say, “This is not a good time for me to give that the attention it deserves.”

Instead of, “I can’t afford to go to lunch.”
Say, “Thank you, but that’s not going to work for me today.”

Instead of, “She’s really in a mood today,”
Say, “I wonder what I can do to help/bless her today?”

Instead of, “You all need to quiet down.”
Say, “Shut up!”

(Kidding!)

What other “not this, but that” statements can you come up with?

Comments

comments

Beth Beutler is the Executive Director of H.O.P.E. Unlimited, a small business offering collaborative virtual assistance and business soft skill education to Help Overwhelmed Professionals Excel. She has over 25 years experience in administrative assistance and office management, soft skills training, and writing.