Communicating clearly is vital to your workplace relationships, especially with your not-so-favorite coworkers and your manager. Sometimes, words can actually get in the way, so it’s incredibly important to choose the ones that prove you can communicate like an adult at work. Don’t forget to show that you have a confident, powerful speaking voice. Here are some commonly misused words and phrases to eliminate from your work vocab entirely, along with a few ideas for statements you can smartly share instead.


1. “No worries!” Maybe one of the worst things you can utter at the office, “no worries” feels more like you’re doing your boss or colleague a favor than crushing a killer assignment. While it’s cool to be upbeat and helpful (and your cheery personality is probably why your team loves you), maintaining your professional ‘tude will help you earn more respect while also showing everyone that you take your projects seriously.

2. “It’s impossible.” Do NOT ever utter “it’s impossible,” even if under your breath. Not only does it make you seem super pessimistic, but also shows passive-aggressive tendencies. Your can-do attitude will take you everywhere, so exhaust every single possible solution before presenting options to your manager or team. Once you’ve reached your limit, start by saying, “Here are the things I’ve tried and what I found.”

3. “Sorry.” Don’t use “sorry” at work unless you’re actually apologizing for a legitimate mistake and it’s accompanied with a fix. Otherwise, you run the risk of drowning people with apologies, when, often, what you actually need is help or direction. Be clear about what you need or want and stop there. There’s really no need to apologize for that!

4. “This is crazy, but…” Remember that some of the best ideas are outside of the box and that you don’t need to introduce yours with a qualifier. Instead, try: “I’m thinking about this a bit differently. What if we try it like this?” We bet you’ll be surprised by the open reception you get by confidently sharing your thoughts with enthusiasm.

5. “Okay?” When you qualify a cool idea after sharing it with “okay…?”, it says that you’re not really sure, which likely isn’t the case at all. Instead of seeking instant validation, try letting whatever you said just hang for a moment as your manager or team takes it in. If you want quick feedback, try asking, “Where do you stand on it?” or “When can I start working on this?”

two coworkers in office

6. “She had great synergy.” Synergy is something that happens between two or more organizations or agents. Don’t confuse it with “energy,” and use it when describing a magnetic teammate, partner or interviewee. You can totally use synergy to talk about the connection between cross-functional teams or ideas, though.

7. “I’m too busy.” You know what people say about Beyoncé: She has the same hours in a day as the rest of us! If you’re truly overwhelmed by your workload and get a request from a teammate, let them know you’re booked solid, and kindly ask if they can source the task to someone else instead. If your boss asks you for a favor when you’re slammed, try saying “I’m also working on a report and our big Q1 project. Can you help me prioritize?” Like Queen Bey has taught us, focus is key. Show ‘em that you know that.

8. “I’ll try.” You’re a paid employee, so trying goes without saying. It’s your job! Instead of saying you’ll try, express why you feel hesitation. If your concern is a tricky assignment, too much work or a tight deadline, talk to your boss about how to re-arrange what you’re working on to make it happen.

9. “I’m anxious to get started!” Anxiety is the terrible feeling that can drive you to bite your nails or gorge on office snacks, which is the total opposite of being “eager.” Unfortunately, the two words often get swapped, which may lead you to tell a potential vendor, partner or new manager that you’re “anxious” about starting on something new. If you don’t want to use the word “eager” to share your excitement, simply try “excited.” Both words will communicate that you have good vibes about whatever’s coming up next!

10. “In the spirit of over-communication.” What over-communicating ACTUALLY means is spreading a message repeatedly without sharing a single new thought. Don’t use “over communicate” unless you really ARE sharing something that’s already been widely stated. It’s just annoying and completely ineffective otherwise.

Which misused words and phrases drive you nuts? Share them with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)