Language can affect how people see you and you want to be taken seriously, whether it is with your clients, your boss or your colleagues. Most of us have misused a word or phrase at one time or another–in a meeting, a written report, a conversation, or even in public speaking. Whether you find out about it right away or long after the fact, it’s embarrassing to realize you’ve gotten something wrong, especially in front of people you were trying to impress.
What makes a professional sound so… professional? Here is a list of phrases/Commonly Misused Phrases that should be avoided at all costs if you are looking to make a good impression.
Translation: My opinion is the only one that matters, it’s my way or the highway!
Alternative: I think I see things in a different way, such as…
“It’s not my fault”
Translation: it may or may not be my fault but I am too afraid to admit it. Either way and I’m definitely not taking responsibility for it.
Alternative: Let’s come up with a solution to fix it.
“Trust me on this”
Translation: I am hoping for a miracle just as much as you are but I haven’t figured out how I am going to pull this off yet.
Alternative: I am currently working on a solution.
I believe this solution will work.
“Is that okay?”
Translation: HELP ME, I have no idea what I am doing and I am hoping your response will let me know one way or the other.
Alternative: Is this what you had in mind?
“If you say so”
Translation: I’m annoyed, have stopped listening and do not respect what you are saying any longer but can’t be bothered to discuss it.
Alternative: Okay I understand what you are saying.
“*Insert name* told me to do it”
Translation: I can’t think for myself and I am blaming someone else for my mistakes because I didn’t think it through to begin with.
Alternative: Sorry, we clearly made a mistake here.
“No offense, but”
There is no alternative here, but if you have to say “no offense” before something then it is probably not appropriate or professional to say whatever is coming next and you should avoid it altogether.
“It’s a win-win”
Translation: I am winning and you’re getting something minimal that I am hoping to get away with, without you noticing.
Alternative: I think this is mutually beneficial
“I’m the real deal”
Translation: I’m full of myself and I am about to make that much more obvious (in case you hadn’t already noticed).
“To be honest”
Translation: This is probably a lie, but what is a lie really? I am hoping to convince you otherwise.
Alternative: If you want my opinion, I think…
These may seem like small distinctions, but they can make a huge difference in how you’re perceived.