The week this issue went to press, the story about Donald Trump Jr.'s emails broke, and quite frankly, I immediately
started searching for something—anything—of levity to stop the endless cycle of negative news. What I
found was a story posted by Business Insider about the 25 things you should never say in the workplace (I would add
you never should say these to clients, either). Following are a few of my favorites.
- "Honestly." This small word never should be used to precede any sentence. Its use gives the listener the idea
that in other instances, you aren't honest with what you say.
- "I like the way those pants fit you." Clearly, this sentence—or any other words praising the appearance of
a co-worker or client—could land you in trouble. Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, author of Don't Burp in the
Boardroom, told Business Insider that commenting on a co-worker's or client's physical appearance is considered
unprofessional and could be construed as sexual harassment.
- "I'm sorry to be a bother." Avoid framing a conversation as though you are a bother. Why would you be? Business
Insider suggests "Excuse me, do you have a minute?" as a preferred phrase.
- "I think
" This phrase only is acceptable if you are unsure of what follows. Avoid using it to state something
you know is true. "Our crew will be there at 9 a.m." sounds much more believable than "I think our crew will be there
at 9 a.m."
- "You know, when I started putting on weight, I joined a gym." Why risk hurting someone's feelings by providing
personal advice? This type of information only should be offered when asked.
- "Are you pregnant?" Don't. Ever. Ask. This. Either she isn't or she is and doesn't yet want the public to know.
Neither scenario is a good one.
- "Aren't you ready to retire?" This is nearly as bad as the pregnancy question. People consider their ages (and
financial ability to retire) as private information that no one has the right to ask about.
The next time you are tempted to make a quick comment, take a deep breath and think about what you are going to say.
Your reputation could depend on it.
Ambika Puniani Bailey is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA's vice president of communications and