Common phrases that are sabotaging your career

  • Previous
  • 1 of 5
  • View as single page
iMedia's Best Content of 2014. You're seeing this article on our homepage again because it's part of iMedia's year-end best content roundup. We will return to our regular publishing schedule of original content on Jan. 5.

When you say thoughtless things in meetings, you are sabotaging yourself, the team, and/or your company. The wrong word can cost you an account, a job, a friend, and a partner. Sounds crazy right? But in the words of Mark Twain, "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter -- 'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."

There is no question that words and our style of speaking matter. How you speak and what you say is a reflection of who you are -- as my son would say, "right dude." Our language and delivery are key to our communication and how we are perceived (you got it -- my son is under 21). Regardless of the audience, topic, or industry, or whether the situation is a presentation, sit-down conversation, telephone discussion, an interview, or an online meeting, people use language to either get, give, share, and/or influence others.

Common phrases that are sabotaging your career

Therefore, if you want to be perceived as a smart, valued employee or leader in the workplace, a great place to start is by deliberately choosing to speak words and phrases that are empowering to yourself and others; to use language that captivates, motivates, and inspires; and to communicate a vocal persona that conveys transparency, confidence, and integrity.

As an executive recruiter for the past 17 years, I have had the good fortune to speak with hundreds of executives and senior leaders, whether they are seeking a new position or looking to hire people for their team. Certain phrases consistently come up that make me ponder the underlying issues: "I've been telling my team that we need X and no one's doing it" or "I'm looking to hire people that can outperform my current sales manager." Often, I find that their words and tone reveal insecurities about themselves and negative thinking regarding their co-workers and company. Never before in the history of the human race have we been able to communicate faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive; where people must be cutting-edge, competitive, and cost-effective; and where employees and leaders who don't chose their words carefully will likely be replaced by those who convey a more positive attitude, collaborative spirit, proactive behavior, and professional demeanor -- and it does not matter who you are and how much money you have (i.e. Donald Sterling).