Your professional reputation, your career growth, keeping your job and succeeding at work all depend greatly on the way you express yourself verbally and in written form.

Yet one could be surprised how often otherwise good professionals break basic communication rules and create a negative image for themselves by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at inappropriate time.

Read on to find out what phrases to avoid in your professional communication.

How to phrase your e-mail correspondence

Before addressing the phrasing topic there is another important issue to be taken into consideration – your e-mail address. In case you have a company e-mail, it will be designed appropriately, probably containing your name and surname and the company name or abbreviation.

In case you are using your own e-mail make sure to stick to the same components to use for creating your e-mail and avoid by any means words like “angels, sexy stuff, cuties” and such.

Most white collar jobs include e-mail correspondence and it is highly important to know how to express yourself in written form. Even if you are writing an e-mail to a colleague, with whom you are friendly and even joke around at the office, when you write an e-mail you should stick to the basics:

  • use polite form when addressing the person;
  • use correct punctuation;
  • be concise and clear;
  • do not waste anyone’s time with long essays;
  • finish the e-mail with appropriate signature.

When signing your e-mail make sure you use your entire name and title and avoid shortened names or nicknames of yours. Same goes for corresponding with your managers, subordinates, clients, subcontractors and company partners.

Also make sure you include all the necessary information such as importance of your e-mail or task you are writing about, how soon you expect an answer to your query. In case you are out of the office for more than a day, it’s best to prepare an automated response letting others know when you will be able to respond and who to contact for urgent requests.

How to talk to your superiors

Knowing exactly where you stand is crucial. Whatever your age or qualifications when communicating to your superiors you need to keep a professional, polite and respectful tone at all times. Avoid ever calling them by the little name or addressing them with “pall”, “bro”, “darling”, etc.

Phrases you should never use in front of your managers include:

  • “This is not my job!”– Indeed that particular task may not be included in your job description and even it may be impertinent on your manager’s part to ask you to perform the task, but you could phrase yourself milder. For example you could say: “I don’t think I’m the best person to perform that task” or “Unfortunately I believe I’m not skilled for that job, perhaps John would be a better fit for the task at hand”, “This task is outside my competences”, etc.
  • “I don’t know … whatever” – Presumably your managers ask you something you should know and openly stating you do not, leaves the impression you also don’t care. Try phrasing it differently and make sure you include your intentions of gaining the skill or knowledge in question.
  • “I don’t care!” – You are supposed to care about your job and duties or at least pretend to. Openly stating you don’t care means your boss shouldn’t care whether you work for him or not and he or she would probably soon find someone who cares.

How to talk to your colleagues

The phrases stated also should be avoided when talking to your colleagues. Also try to avoid being too familiar, close and friendly, when your co-workers are clearly drawing a line. Too much personal details and chatter may also be found annoying by some. The contrary is also to be avoided – make sure you communicate every once in a while, especially if the atmosphere is such.

Do not use imperative tone towards your co-workers, since it is your manager’s job to delegate and monitor. And make sure everything you say at the office, you can openly say in front of any member of the team – in order to avoid gossip and chatter.

How to talk to your subordinates

Until recently it was believed that a successful manager is a power figure, instilling respect by its tall stature, thick mustaches and imperative tone. Today there are many managerial styles and tactics, but one thing is certain, the imperative tone is in the past, so avoid phrases such as:

“Because I say so!” – If you really feel explaining the reason is unnecessarily you still could say something like: “Thus dictates the company policy” or something similar. In case some explanation could help, you could include your reasons for taking this decision, without going into too much details.

Also research shows that including the whole team into decision-making and project development improves significantly everyone’s motivation. Make sure you point out successes as well as failures. Be clear in your expectations, especially when you delegate tasks. But most importantly make sure you give and receive proper feedback.

How to talk to clients

Everyone working in the customer service field knows there are some clients, who could just get you out of your skin. There is a simple rule, though – make sure whatever you reply back if cited in front of your manager or anyone else could not be misinterpreted, you are respectful, professional and clear.