Stop saying these 5 phrases at work right now

I catch myself saying these 5 phrases at work a lot and over the last little while I’ve been making the effort to absolutely stop saying them altogether. These are all phrases that women say for some reason, as if to deliberately appear humble and thoughtful. But if you want to be taken seriously in the workplace, you have to stop sounding lame. Also, notice how men don’t say these things. Gender equality in the workplace is already a massive problem, so ladies, let’s do our part in making sure we come across sounding just as confident and assertive as our male counterparts.

Are you guilty of saying these 5 phrases at work?


Don’t ever say “I just put together a few ideas…” or “I’ll just go do that right now” etc. Saying “just” is not only unnecessary in any sentence at all, but it diminishes your effort and undermines your abilities. Instead, say, “I put together a few ideas…” or “I’ll go do that right now”. Is it just me, or did that sound way more assertive and like I really know what I’m doing? But also, did you catch my use of just just then? Never ever say “is it just me” as if you’re implying you’re not as important as anyone else. It’s never just you. It’s you and you’re amazing so wear that proud.

Does that make sense?

Often, when I’m throwing out a bold idea or two, the room is quiet. Naturally, duh, everyone’s listening right? Of course in the moment, I’m squirming miserably because it’s making me uncomfortable and I just want to make sure everyone still loves me. So I seek validation by saying so, does that make sense? The problem is that the minute those words slip off my tongue, the tone in the room changes from “ohh maybe she’s on to something” to “ohh she’s not sure about her own idea so it must not be that good” and just like that both you and your ideas lost some serious credibility.

I think

If you think you’re being humble by starting a sentence with “I think” you’re not. You’re just being unsure and that means no one is taking you seriously anymore.

Let me know

Now I don’t do this anymore after one of my former coworkers, a very assertive fella, told me it would be in my best interest to never end emails that way. So when you write an email with suggestions to someone important or even your peers, do you close with “let me know”? If not, good for you. But much like “does that make sense”, “let me know” is a way of seeking validation, like you really don’t trust your suggestions. These days, I pay attention to how people I respect vs. everyone else, ends their emails. The people I respect, get to the point right away and close promptly with a thank you or a regards.

Sorry, but…

#sorrynotsorry is not a thing outside of social media. There times and places to apologize if that’s what you’re after. That said, I’m sorry, but is not an apology. It’s a nothing. Once again, you think you’re providing an illusion of humility, but you’re not; you’re seeking validation. AGAIN. Say you’re leading a meeting and two people are off on a tangent. I do believe it’s completely okay to clearly say, I’m sorry to interrupt your tangent. Would you like to take this offline so we can get back on agenda? But it’s not okay to say I’m sorry but can we get back on agenda blah blah. Notice the subtle difference? In the first way, you are truly sorry to interrupt – we all know that’s bad manners. But that’s all you’re sorry for. You are not apologizing for bring the room back on track. In fact, you’re being assertive about it and giving the two idiots a go-forward solution. That’s powerful. In the second way, it sounds like you’re apologizing for your role in bringing the room back on track. That’s weak.

Next time you’re at a meeting, talking to your boss or sending an email, pay attention to these things. See how often you fall into the need to be humble and thoughtful trap.

Anyway, right now though, get to work!