“What the Fish”: Words & Phrases to avoid in everyday professional communication



While we are at work, situations pop up that bring out a few words out of our mouth, which we may later regret. Some of them may be harmless, yet they may not work in the best way towards building a good perception with our colleagues. The same is applicable in interviews.

There are a lot of such words and phrases that you may think are not appropriate, and I would suggest you do give your thinking its due credit. Whenever you feel the next sentence you are about to speak, or word you are about to use may not be apt for this situation, don’t.

"Kamaan se teer aur zabaan se shabd wapas nahi aate"

Here are a few words and phrases that we recommend you avoid in day to day interactions in the professional setting:

1. I don’t know: this conveys lack of confidence and clarity. It also shows your inability to think through a situation

2. Fillers -You know, Like, I mean, I think: fillers are a major distraction to people who are listening to you. Try to substitute these with pauses or try to breathe in between sentences.

3. That is over my pay scale / I will do only what I’m paid for / I’m too busy: it shows your limited thinking and approach at work, lack of ownership and initiative, or planning for that matter

4. What the …”: even without the ‘F’ word, this shortened expression conveys the lack of control over your speech and is always inappropriate at work

5. ASAP: is by no means the way to convey urgency. It shows you are unplanned and are trying to push others. Instead, convey the specific day and time by then you need something.

6. Complaining or blaming sentences - he’s lazy, that team is like this only, it’s not my fault: there are two things complaining or blaming does – a. It conveys your negative attitude in general and b. it shows that you resort to it when something goes wrong

7. No, But or no, no, no: the moment you start your sentence with a no, you are negating what the other person just said. If you use too many no’s you will more likely end up arguing with people. Start with “Yes, and” or “Yes, at the same time”.

I am guessing using swear words and sarcasm is already out of the picture for you. If you have heard other words or phrases that people say, which are not appropriate in the professional context, please do share in the comments below.

It is important that we improve our vocabulary on a daily basis to be able to use better words to express ourselves while keeping the tone professional. It also creates a good impression on others when we are able to smoothly use good words in our speech. Here is one of the most famous and well structure books on improving vocabulary, word power made easy:


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