Many professionals unknowingly undermine their careers. That’s right. They either self-destruct or limit their career potential by giving away their power in communication.

How? They do it by communicating certain phrases either verbally or in e-mails.

By eliminating the use of such phrases, you’ll look and feel more successful. Seriously? Yes, you’ll project stronger self-confidence, intelligence and credibility.

So avoid using these 10 phrases:

“I hate to ask” or “Sorry to ask” – You’re giving away your power if you’re asking for something that’s part of someone’s job or is reasonable.

In essence, you’re apologizing. Don’t apologize unless it’s necessary.

“Does this make sense?” – There two possible ramifications from using this phrase.

The other person might be insulted because the phrase implies the person doesn’t have enough intelligence to understand your point.

The other possibility – it makes it appear as though you are inadequate in explaining something.

“This is probably a stupid question, but …” – Understand that there are no stupid questions. If you don’t know the answer to something, simply ask your question. You run the risk of looking as though you don’t have self-confidence.

“I wanted to ask …” — Always aim to use an economy of words. This phrase is unnecessary. Just ask your question. People who get to the point quickly also accelerate their careers at a faster rate.

“I may be wrong” – In business, many ideas are worth millions of dollars. Don’t devalue or lessen the impact of your ideas before you even mention it.

“I think” – This phrase introduces a thought in the other person’s mind that you’re really not certain. Be confident and use a phrase like, “My sense is that …”

I’m looking for another job” or “I don’t make enough money” – If either is true, it’s no longer a secret.

“I hate her/him” – Never complain about one of your peers or your boss. Sooner or later, it will get back to the other person and it will only hurt your reputation. Plus, carrying around a bag of resentments will only wear you out emotionally. Positive, enthusiastic people earn promotions and raises.

“He/she is hot” – Again, don’t ignite the rumor mill in your office. Keep your conversations and e-mails on a professional level.

“I want a raise” – It’s OK to make your case in person for a raise, but never ask your boss for a raise in an e-mail. Always discuss money in face-to-conversations, after you’ve laid the groundwork to ask your boss for a pay raise.

Finally, if you want to accelerate your career, you can do yourself a favor by using two thoughtful phrases in the majority of your conversations and e-mails.

The phrases are “please” and “thank you.” Think I’m kidding? Try it for a month and you’ll experience a positive difference in how people respond to you.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are additional career tips:

The Professional Way to Disagree with Your Boss — If you value your job and reputation, there are productive ways and unproductive ways to disagree with your boss. Here’s how to do it professionally.

Workplace Bullying – Tips for Victims and Bosses — Workplace issues include bullying. It’s a widespread problem for employers and employees, alike. Here are valuable tips for both employers and workplace victims.

Having Trouble Seeing Your Way through the Glass Ceiling? 5 Tips — If you’re having trouble breaking through the glass ceiling, you probably need a change in strategies. There can be several reasons for your struggle to break through the glass ceiling.

Responding to Criticism Requires Professionalism — No one likes being criticized in their work. It’s difficult to hear and it’s understandable why many people make the mistake of being defensive. If you get negative feedback, it’s in your best interest to remain calm and receptive. It’s actually your responsibility – to yourself and the organization.

5 Personality Traits for Personal and Professional Success — Five personality traits are important for overcoming stress and achieving goals academically, professionally and in personal relationships.

Checklist to Build Self Confidence for Career Success — Everybody occasionally struggles with self-confidence. But some people have continuing low self-esteem. Their lack of confidence serves as a big obstacle.

“Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.”

-Christopher Lasch


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

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