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The Worst Thing You Can Say at the Office

Collage of workplace interactions

Collage of workplace interactionsAre you an apologizer? Sure, when you accidentally eat someone else’s brown bag lunch or literally run into a co-worker in the hallway, an apology is in order. But too many people apologize every time they open their mouths at the office. Perhaps these preambles sound familiar: “This may be a dumb idea, but…” “I’m not sure this will work, but…” “I’m sorry if someone else already thought of this…” Not only do these statements dull the impact of whatever comes after it, but the long-term effects can be enormous. Co-workers and higher-ups will dismiss you as ineffective, annoying, and, well, not very bright. This can affect your chances of promotion and limit your earning power. Do I have your attention now?

It’s natural to want to protect your ego in case your idea isn’t met with kudos, but even if it falls flat, you need to remember not to take a dismissal of your idea as a dismissal of you. It’s not personal; it’s business. Next time you have a great suggestion, tamp down your natural tendency to apologize in advance for wasting their time. Keep it simple. “What if we…?” “I’d like to try…” “Have you considered the benefits of…?” Simply injecting a dose of confidence into your presentation will immediately add more weight to your ideas. It may take a while to rebuild your credibility with your colleagues, but a steady diet of confident contributions will eventually pay off in a tangible way.

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