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What’s Holding You Back at Work?

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Can’t get promoted or having trouble gaining respect? There are a few things that may be holding you back at work.

“I’d like to, but, __________”

Do you use the word “but”? Managers and supervisors hate that. You’re supposed to use the word “and” whenever you can. Managers understand you can’t always do that, but try not to focus on the negative. That’s usually why they’re coming to you. To try and turn a negative into a positive, so by using the word “and”, it doesn’t have any negative connotations for what you’re trying to say, so try and use “and” not “but”. Also try and avoid “however” because that’s just a fancy “but”.


“Well, I’ll try…”

When you’re asked to do something, do you say “I’ll try”? That’s also bad. Remember in The Empire Strikes Back and Yoda and Luke are trying to lift the X-Wing out of the bog and Luke says “Alright. I’ll give it a try” and Yoda says “Do or do not. There is no try”? It’s true. When you say “I’ll try” it means that whatever it is you’re being asked to do you may not finish and it doesn’t sound very good. If you think that you may not have time to finish whatever it is you’re being asked to do, say something and explain why. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.


“Don’t ask me. I don’t know.”

It’s a bad idea to say “I don’t know” even if you truly don’t know. Saying “I don’t know” sounds like a cop out. Though you’re likely telling the truth, don’t tell them that you don’t know. You’ll look and sound like a much more valuable employee if you say, “Let me find out and get back to you.” That makes you sound motivated and interested to solve their problem, whatever it is they need to you to find out or do.


“Well, I think __________”

Saying “I think” doesn’t sound very confident. Starting too many sentences with “I think” sounds weak and sounds like you’re unsure of yourself. It’s also a tad redundant because you’re the one saying it. Also saying “I can’t” or “That’s not my job” are two phrases you want to use if you’re planning on committing career suicide.

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