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7 Phrases to Avoid in Meetings to Keep It Professional

In meetings with colleagues, clients/customers or your boss, you need to consider the way you speak, specifically the words you use, to give the right, professional, impression.

It can be difficult, especially if you’re just getting your foot on the career ladder, to have a voice in meetings and be respected. However, the way you portray yourself can be perceived quite clearly through the words and phrases you use. 

You may not even realise the impact of the language you choose. Are you coming across as meek? Arrogant? Unsure? If you want to be a valuable asset to any meeting you attend, you must pick your words carefully and think before you speak. 

We’ve compiled a list of seven phrases that you must stay clear from in order to keep it professional in meetings...

“That’s impossible”

By immediately disregarding someone else’s opinion over and over, everyone is going to think you’re a ‘negative Nancy’, in the corner. Any idea is better than no idea. If it’s simply not plausible, use the out of the box idea as a starting point instead and work your way towards a realistic alternative.

“No problem”

You probably thinking, “Why ‘no problem’? I always say this!” Well by saying “No problem”, you’re literally saying it’s not a problem to do your job. Say “It’d be a pleasure” or “Happy to” instead to keep things positive.

“I understand what you’re trying to say but…”

By saying this you probably haven’t understood what they have said, and want to shoot their idea down and do things your way instead. This phrase is a quickfire way to cause an argument - going backwards and forwards is not productive for anyone. Try to have a clear mind and understand their point of view, otherwise politely explain how you would do things to settle on a solution that both parties are satisfied with.

“It’s not my job” or “I don’t have time”

If you simply don’t want to do the task at hand, it can come across like you’re trying to avoid being a team player. However, you may already have a big workload or the task you’re being asked to do may not be your level of expertise. If your reasons are genuine, discuss this matter privately with your manager to see if it can be delegated to another colleague or if some of your responsibilities can be shifted to someone else to make way for the new opportunity. 

“You could have…”

Never. Ever. Fingerpoint. Using fault-finding words is an easy way to come across as being unprofessional because you’re refusing to take responsibility, especially if you’re dealing with a colleague that you’re managing. Instead, be constructive - “Next time, I would recommend doing…” or “If something like this happens again, please let me know so we can do ABC”. People are far more likely to respect you, and less likely to make the same mistake, if you’re polite about it.

“I’ll try”

Will you really though? You might give it your best shot, but at the end of the day, you won’t lose sleep about it. This is the impression you want to avoid. Replace this phrase with “I will” because you will do it and exceed everyone’s expectations as you do! By being helpful and resourceful, you will be able to develop and maintain strong relationships in the workplace.

“I think…”

As soon as you utter these words, people will shut off. You’re probably not confident with what you’re about to say and so no one will consider your opinion. Avoid words like “think” and “might” and replace them with “can” and “will”. By being confident and speaking with conviction, people are more likely to sit up and listen to what you have to say.

While the phrases and the language you use is of utmost importance in formal meetings, the same rules can be applied to all areas of business communication including email and on the phone. To be perceived as a confident business professional, you must talk like one!

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