There are implications for the language we use. If you want to show concern for the feelings of your coworkers, eliminate the following expressions:
This word is used quite often in casual conversation, but when used in today’s office environment it can feel like someone is dismissing us. Suppose you suggest to your boss that you can approach a project in two different ways and she says “whatever.” She may mean choose whatever approach you think best. But the “whatever” can also mean “don’t bug me about it.” Avoid this word because it can unintentionally send a negative message.
2. NO PROBLEM
This turn of phrase is used a great deal. The speaker may mean, “I’m glad to respond to your request.” But it doesn’t come out that way. It’s as if the speaker is saying, “well, yeah, you’re giving me some mindless little thing to do, but I’ll do it anyway.” For example, perhaps you’ve been asked to grab a coffee for your manager or print out an agenda. We don’t respond with “no problem” when the assignment is big or attractive.
A better, more positive response is to say “I’d be glad to,” or “Of course.”
3. NO WAY
In face-to-face communication with a friend, “no way” may be accompanied by a big smile and a laugh. It could be another way of saying “That’s awesome!” But in business and on digital communications it doesn’t work so well. If your manager asks for a report by a certain date and you say “no way,” you’ll be in trouble. Without positive body language cues, “no way” can sound negative and sharp.
There are times when “understood” might be the proper affirmative. But it also can come across as curt, especially these days, when many people are looking for an emotional connection. If a colleague is telling you that things have been tough at home with kids and work pressures, responding with “understood” can feel dismissive, as if you are too busy to fully share those concerns.
You might get away with this among friends, but in the office it’s often too casual and, almost invariably, imprecise. If someone is asking if you agree with their observations, “totally” is rarely accurate. It suggests you either haven’t listened to, or don’t fully understood what they are saying.
6. I HEAR YOU
If people are sharing, they want you to do more than acknowledge you’ve heard their words. Speakers want to know what your response is.
Nobody wants to feel left out, and this expression leaves out anyone who doesn’t identify as a man. “Guys”, “you guys” and “hey guys,” should have no place in today’s office. Better to say “team” or “colleagues,” or “everybody.”
8. YOU’RE BEING SENSITIVE
This expression is often used in response to a complaint. At its heart, it’s a put down. You’re telling the listener, “The problem is yours. It’s not the workplace or anyone else’s behavior.”