Orlando Scampington

You want to be successful. Everyone does, even the new guy in sales who eats too much yogurt. But your words — the thoughts you say out loud via your mouth — might be super-kicking your chance of success in the face. What you’re saying in the office might be knocking you down the career ladder, jamming up the job escalator, weighing down the money elevator, and putting your dreams out of reach. Here are ten things you should never say (or even think) while at work.

1. “You’re not the boss of me”
While this is a statistical likelihood in most of your workday conversations, there’s still a remote chance that your actual boss is talking to you. Instead of using this limiting statement, use the more inquisitive & open-ended, “hey, are you my boss?” and respond accordingly.

2. “Let’s hold this paintball tournament in the office.”
While it may take more time and energy to get your company to an off-site paintball location, people will appreciate your effort. Going the extra mile always pays off. Plus, holding the tournament in your workspace gives an unfair advantage to those who’ve been there longer and know the layout & best hiding spaces (like, in the IT closet or behind that big plant near the dev team).

3. “Yarrgh, rough seas ahead, mateys”
This classic line is problematic for two reasons. One, it’s casts a negative light on your team’s future endeavors — you’ve basically told people that things are going to be difficult. Low morale and decreased expectations do not lead to success. Secondly, if you’re not in a nautical work environment, this line will generate a high level of confusion/concern and damage your reputation. Reputation is important.

4. “Dead clown removal isn’t in my job description”
When you accepted your current position, you had a good idea of what the responsibilities and workload of the role would entail. However, your role has expanded and changed. Some of these changes have likely been good, while others have made you wish for a simpler time when there were fewer dead clowns. When a boss or manager piles another deceased harlequin on your already sore shoulders, it might be tempting to pull out this classic gem of work avoidance. Don’t. Carry those dead clowns all the way to the top.

5. “I’ll get this to you yesterday via time travel”
Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Saying you don’t have to abide by the linear progression of time and flaunting your temporal freedom may mark you as “a showoff” or “a rebel” or “hey, check out Farty McFly over here.” Keep a low profile and stick to future due dates.

6. “Clam chowder? I just met her!”
This phrase has no conceivable use in a work setting and should probably be avoided at all costs.

7. “Do you want to play Stapler Tag?”
Competitive games are a great way to build up trust, collaboration, and cameraderie within a team. That being said, Stapler Tag is just too dangerous and should be considered an after-work activity. The same is true for Chair Racing, Ultimate Intern Fighting, Mystery Leftover Roulette, and CMO Baiting.

8. “I can do it myself.”
Steve Jobs. Winston Churchill. Rocky Balboa. Bilbo Baggins. The Lone Ranger. What do all these people have in common? They all tried and failed to go it alone. Everyone needs help & support, even renowned tech guru & angel investor, Bilbo Baggins (currently on the advisory boards of 1Rng2Rule, Uber Giant Eagle, & Hobbitly).

9. “This is the way it’s always been done.”
Know who else refused to change and said “this is the way it’s always been done”? A little organization you may have heard of… called the dinosaurs. Instead of accepting structural adjustments (fewer middle management roles, consolidation of omnivore & herbivore departments, etc), cultural changes (restrictions on paid time off, reduced volcano insurance coverage, etc), and new leadership (out: risk-taking stegosaurus, Pablo T. Sterling ; in: more traditional brontosaurus, Sandra May Collins), the dinosaurs stayed the course and lost everything. Don’t let tradition be the shackles that drag you down.

10. “It’s not my fault”
In the eyes of the law, it actually is. Everyone saw and heard what happened so there’s no need to pretend at this point. Replacing the toaster in the 2nd floor kitchen and sending your court-mandated donation to the Animal Rescue League won’t change what’s been done. Own your mistakes.