There are some parts of the American language that can attach unwanted labels to your ‘person’ as a manager. These words have the power to limit your career development path. The unfortunate thing is that many of these are taught in motivational and self help seminars.

No Problem

The very fact that you say ‘no problem’ indicates that there was a problem, but you will deal with it. When you are trying to present a competent image the last thing you want to do is bring up the word ‘problem’ in any sense of the word.

Instead of saying ‘no problem’ a better way to address the situation would be to say ‘I have a couple thoughts. Let me find a solution.’ Or, ‘I can get on that right away.’

I’m Sorry

This indicates a sense of incompetence, submission, and ‘un-managerial’ attitude and work ethic. Saying I’m sorry also denotes a sense that you failed, or did not try hard enough. Instead of saying I’m sorry, try to limit your comment to ‘I understand’. Or ‘I will come up with a better way to manage this job.’

I’ll Try

This statement is an outright admission that you feel inferior to the task at hand. It also can include an inherent ‘whine’ or complaint in the statement. We don’t always feel up to the task we are given, and we may resent being asked to do extra work, but we should never let it show.

Instead of saying ‘I’ll Try’ you can affirm that you will take on the job. Saying ‘I’ll Try’ is an emotional word. Instead use a proactive word. A simple ‘yes’ is sufficient. If you have some concerns then don’t keep them to yourself or be vague. Ask if you can give the person a list of your concerns to address before starting the project.

If you really don’t know whether you can do the job then keep a positive attitude. “Sounds Interesting.’ ‘I’m up for a challenge.’ ‘I’d like to be part of this project.’

That’s Not My Job

This can limit your chances of a future promotion faster than any mistake, complaint, or chaos you may cause. There are few things in the manager’s job description that can result in a career crashing downward spiral like this phrase.

This can be a delicate situation. Sometimes we do feel that too much has been placed on our shoulders. Or maybe we are alarmed and feel the job delegated to us is above our pay grade, or worse is doomed to fail and someone is trying to pass the buck.

Part of being a manager is learning how to deal with problems in a way that doesn’t damage our career. Use any situation like this to learn how to deflect career ending problems.

I Can’t

This phrase should never come out of a management candidate’s mouth. When we say ‘I can’t’ our bosses hear ‘I can’t do the job’. Or, ‘Im not able to help you do your job.’ Or, ‘You hired the wrong person.’  There is no way to positively spin this into something positive.

Sometimes you do run into a job that you are not skilled to do. Trying to do your best can be just as devastating as admitting that you cannot do the job. This requires some delicate maneuvering. Can you take a course? Can you ask for some help? Can you request more resources? Asking for help may indicate that you are over your head, without saying ‘I can’t.’


There are few words in the English language that lower the IQ of the whole room like the word ‘get.’ Whether in print, or verbally, eliminate this, and other vague verbs from your vocabulary. These words have a subtle way of undermining your authority.



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