In December 1999 I discovered this document. I’m not sure of the origin but I kept it because I thought it embodied so much of the work ethic issues I observed in many people. Almost 20 years later, I still read it several times a year.
What does it take to get ahead in business? Knowing what not to say is a starter. Eliminate all negative phrases.
Expression: “They didn’t get back to me.” Or “They are getting back to me.”
Reason: Expecting someone to get back to you stops the action. Take the initiative. Never wait for anyone to return your telephone call.
Expression: “I thought someone else was taking care of that.”
Reason: Excuses indicate a roadblock to action. You do what you’re told, but don’t think about what should be happening. Always ask questions to keep things moving.
Expression: “No one ever told me.”
Reason: If a supervisor hears you express yourself this way too often, it will only make a clear statement about the way you work–that you operate in a tunnel, oblivious to everything that is going on around you.
Expression: “I didn’t know you wanted me to do that.”
Reason: This expression indicates that you are only capable of doing what you are told and nothing else.
Expression: “I didn’t think about that.”
Reason: An inability to see down the road may indicate that you lack the ability to understand and grasp relations.
Expression: “But it isn’t due until…”
Reason: Last-minute performance is seldom the best you have to give. Managers know that what’s done in haste doesn’t leave time for proper evaluation, revision and refinement.
Expression: “But they said it would be done on time.”
Reason: There’s only one problem–it wasn’t. Why? Because you failed to check to determine progress and possible problems.
Expression: “As I understand it…”
Reason: Using words like this indicates that you’re a bystander, not an active participant. Spectators don’t play the game, and they don’t get rewards.
Expression: “It’s scheduled for…”
Reason: The schedule is only important if completion will be on time. Schedules must be actively verified as many times as necessary.
Expression: “I’ve been trying to get everyone together, but…”
Reason: Using these words gives the appearance that you can’t handle responsibility or that your associates and co-workers don’t respond to you.