There are some negative phrases we’ve heard so often at work, that we may suddenly find ourselves saying them. They represent a frame of mind that is cynical, despondent, helpless and victimized.
Research shows that what we say reinforces what we think. Say something often enough, and it becomes how you see the world. That’s why we have to watch out for these pessimistic phrases. If you ever find yourself saying them, stop and ask yourself if it actually represents the truth or if maybe it’s more of an automatic verbal uttering.
Some pessimistic phrases to avoid
Here’s a partial list of phrases to watch for. Do you know any that belong on the list?
“It’s not my dream job, but it’s only for a year…”
ONLY A YEAR? Don’t you realize that a year is 12 months? 200 working days? 1600 hours?
Say this instead: “It’s not the ideal job, so I didn’t take it.”
“He’s a jerk, but he gets results!”
Yeah, HE gets results – everybody else gets demotivated, bullied, harassed and stressed. Go read The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton. And his excellent blog.
Say this instead: “He’s a jerk, so we fired him!”
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Murphy’s law. The safe haven for pessimists everywhere. Too bad it ain’t true.
Say this instead: “Things may go wrong – then we fix them!”
“My boss doesn’t motivate me.”
Listen: No boss ever motivated a single employee in the history of employment. Motivation is an emotion – your motivation exists inside you, and you’re in charge of it.
Say this instead: “I motivate me.”
“I hate my job – but so does everyone else.”
Hating your job may be a common enough thing today – but so is adult onset diabetes. That doesn’t mean you don’t do something about it!
Say this instead: “I hated my job. So I got a new one.” or “I hated my job, so I fixed it.”
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”
Except that there is. Plenty. The world is a generous, forgiving and nurturing place, and sometimes you get exactly what you need exactly when you need it.If you’re open to it, that is.
Say this instead: “Can I buy you lunch?”
“What’s wrong with people today?!”
If every single person you interact with seems incredibly annoying… the problem may be you.
Say this instead: “Hmmm… I seem to be easily annoyed today.”
“I’m stuck in a dead-end job.”
Riiight. You’re stuck. There’s no way out. Because three men in ski-masks show up every morning and force you to go to work at gunpoint.
Say this instead: “I am where I’ve chosen to be! And if I want, I can choose to be somewhere else.”
“Let’s not get carried away!”
WHAT?! There is nothing better than being carried away by a great idea, nice people, a fun meeting or a good conversation.
Say this instead: “This is wonderful!”
“It’s too good to be true!”
Funny how you never hear people saying “This is too bad to be true.”
Say this instead: “This is great. I love it!”
“What’s the catch?”
Sometimes there just ain’t no catch.
Say this instead: “Thank you!”
“You can’t trust people.”
Nonsense. Most people are nice, honest and loyal. Are you gonna treat them badly because of the tiny percentage of cheaters?
Say this instead: “People are great!”
The worst thing about these sayings, is that if you keep repeating them, you make it so. If that is how you see the world, then your choices, your speech and your actions will reinforce this view. That’s why it’s worth replacing them with something more true.
What about you – got any more pessimistic workplace sayings we can flush out and replace?
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13 thoughts on “If you ever find yourself saying…”
I seem to get “It’ll never work” when it really should be “Let’s try it and see what happens”. Another common one is “But nobody else is doing it so why should we?” when it should be “No one else is doing it? Great! Let’s be the first!
Great post Alexander :)
Super post Alex!
I sometimes hear a variation that sounds like this, “I hate my job, but the benefits are too good to quit.”
Paternalism that says, “we’ll take care of you” is a sad exchange for living, dreaming and doing. Where’s the happiness in being “mothered” by the big corp?
Keep creating…I know YOU will,
Great post Alex – I would add any sentence with the word….”but” and at the top of the list
I like your idea but… and replace with I like the idea how do you see it working with x….
Alex– Just wanted to let you know that I’m (hopefully) leaving the job that I’m loyal to, one that I’ve liked but never loved, to one that pays slightly less but in which I will be happy. I never had a wake-up call moment reading your blog that made me decide to do the switch, but I still feel that your blog had something to do with it. Every time I read your posts, in my head I balance happiness at work versus the other benefits, such as pay and prestige. After a while, the scale invariably tipped towards happiness. Thanks. :)
With what can we replace the phrase (and attitude!) of, “It’s not my job” and “I don’t have time” ?
Avoid the sentence “No.” is SO distructive!
If you want to say “No” – always use a sentence to explain the issue and why you can’t agree.
Oh and never say “I dont care” always say “I dont mind”
Start tasting the candy in brussel sprouts TODAY
This is really uplifting stuff, makes me realise that half the negative things we encounter during the day are due to our own mindset