Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 21

Bad Habits that Make People Ignore You

Appearing noncommittal and needlessly apologizing during workplace conversations can keep managers from getting ahead, says a communications guru.

Emily Nickerson, career columnist for The Daily Muse, recently revealed three common communication missteps managers make at work that make them appear as if they lack authority. They are:

  • Asking questions instead of making a statement. "Does everything you say? Come out sounding? Like a question?" she asks. "When I find myself ending a sentence at work with that lilt, it means I'm unsure of what I'm saying and trying to read my listener to see if he or she is going to agree with where our conversation is headed... The fix, I've found, is to make sure I can stand behind everything I'm saying. Before going into an important meeting, I'll run through all of the reasons why I stand behind my recommendation."
  • Apologizing when it's not your fault. "There's no reason to begin criticisms with ‘I'm sorry, but...,'" Nickerson says. "If you're having a disagreement with a co-worker or a problem with a subordinate, simply state the issue. ‘I'm sorry, but this report isn't what I was looking for' doesn't soften the blow—and it again turns the situation around on you. Be direct and put the responsibility back where it belongs: ‘This report doesn't cover what we had previously discussed—can you revise it?' Even something as small as, ‘I'm sorry, but could you clean your spaghetti splatter out of the microwave?' sounds better without the prefacing apology."
  • Giving pros and cons instead of your recommendation. "If you consistently let someone else make the call before making up your own mind, you'll look like the person who plays it safe, not smart, and simply follows the crowd," she says.

This article is from the Nov. 19, 2012 issue.

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