As you climb the corporate ladder, it's best to watch what you say and how you say it.

To help, we've compiled a list of common phrases that may be hurting your work life and prepared alternative statements to help you turn any conflict around.

1. Say "This doesn't work. What if we try this instead?" instead of "I can't."

When you say you can't do something, you're also drawing the line on your abilities and competence. When you come as the bearer of bad news, make sure you present it with some positivity. Being the Negative Nancy will affect the whole dynamic of the team.


Always come prepared to counter a "can't" with a suggestion that you believe will work better. For instance, if you can't make it to a meeting, say, "This date doesn't fit my schedule, but we can meet the day after instead."

If for some reason you physically cannot attend to something that you were tasked to do, provide a simple explanation and enlist the help of another co-worker. If you do this, ensure that you take full responsibility for your co-worker's output.

READ ALSO: Here's How Just the Sound of Your Voice Could Affect Your Career

2. Say "It turns out..." instead of "We regret to inform you..."

Starting your business e-mail or any message with lines of "regrets" may cause unnecessary panic in the seconds leading up to the part where you address any menial concerns.

In 2011, Apple's Genius Bar banned the use of the word "unfortunately," which is a much more positive spin to "We regret to inform you," and replaced this with "as it turns out" to sound less negative. 

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3. Say "Moving forward, let's do it this way," instead of "You should have..."

Try not to cast the first stone by stating that someone "should have" done something a particular way. Lynda Zugec from The Workforce Consultants tells Forbes that by saying this, you automatically put yourself in the position of a superior.

To remedy this, she suggests that you present an alternative behavior or help one come to their own solution. 

READ ALSO: Cubicle Coach: 5 Things That Could Be Killing Your Career

4. Say "I'm happy I get to catch up with you," instead of "I've been so busy."

When you start off by stating how busy you've been, you are alternatively saying that the person or task you're addressing is not your top priority. Some might also think you manage your time inefficiently.

It's all about the perception of time, which is a scarce and therefore valuable resource. Show that you're happy to be spending your time with someone, especially if it's a working relationship with, say, a client.


5. Say "I will find out," instead of "I don't know."

Don't get us wrong. You don't have to have an answer to every question you're asked—you just have to show the willingness to provide an answer.

"In the business world, a person who speaks with confidence is likely to be perceived as competent," says Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching. Instead, she suggests saying, "Good question, I'll find out."

READ ALSO: What to Do When You Feel Like You're Not Growing in Your Career

6. Say "Alternatively, we could..." instead of "No, I don't agree with you."

When discussing opposing opinions, a simple "no" can be direct but can also come off as harsh. You owe the person you're negating an explanation of your stance, so it's best to provide curt reasoning.

Never say you're disagreeing with someone since that will sound personal, but smoothly segue to a proposed alternative instead.


7. Say "Thanks for pointing that out," instead of "I'm so sorry about this."

You might think apologizing is polite, but apologizing excessively can get tiring to hear. It also renders you powerless or makes you look insecure. The chronic apologizer must try to find other ways to address a mishap.

Instead of saying "I'm so sorry I'm running a little late," you could say, "Thank you for waiting for me. I'll be there in a few minutes." Fast Company editor Kat Boogaard found that swapping "sorry" for more gratuitous words helped her move on from her mistake faster.

. Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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