Three Statements to Never Utter in the Workplace and What to Say or Do Instead

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There are three statements that when I hear, truly turns me off – myself and I bet many others around you, too. Here’s what they are and my suggestions on what to say instead.

Don’t Say: That’s the process.

Instead, Say: The rationale behind the process is (articulate the rationale behind it).

Yes, that’s the process and what’s the rationale behind it? Remember, that the process should always support the people and the policies. Thus, there is a reason behind it. Find out, if you also do not yet understand and articulate it. The other person is more likely able to better understand and to cooperate more with you and follow the process.

In case you don’t agree with or the reason behind don’t make sense or is not anymore relevant to the times, please, by all means, propose changes. Both policies and processes are not cast in stone, they can be changed with the help of a proper business case or carefully studies and written proposal.

Don’t Say: I’m busy.

Instead, Say: My schedule is packed until (time). I can make time for you at (time). Will that work?

Usually, when someone needs your help or so and especially if you are a leader or an HR practitioner. Well, I am not an advocate of spreading oneself too thin but when you say you are “busy”, you also block the opportunity to help and mentor. Besides, these days, who isn’t busy, right?

Don’t Say: That’s not possible.

Instead, Say: That’s challenging. Can you tell me more about it? Let’s see how it will work.

There are limitations, I get that. There are ideas that are irrelevant, that’s understandable. There are those that goes to the very bottom of the priority list. I also am an advocate of giving real-time feedback (hindi magpa-asa ng wala).

What I’m talking about is when an idea is shot with “that’s not possible” without fully understanding it first. Let’s not underestimate the ideas of our colleagues even and more so the younger ones. So, exert some effort in understanding before making a decision then give feedback.

These you go. How about you? What do you think shouldn’t be uttered in the workplace? Why and what alternative do you offer?

About Emile Therese

Emile Therese is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a degree in Psychology. She is happily married. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with one amazing daughter (and hopefully at least one more child). She believes that values and character ought to be taught as early as possible and that these are key to community and nation building. This was also how she and her siblings were brought up by their two awesome parents! She is a Certified HR Professional who advocates employee engagement in its entirety. Emile believes that true employee engagement rests on the pillars of basic human needs and in ensuring that process and leadership basics are in place - the employee engagement imperatives. She hopes to contribute to making this world a better place for all of us now and the next generation. She loves sipping tea, conversations, reading and writing. The latter gave birth to two blogs - Purposeful Parenting Journey ( and Engagement Imperative (

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