Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

5 Things You Should Never Say in the Law Office

Caution SignSome things are better left unsaid.

That is especially true in the law office – a place of stress and deadlines where loose lips can mean pink slips, and where an ill-considered phrase can have disastrous consequences.

Such as blurting out “Clients are such idiots” in what is thought to be a private conversation but is actually overheard by a client waiting in a nearby conference room.


Or any of the following: Boy, was I wasted last night. Wow, you’ve lost weight – are you sick or something? Just do it and don’t ask questions. You mean the deadline was yesterday? Because I said so. Ethics shmethics. How much was your pay raise? Don’t look at me – I just work here. You look great for your age. Who did you vote for? Don’t tell anyone I said this. Do you go to church? I could never wear that. To be perfectly honest with you ….

And on and on.

So it was with interest that I ran across the online article “13 Things You Should Never Say At Work” from Forbes magazine. It featured pointers from Darlene Price, author of “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results.”

Following are her 13 verbal no-nos, with editorial comments:

  • It’s not fair. (What happens to anyone else is not your concern.)
  • It’s not my problem; That’s not in my job description. (Self-serving, conveys lack of caring.)
  • I think. (Better: “I know” or “I believe.”)
  • No problem. (Should not be used as a substitute for “You’re welcome.”)
  • I’ll try. (Better: “I will.”)
  • He’s a jerk; She’s stupid; They’re lazy; I hate my job. (Name-calling and negativity are morale-killers.)
  • But we’ve always done it this way. (Why?)
  • That’s impossible; There’s nothing I can do. (Better: “Sure, let’s try it.”)
  • You should have done it this way; You could have done this. (That’s reactive. Be proactive: “Next time, let’s do it this way.”)
  • You guys. (Too casual.)
  • This may be a dumb idea, but …. (This is discounting. If it’s so dumb, why bring it up in the first place?)
  • Don’t you think? Okay? (Hedging, seeking validation by non-committal language.)
  • I don’t have time for this right now. (Conveys: My time is more valuable than yours.)

So what about you? What words and phrases would you add to the list? What comments make you cringe?

Send us your suggestions.

Source: Forbes Magazine online

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He hates hearing: We’re all out of coffee. Contact, phone 919-619-2441.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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