Boss Lady

11 phrases that can ruin your reputation at work


There are a lot of ways to ruin a reputation at work. Bad behavior. Poor decision-making. But perhaps the most common thing to occur in the work place are the things/phrases you say that can make those around you look at you poorly—thus ruining your reputation.

But, it’s not just the things you say. It’s also any negative responses—verbal or physical—you have to things other people say.

There are, fortunately, things you can say that aren’t negative and that won’t ruin your reputation in the workplace and in the eyes of your colleagues and boss.

“That’s Not my Job”

Saying “that’s not my job” can ruin your reputation by making those around you think you’re lazy and unhelpful. While it may not be your job or job description more broadly, there’s no law saying you can’t help someone or take some load off the team.

So, instead, try something along the lines of “I’d be happy to help out with that”. This way your reputation won’t be ruined and instead, people will think you’re a pretty decent person.

“I don’t get paid to do this”/“This is not my problem”

Ok, like the first tip, just because you don’t get paid to do something or that it’s not part of your job/job description, doesn’t mean you can’t do it, help or somehow make it your problem.

Saying this can ruin your reputation by suggesting that you avoid responsibility and that you’re not willing to help, which can cause your colleagues to not ask you for help and your boss not rewarding you for good work or assigning you to projects.

Instead, try making things your problem and taking up more responsibilities at work. This will go down well at work and in the eyes of your colleagues and boss.

“He’s Such a Jerk/Tool/Tyrant”

This can ruin your reputation by making people think you’re quick to judge others on a moment when they may just be in a bad mood or having a bad day. Furthermore, if you do this regularly, people will also start thinking that you enjoy criticising others and it will also make you seem like the jerk, tool or tyrant. They will also wonder what you call them behind their backs.


Now, I know what you’re thinking. Grimacing isn’t a phrase. And you’re right. It’s not. But it can still say a lot about you and your attitude towards your work/job that can ruin your reputation.

Grimacing or making any facial/physical expression that suggests you’re annoyed or have any negative feelings towards your job, work or colleagues, can ruin your reputation by making those around you think that you’re an unpleasant person or an unhappy worker.

So, think about what your facial/physical expressions are saying about you—especially when you aren’t speaking to anyone.

“I’ll Be Late”

Everybody is late sometimes. But if you are seen to be habitually late for work or meetings, it can ruin your reputation because it will show your colleagues and boss that you lack respect for them, your job and the hours you’re supposed to work.

It can also ruin your reputation by suggesting that you aren’t organized, can’t keep to a schedule and that you have some late night interests/activities that you think are more important than arriving early or on time for work.

So instead of saying this or having a slack attitude to arriving at work on time, it might help if you either discover or re-discover what you enjoy about your job, keep that in mind and be respectful to those around you and their time/schedules.

“I Tried That Once and it Didn’t Work”

This can suggest that you’re not open to trying things more than once or to trying new things/ways of doing things at all. Saying and doing this can ruin your reputation through you displaying a stubbornness and unwillingness to try new things simply because they didn’t work for you in the past — or that you’re scared of change (which would be fatal to your career prospects in today’s market).

Furthermore, those around you may also think that you’re unwilling to move forward in your career and learn new skills.

So instead of appearing to be stuck in a rut, set in old ways of doing things and closed off to trying things again, try to remember that change and new things can be good and that, just because something didn’t work before, doesn’t mean it won’t work the second time round.

“I don’t like this job/company”

Sure, this may come after being in that job for many years, and perhaps even months. But, if you are genuinely unhappy with your job/company you work for, what’s stopping you from leaving?

Furthermore, staying and displaying your unhappiness will only ruin your reputation by making those around you see your resentment and general disdain for the job/company. It can also make them avoid you and can prevent you from progressing in your career, regardless of whether you stay or leave.

Instead, look for the positives and simply say you like those aspects instead of any negative things.

“I don’t like my boss”

Sometimes, you don’t have to like your boss. But you do have to respect them as the boss and listen to the things they say and do the things they ask you to do. Not doing this will only suggest that hyou don’t give proper respect to people in higher job positions than you.

Instead, it may be a better idea not to say anything at all and remember the old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.

“It is not my fault”

No, of course it’s not your fault. It never is. That’s why you were in charge of that thing or standing over there when the other thing went off and that’s why you’re also covered in the evidence that proves it was in fact your fault.

Saying this, among other things, can only ruin your reputation because people will think that you are not good at taking responsibility for the things you have done or for problems when they arise.

But, there is also “plausible deniability”. This is where, for example, you are a team leader and delegate a task to another team member, who then uses questionable methods without you knowing what they are. In this case, you could claim that you had no idea those methods would be used. However, this might call into question your own management skills.

In this instance, and perhaps only this instance, you could get away without taking full responsibility for what happened. Generally speaking however, it would also be far better for you to admit your faults and where you may have gone wrong, instead of always using the “plausible deniability” defense.

“I can’t…”

Saying things like “I can’t…”, “I shouldn’t…” or “I won’t…” suggests you’re not a confident or motivated person/worker. It can also suggest that you have a lot of doubts about yourself and your abilities to perform your job well.

This can ruin your reputation because, while you may have gaps in your knowledge or skill set, it is within your capabilities to learn new skills and information so that you don’t have gaps in your knowledge or skill set.

This way, instead, you’ll be able to say things like “I can/should or will” – enhancing your reputation instread of ruining it.

About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

What Do You Think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *