Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


The ‘DO NOT SAY’ List

After discussing self-discounting language in a communications class, a participant suggested that I create a “DO NOT SAY” list. I thought it was a great idea. Having a list of phrases to avoid can help people steer clear of language that could have a negative impact on their careers, particularly if used frequently.

Listed below are my top eight suggestions for the “DO NOT SAY” list. Using these comments in business (and life) can diminish your stature in the eyes of others, minimize what you are saying, or tarnish your professional image.

--Can I ask a question? You don’t have to ask permission; just ask the question.

--I’m sorry to bother you. Why are you a bother? You can say, “Excuse me. Do you have a moment?”

--I was hoping that you could spare a few moments. Same as above. Simply say, “Excuse me. Do you have a moment?”

--Thank you for listening to me. At the end of a presentation, you should say, “Thank you.” This lets the audience know that the presentation is over. You don’t have to thank people for listening to you. Aren’t your comments and opinions worthwhile?

--Is it okay if I give my thoughts? Avoid asking this question. The other person is not in charge of the flow of the conversation. Discussions should go two ways.

--I will be honest with you. Aren’t you always honest? You don’t need to use this phrase.

--I was just wondering if perhaps. This phrase is a passive way of asking a question or backing into a statement. You can eliminate “I was just wondering if perhaps” and simply ask a question or make a statement. Instead of “I was just wondering if perhaps there will be enough computers for the project?” you can say, “Will there be enough computers for the project?”

--I may be wrong about this.... You don’t need to use this weak beginning to your sentences. It undermines the content of your statement.

Monitor your conversations. Are you using these comments? Additional tips on communication can be found in my new book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes (December 2016, McGraw-Hill).

(This blog updates a previous one from a number of years ago.)


  1. Good work. I will follow your guidelines and for sure, I will avoid these things in my writings and general conversations.

  2. You create very good “DO NOT SAY” list for self-discounting language. Being as a dissertation writer I think it was an absolutely best idea to ignore people steer clear of language and to create professional image. It is really helpful list for everyone such as teachers, writers, and learners who are looking for marketing dissertation help - from dissertation experts at Dissertation Help UK where we are providing unique, non-plagiarised, grammatical free quality dissertation help with best price. Thank you so much for writing a positive post.

  3. Being writer for a coursework writing service, this post will be much helpful for me to get a way to understand which things should be included in my Do Not Say List.

  4. I am very impressed by the way you have contributed to the online community. I’d appreciate such more valuable information and will keep visiting the site for new insights as I was just looking for


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