Published On: Mon, Jan 12th, 2015

5 Phrases to ban from your office immediately

Giles CadmanWords have power. That’s why I’ve banned these 5 self-defeating phrases from my office.


Imagine you’re in the midst of an important and exciting negotiation. The result of this negotiation could be a million dollar contract. The other party needs to see a document and you have 30 minutes to produce it. You call your partner and ask “can you have it here in 30?” and they say “hopefully…”

No! Not ‘hopefully.’ It’s either yes or no. Hopefully is weak and non-committal. Yes or no is something I can work with. If the answer is a no, okay. I might not like it, I may ask ‘why not?’, but at least I have a solid answer on which I can plan my next move. Hopefully is simply undependable.


Those who work for me know to never complain that something is too early or too late.

I chair almost 30 companies and employ many kinds of people and accommodate lots of different working styles. I have a number of employees who are definitely not morning people! Neither am I, quite honestly…so generally, I don’t mind if an employee decides to work from 10-6 or 11-7. But, there are times when the business needs us to be there at 7am or 8pm. When that happens, I’m there, and I expect the same of my team.

If a client asks for an 8am meeting, we never say ‘that’s too early.’ We say “Of course, 8am is perfect. We’ll see you then.”


This phrase makes me see red.

There are times when it’s all hands on deck. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your job description or not.

If the company needs every employee from the executive VP to the accounts payable clerk to work the phones, then they’ve got to work the phones. It’s not about whether or not it’s your job, it’s about whether or not you value your paycheque and whether or not you value your team.

I may be chairman of the board, but there are times when I end up making the coffee or faxing the documents. If it’s 9pm at night, my assistant has gone home, and the client needs the contract now, I do it. I built these companies from scratch and I’m not above doing what it takes to keep them running. If I hire an employee who feels that THEY are above performing those tasks… well, you can imagine the rest.


The word yes empowers success and innovation, but when overused, it can be detrimental. A team member, who says yes too much, either has no courage, no brain, or just doesn’t care.

Let’s take the opposite approach:

There are times when the answer is ‘no’. But saying no takes courage. When an employee tells me ‘no’, I ask why. If the answer makes sense, I respect it. I accept it. And most importantly, I trust that employee because I know they’re honest, and I know they’re putting the good of the company ahead of pleasing me personally.

As a leader, I need to know I’m surrounded by good people who aren’t afraid to push back when something is not good for the company. Every soldier has a blind spot; the question is, when that blind spot rears its head, will your team cover you or wash their hands of you?

What phrases have you banned from the workplace?

Originally published on

Click Tag(s) for Related Articles: