4 Very Common Words That'll Give Your Co-workers a Heart Attack

You pride yourself on having good communication skills. You keep your co-workers looped in and apprised of what’s going on at all times. 

But did you know that a few (very common!) words could actually be causing your beloved colleagues to freak out? It’s true: Certain terms that you might use regularly make people think fire drill, resulting in an almost visceral response. 

Read on for the four words that actually scare your colleagues (and what to say instead).

1. Except

Before you think I’m writing this from atop a perfect word usage pedestal, let me start with one I recently used. I was messaging my manager about an upcoming project and I wrote, “It looks great, except…” To which her immediate response was to suggest I write an article on “five words that send chills down your spine.” 

Except is a word that says you would’ve gotten the job or the influential person would have funded your idea—but there was just one little thing that made that not happen. It’s the shorthand for, “so close, and yet, so screwed.” Whenever someone starts a sentence with a victory, and then drops the except bomb, you instantly start preparing for disaster.

So, save your co-workers that emotional rollercoaster. Rather than structuring your update as “good news—except…” lead with what needs to be fixed so there aren’t any surprises. For example, instead of: “The report looks good, except for points three through five,” you’d say, “The report would be stronger if we reworked points three through five (more on that below), but otherwise it looks great!”

Check out the rest of the article (and the other three words) on The Muse.