3 Phrases That Make You Sound Inexperienced at Work

3 Phrases That Make You Sound Inexperienced at Work

Young people entering the workforce are often told to “fake it ‘til you make it,” and act like they know what they’re talking about, even when they don’t. While that’s not always the best advice, it’s also not a great idea to veer too far in the other direction, and make it clear that you’re just starting out. To avoid sounding inexperienced at work, you may want to ditch these common phrases.

Avoid these phrases that make you sound inexperience at work

A previous Lifehacker post focused on how to avoid sounding immature at work: Things like relying on filler words, and referring to women as “girls,” or any colleagues as “dude,” “bro,” or “man.” But it’s entirely possible to sound perfectly mature, and still unintentionally draw attention to the fact that you may be new to the office, or the profession in general.

According to Adrian Granzella Larssen, the founding editor-in-chief of The Muse, avoid using these phrases at work if you want to sound more established:

“Hi, I’m [first name].”

This is fine at happy hour, but introducing yourself only by your first name doesn’t let the person you’re speaking with know anything else about you, and why you belong.

Instead, Granzella Larssen suggests introducing yourself with your first and last name, and why you’re involved in the meeting or on a project—something like, “Hi, I’m Jane Doe, and I’m on the business development team.”

“I am the [junior-level job title].”

In the previous example, you may have wondered why Granzella Larssen didn’t suggest introducing yourself with your specific job title, rather than your team or department. The reason for this is that as someone starting out in your career, your job title may not exactly be impressive, and may draw attention to your lack of experience.

If this is the case, keep it general. Instead of introducing yourself as “the editorial assistant,” go with something like “I’m a member of the editorial team.”

“I have to ask my boss.”

Regardless of where you rank in the workplace, there are going to be decisions that you can’t make unilaterally. Although that’s completely normal and expected, you don’t need to draw attention to it.

Instead, Granzella Larssen recommends making yourself sound like “a thoughtful collaborator” rather than someone’s subordinate. For example, you could say something like: “This plan sounds wonderful—let me run it by my team before moving ahead.”

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