Career

4 Phrases To Use At Work That Don’t Sound Like Excuses

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Joanne Poh

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Dealing with everyone at the office pining for your attention takes up the bulk of your waking life, and with the little time you have left, you try valiantly to get some actual work done, take the MRT home and make sure your body gets a minimum of the food and water it needs to stay alive.

With all of that going on in your life, at some point you’re bound to screw up.

Maybe you’ll miss a deadline, maybe you’ll produce a less than stellar piece of work, or maybe (gasp) a client will complain about you. Yes, even if you’re Mr or Ms Perfect at work. And when the time comes, here’s what you can tell your boss so he doesn’t blow his top.

 

I’ll need more time for this so I can do an even better job

Those Japanese drama serials might show employees doing a deep 90 degree bow and begging for their boss’s forgiveness at the slightest infraction, but don’t try that trick here.

Instead, frame your little delay in a positive manner by telling your boss you need more time—and then showing why giving you more time will enable you to do a better job.

For instance, if you’re late with a report to be sent to a client, tell your boss you’ll need another 24 hours to get it done so you can add in key figures that will give the report more weight.

Tell your boss exactly how much more time you need so he doesn’t get antsy, but more importantly, make it sound like the reason you want more time so you can do an even better job.

 

Help me work better with you

Most of us aren’t exactly trying to find a cure for cancer at work, but sometimes it can feel like it thanks to difficult colleagues who delight in passing cancerous remarks.

When dealing with difficult colleagues, don’t try to beat them at their own game by politicking or bootlicking. Instead, address them directly and ask how they can help you work better with them. By asking for their input, you’re forcing them to talk about the crap they give you.

At the same time, you are also sneakily highlighting the fact that they’re the ones who’re making your life miserable at work.

 

We need to get to the root of this problem

So your team has been working tirelessly on this project for weeks, and unfortunately it’s been a spectacular flop. When sh*t happens, it’s all too easy to start pointing fingers and shoving other people’s heads onto the chopping block.

Concentrating on getting to the root of the problem helps everyone to focus on what needs to be done to fix things, rather than who’s fault it was.

 

Can we find a time to discuss my career progression?

In a 2015 survey, 30% of the people polled said they were planning to resign that year, with 40% citing lack of career progression as the key reason for their intended departure.

People don’t job hop for fun. They do it because the jobs they’ve encountered didn’t fulfil their needs.

Instead of vengefully quitting to show your boss you deserve better, make an appointment first and see if he’s willing to show an interest in your career.

Oftentimes, bosses are just too busy or distracted to really notice what’s up with their employees, and if you say nothing your boss will be perfectly happy to let you languish in the same role forever.

It’s a good idea to have this conversation if you’ve been feeling bummed out or unmotivated at work. By speaking with your boss about what your problems at work really are, he or she will know that you’ve not just grown lazy.

Have you ever had to have a hard conversation at work? Share your stories in the comments.

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.