IT Best Practices

7 Dirty IT Words: Don’t Say These in the C-Suite

When you’re in the big leagues (working at the C-Suite level), what you say on a daily basis definitely matters. As a matter of fact, you might want to cut back on all the profanity you’ve been using lately. Yes, you! According to Kevin Casey in an article for InformationWeek, those subtle but offensive words (sometimes phrases) will get you into more trouble than you know (and we don’t mean the four letter kind). Below are the seven offenders.

#1 – I don’t know.
Maybe you’re just trying to be honest, but sometimes your C-level peers “can’t handle the truth.” Instead of “I don’t know,” try, “Let me look into that and get back to you ASAP.”

#2 – Duh
This word isn’t always spoken. Sometimes it’s conveyed by way of a facial expression or an exasperated sigh. But no matter how it comes across, if you’re condescendingly expressing “Duh,” watch out for repercussions!

#3 – I’m just the…
Don’t pigeon hole your reputation! Any variant of “I’m just the [insert role],” will sounds like an excuse, the verbal equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and humming “la la la la” when a superior asks a challenging question.

#4 – The business…
There’s a major sea change underway, such that, if you have to refer to “the business” as a separate entity, you’re sooo missing the point. IT is the business and the business is IT. Get with it already!

#5 – Sure!
ABQ: always be qualifying – your affirmative statements. In other words, “Sure” and its close cousin “Yes” are only dirty words in isolation. Use them in the context of “if” and “as long as” to avoid being someone’s doormat.

#6 – Can’t
Like the phrase “I don’t know,” “can’t” is equally repugnant to the ears of senior execs even if spoken sincerely. Introduce an explanation along with your refusal to make it clear why the request is a bad idea.

#7 – Never
You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Never say never.” Well, how about “Never speak in absolute terms!” This applies to any C-level interaction. Business is change. To speak otherwise is blasphemy.

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