Stop Saying These 25 Words (At The Workplace/Wherever)

Tomorrow is Workers’ Day. It is with this in mind that I share this post on communications skills you need in the workplace. And Elsewhere.
For thousands of years, our most powerful tools to change the world and our surroundings have been our words. That’s still true today.

From the lines you hear on TV, the commentary you hear through podcasts to the social media posts you read on a daily basis, our words guide us through everything. It’s why political campaigns spend so much time on messaging, why companies spend so much time on advertising and why I work as an editor. Because words are powerful, they shape how we see the world.

Knowing this, it’s important we select strong words that help us move forward with our goals, but most of us sabotage ourselves with our word choices. Whether you’re unconsciously belittling yourself, your time or your colleagues, there are simple changes you can make that will help you communicate better.

1. Actually. Don’t be the person who has to correct everyone in the office. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, and in your job you will sometimes have to clean up other people’s messes. But when you do correct someone, do it with grace — don’t rub it in their face with a “well, actually …”

2. But. One problem with the word “but” is that it makes the formulation of your sentences so obvious — and it has a tendency to make people forget about everything you said before it. For example, when you say, “I like how you did this, but …” people are just waiting to hear what you didn’t like, rather than dwelling on what you did like. By connecting those thoughts with the word “and” — or just by making them separate thoughts — you can make sure people will hear both parts of what you’re saying.

3. Assume. A key to company culture is feeling respected, heard and seen. If you say you’re assuming something, you’re really just admitting that you didn’t spend even five seconds listening to someone else. This one is such an easy win, and not only are your co-workers going to appreciate that you listen to them, but you’ll probably end up learning some things.

4. Disrupt. The word has been used so many times by startups and tech firms that it has lost all its meaning. At this point, everyone is a disruptor, which means that no one is really a disruptor.

5. Dude. Just leave this one behind when you graduate college. Saying “dude” in the workplace will either make you sound younger and more immature than you are — or do the opposite, and make you seem out of place and in denial, sort of like Steve Buscemi trying to play a kid in 30 Rock. If you don’t know everyone’s name in your office, try to learn them. People like to feel seen, and remembering names is a part of that.

6. Fault. If you’re talking about whose fault something was, you’re losing — your co-workers usually don’t care whose fault something was, they just want it to work. So, if you messed up, figure out how you can solve the problem. If someone else made an error, don’t throw them under the bus — odds are you’re going to have to keep working with them.

7. Fine. “Fine” is one of those words that just seems to come with a sigh attached. Again, it’s about breathing positivity and productivity into your space, not allowing yourself to become negative just because it’s easy.

8. F#$K. Some offices might feature a more cavalier attitude about swearing, but you should at the very least make sure you know how your co-workers will react to four-letter words before you let one fly. Even then, we often use swear words as a catch-all when we could be trying to express ourselves more clearly.

9. Guys. I’m guilty of this one, but there are a couple of easy reasons why we should all stop using “guys.” Firstly, because it’s often wrong — turns out, women and non-binary people work in offices, too! Secondly, it’s overly informal. Lastly, it’s easily replaceable: We can just say “everyone” and make everyone happy.

11. It. This one might surprise people, but often, we rely too much on pronouns which can muddle our meanings. For example, you’ve probably read emails that say something like, “I asked Sarah and Jane to work on that, but I guess she already did it.” Then, you have to spend the next five minutes scrolling through previous emails to figure out who “she” is and what “it” is. When in doubt, always be clear.

12. Just. “Just” is one of those words that is meant to minimize what you’re saying. For example, if you’re “just wondering” or telling someone it will “just take you a minute.” There’s no need to minimize things: Your needs are important, just like other people’s time is important.

13. K. When you get a text that just says “K,” you know with absolute certainty that the person on the other end of the line is furious with you — or at least, a little miffed. So, when someone gives you a task at work and you simply reply “K,” you’re sending negative vibes. More than that, you’re sending unproductive, negative vibes. “K” doesn’t help solve anything.

14. Kinda. “Kinda” doesn’t really mean anything, and only ever serves to weaken your point. If you only “kinda” did something, or “kinda” thought something, it also by definition means you “kinda” didn’t. Most employers appreciate decisiveness — it can help cultivate confidence in you among your co-workers.

15. Like. We all use filler words. Some people say “um,” other people “like,” but whichever is your vice, train yourself out of these words so you can speak more concisely. People will appreciate it.


17. Need. When you’re negotiating for something you want, don’t tell people you need it. Instead, prove why the other party would be better off giving it to you. For example, if you want a raise, point to your accomplishments and not your rent cost.

18. Nope. It’s OK to say “no” to things, but there’s no point in being dismissive or overly casual about it. It might even be satisfying to say, but keep in mind that no one wants to hear the word “nope” — especially when they’re asking for help.

19. Personally. There’s a reason people always say “It’s not personal” when talking about business. As long as you work for a larger organization, your personal opinion on a matter isn’t as important as your expertise. When you speak, you want people to know you only ever have everyone’s best interest at heart.

20. Ping. People don’t want to be pinged. If you’re pinging someone, it typically means you’re asking him or her to do something for you immediately, which is already inconvenient. Add on that “ping” is just an annoying word, and you have an irritating combination. Just tell someone you’ll email him or her, or else send the information.

21. Sex. Your co-workers don’t want to hear about what you did last weekend. They certainly don’t want to hear you talk about how they look sexy today. While you’re at work, it’s just best to stay professional.

23. Try. A small, green puppet once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda lived by those words, and so should you. If you know you don’t have time for something, it’s OK to say “no” — in fact, it can be a good thing. But saying you’ll try is saying that even you aren’t sure you’re willing to achieve a task.

24. Unfair. We all know that life isn’t fair, and typically, the only reason we (or at least I) use the word “unfair” is to complain about something. But complaining rarely helps you achieve your goals, so it’s more productive to either accept it or explain clearly why you deserve better.

25. Whatever. Nobody wants to hear “whatever” on its own — it makes you sound churlish and confrontational. But even if you’re trying to be accommodating (i.e., “whatever works for you”), “whatever” can backfire. Odds are that you have a preference, and it’s OK to value your own time.

I stole this from The things I do for you.


Family, Love, Marriage and Other Ramblings

I am traveling home for Easter. I need to see my mom and father and kin and kith. I had planned to go during Mothering Sunday but I was going to take a girl out-to watch Rangers versus Enyimba. You didn’t go to see your mother because of a girl? Wow, terrible! Yes, carry a gun and shoot me. I called my mother and explained that I was tied up and wouldn’t make it. She was fine with it and said till Easter. So you can cry more than the celebrant, from now to August Meeting, if you like, it doesn’t move me. Your eyes, your tears. Is it not my mother who has been making noises about marriage—well, I was taking my future iyawo out.

Future Iyawo indeed. The girl is beautiful, soft-spoken, smart and a terrific cook. But she doesn’t entirely trust me, she kept saying that a part of her felt I would end up hurting her. I can never hurt a fly, I would say and you are my dove. If I can’t hurt a fly why should I hurt a full dove?

So it came to pass on a certain day, I appeared on bae’s door unannounced.

“Who is at the door?” she said in response to my knock.

“Your landlord,” I replied.

“Go away landlord, I don’t owe you.”

Hehehe. I opened the curtain. She was seated in the middle of the room. There was a yellow chap seated on the chair behind her. I lost one “he” in my “hehehe”.

“But you didn’t say you will come now,” my sweetheart told me. What a way to welcome your man after a hard day in the office.


“I was passing by and decided to drop in.”

“Should I bring a chair for you?”

Outside? Ahh! “Not necessary,” I said.

Awkward silence.

“How was work?” she asked.


Another silence. Awkward.

I went home, walking like a deflated tyre that the owner forced on the road. She didn’t even see me off. I don’t blame her. The fire in my eyes would light an oven. I was the one who was going to hurt her, remember? She must have watched so many Who Wants to be Millionaire episodes? Fastest fingers first.

Bae has been calling since then but chere, kam je village first. The yellow guy could be her cousin, her pastor or “just a friend”. Perhaps. For now, I am occupied. I don’t like the way my supervisor at work looks at me and I can’t remember my aunt’s blouse size. When I returned to Enugu I would have her time. I could go to her house with my sword, and shout Yellow, Yellow, like Brad Pitt called Hector out. When he comes out, I would say now you know who you are fighting.

I am going home. If my people know how I feel now they would suspend all silly talks about marriage till farther notice. What is a marriage? But look at this thing o. Like play, like joke, I would go and marry and become a responsible father for the rest of my life. One last excitement, please. I would turn my hair to dreadlocks, pierce my ear and draw a tattoo on my shoulder then I would wear a sleeveless shirt and fubu three-quarters and go and sit down in bush bar, order point and kill and hum at the beats.

Talking about marriage, Linda Ikeji is engaged and I am not the man. No, I am not crying; it is onions that entered my eyes. It doesn’t yet sound real to me. Before I know it, I would just go and fall in the lagoon. Better watch me. But there is no lagoon in this city, you will say. There will be o. The rate at which I am crying, I would cry her a lagoon and drown in it. It is not like I am crying over spilled Linda, it is the onions. I work in an onion juice factory. I am happy for Linda.

hidden stones

And the guy who stole Linda from me is somehow yellow (I am not sure about his yellowness but I already have one experience with a yellow guy, I now see yellow guys everywhere, even in my dream); that’s two yellow guys in one week. I am not doing again. I am going home to mama. To a place where no yellow man can reach.

My little brother is not coming home this Easter. They would make me kill the chicken. The last time I killed a chicken was in 2012. I was holidaying in Lagos, in my sister’s place. So the chicken was to be killed. I haven’t killed no chicken for a while, so I just went behind the house and cut the nigger’s throat. I went back to the sitting room where the Super Eagles were playing Liberia (I believe we won 6-1). While on this, my sister’s first or second son came to the room and said, “Uncle, the okuko have wake up.”

What! I ran out. Yes, the okuko has resurrected. It stood with bloodied throat watching me, daring me. I rushed to it and removed the head and took the head to the sitting room.

Sigh. I would be killing another okuko. The thing I do for family. I believe I would use a machete. One blow and the bitch will lose her head. A headless fowl cannot resurrect. Call me Jon Snow.

Easter is coming. It is coming sooner this year, why not? Now that APC has joined the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the negotiating with Judas Iscariot to betray the Lord Jesus Christ. At last, APC can count this as their achievement. Early in the week, someone, on Twitter, challenged Nigerians to name one project Buhari and APC initiated and completed in their three years in power. She was offering 20K for the answer. As of Wednesday, the amount has risen to 150k, no answer. You could have mentioned this Easter just that APC didn’t initiate it. It is there forefather Herod who began the whole denouement.

I need to go home. In fact, I need to start building my own house. When I get home, I would ask my father to give me a land where I can build. If I do nothing in the land, I would clear it, get a lorry of sand on it and have an engineer come check it out. Then I would run back to Enugu and tell everyone that I am building a house in the village. No one would know that I have only succeeded in denying a yellow man from growing cocoyam in the land.


I have to go now. I need to go and rest poor head. Too much things have happened to me in one week. The other day, on Facebook, someone sent me a message saying they have the power to give me lucky charm, promotion, money etc. On the head of the list was “make your ex come back to you”. Hehehe. Like this. X.

But come to think of it, they say Linda Ikeji’s fiancé was her ex-boyfriend. What an ex! A good ex. What really make a good ex? A good boyfriend goes on to make a good ex or a bad bae turns out a good ex? Which is it?

Me, all my exes belie definition. Recently, one called me to ask if I had bought a car. A cheap shot. The other time, I told one on her birthday that I would surprise her. I didn’t get her anything. That should surprise her. She surprised me first. Shebi na me and Nigerian girls, just leave us alone. The person who throws the other down, let them take their glory to the market square.

In another news, Lagos State was shut down yesterday because the president was coming to commission a bus stop. A bus stop! A holiday for a bus-stop. I am laughing. It is not funny. I am laughing my cry. A cryter. Well, let this not be the memory you of Holy Thursday. Let me tell you a story about Holy Thursday. You know Holy Thursday is the day Christians commemorate the Last Supper; Catholics take this a step further by having a leg-washing session.

So after playing football that year, we were ten or twelve, still dripping sweat, we went to the Cathedral to have our legs washed. Personally, I wanted only the bishop to touch my bony legs. A stout steward drove us away at the door. Just look at him. If it were in the Bible, someone would have said, “Let the dirty urchins come unto the Lord.” To say the truth, our legs were stinking dirty. I think even Jesus wouldn’t want to touch our legs without hand gloves.

Mehn, let me go and have a head-cut. Honestly, I am not happy with my barber. He is no longer the wise barber I used to call personal barber to the White House. But in defence of Tunde, I am angry with many people nowadays. I am angry with my landlord. My rent is due in weeks and the closer my rent, the angrier I get with my landlord. And I have resolved not to pay him the rent once. I will drag the rent and pay him in three installments. It is not as if I do not have the money. Although, I am building a house in the village but that is not the reason. My landlord is a wicked man. That is why.

Let me give you an instance. You will come home tired. You will drag your carcass to the bathroom and turn on the shower. And the shower isn’t running; urhahhh! You will call the landlord and he will tell you that one tall boy on the third floor brought a girl home so he decided to switch off the showers in order to reduce their enjoyment. “This place is not a whore house.”

What a terrisome person.

You know that the MMM founder nigger died on Monday. A few months ago I wrote a story “When the devil says yes”. Now, he is gone to be with the devil his ancestors. Call me prophet. Nigerians began to make it look like the guy stole their money. He didn’t biko. When you went to the bank it was Aliyu or Abulu or Ufuma that you paid, not the Nigger of Russia. Keep believing he took your money if that makes you happy and pretend his death has healed you.

Let me come and be going. This Easter is blessed. May the chicken submit their throats unto thee. If not, just remove the head, put it in your purse and go away. Let the fowl resurrect headless.

In case you have time in your hand, read my Easter Rice brouhaha story from 2014. It will crack you up real hard. One of the most read posts on my blog. You may also read my New Year resolutions. It is a shame that this great blog has been reduced to a monthly affair. It is well, at least I am still coming here from time to time to kill you, and when I do I give my all. Nearly 2000 words and I am going away only because my Uber driver is waiting. Haters will say it is Ubachukwu the keke rider. Pay them no heed. My Uber driver. I am outta here. Have a great Easter everyone.

Minus yellow men.