These 10 Words and Phrases Are Keeping You From Getting a Raise

Nobody seems to have told 2014 that the recession ended five years ago.

Not only are college graduates having a hard time getting jobs, but current employees are having a hard time getting raises. This means that now more than ever, you should take every interaction with your supervisor or boss as an opportunity to leave a positive impression.

And while we can't necessarily tell you how to solve your companies' specific challenges or exceed your role's specific expectations, we can tell you that speaking eloquently and with confidence is a great way to stand from the crowd. (See also: 12 Ways to Finally Get That Promotion This Year)

With that in mind, here are 10 words and phrases that you should drop from your vocabulary to increase your chances of getting a raise.

1. "Oh…"

If the first word coming out of your mind is "oh" every time that your boss asks you a question, she may get the impression that you have no idea of what's going in your projects. Being caught by surprise every now and then is not a corporate sin, but you shouldn't give the impression that your mind is wandering instead of focusing in your tasks.

Stop looking like a deer caught in headlights and ask relevant, meaningful questions that allow you to gather more information.

2. "Everything"

  • What caused the delay in the project?
  • What can I do to help you improve your performance?
  • What are the benefits to our company from your job?
  • What would you have done differently?

If you answer "everything" to the four questions above, your supervisor is likely to facepalm. While it may be true that every single possible thing went wrong with your project, he is asking you to shine some light into the specifics.

From that "everything," cite up to three specific reasons and elaborate on them. Your supervisor will thank you and believe that you know your stuff.

3. "Not My Job"

Words to die by. If you are a fan of the Spiderman comics or movies, then you know that this mentality contributed to the eventual death of Peter Parker's Uncle Ben. (See also: The Surprisingly Frugal Lifestyles of 12 Famous Superheroes)

You cannot refuse to lend a hand to your coworkers all the time. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine if every single person in the office did that to you — how would you feel?

Listen to your coworker's request and determine who is the right person to help. Remember what goes around, comes around. Set a positive expectation for when you are the one asking for help.

4. "Honestly"

Does this mean that unless you're saying "honestly" people are to assume that you're not being honest?

Most people tell white lies or misrepresent facts. Researches have found that men tell six lies a day on average to their partner, boss and work colleagues, while women tell an average of three. However, this doesn't mean that you should create special truth periods through "honestly." Additionally, if you say "honestly" out loud, it sounds as if you're venting frustration rather than infusing confidence in your statements.

5. "I'll Try"

Does this mean that you will do it or not? There is a big difference in either answer, so you need to be more specific than that.

For example, imagine that you want to get a raise. The "I'll try" answer doesn't provide you any specifics. You don't have a target date, a list of action items, or a target salary to reach. If you want a raise, you have to go for it, not just try. From those who ask for a raise, 85% at least get something and 63% get at least as much as they asked for.

So say yes or no, and fully commit to a course of action.

6. "It's Just Business"

It's never just business. The 80/20 rule explains why.

This ratio reminds us that 80% of your revenue, comes from 20% of your client base. That 20% is a combination of legacy clients, satisfied clients, and "afraid of change" clients. You know most of those clients by name and are comfortable enough to have a relaxed, casual chit-chat with them during conference calls. These clients are sticking with your company because of a good relationship. It's just not business.

By coldly claiming "it's just business," you are burning bridges and closing doors to potential business opportunities. And you're also potentially closing a door on your own raise if your supervisor catches wind.

7. "Just Kidding"

Every office needs a bit of good humor. No office needs passive-aggressiveness. And the end-all phrase of passive-aggressiveness is "just kidding." As in:

  • "Kelly is such a slacker. Just kidding!"
  • "Because Matt aaaaalways shows up on time, right? Just kidding!"
  • "I didn't mean that, you know I was just kidding, don't you?"

Sugar coating insults or negative comments leads to resentment. There is a time and a place for jokes. Make sure that you learn the appropriate situations for serious and light comments at your company. Making enemies means losing respect, means having a tougher time justifying why you deserve more responsibility and compensation than you're already getting.

8. "Let Me Finish This First"

Every time that you hear this phrase, three things often come to mind:

  • This person can only work on one thing at a time.
  • This person is very rigid and not willing to adapt.
  • This person is not willing to listen to me.

While multitasking can do more harm than good, it is also true that our brains can handle five to nine things at once. When asked to pay attention to something that may be more urgent, you need to answer that call. Being a team player provides you ammunition for the next time that your supervisor is doing performance reviews or that you ask for a raise.

9. "But…"

This one word has the power to undo everything positive you listed earlier. As in:

  • "Your design is outstanding, but…"
  • "Yes, you show up to work early, however…"
  • "I love the latest logo revision, but…"

People don't hear enough compliments throughout the day. Researchers say that you should give between three to ten positive comments for each negative one you dish out. So the next time you provide a compliment, simply say it, and let it marinade on the other person. Especially when closing a meeting or ending a call, you want to end on a high note that resonates for a couple moments.

10. "I'm No Expert…"

Then you shouldn't be saying anything!

  • Would you ask a non-expert in medicine about how to treat a disease
  • Would you care that somebody without legal expertise reviews your will?
  • Would you trust your retirement account to a person without expertise in financial matters?

No, you wouldn't.

When you don't have the expertise, let the experts talk. And when you do hold the necessary credentials, don't undermine them and just state your case. You will sound more assertive and look more professional.

And so will your new compensation package.

What other words and phrases need to disappear from our professional vocabulary? Please share in comments!

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