12 things emotionally intelligent people avoid saying at work

In the fast-paced professional world, getting ahead isn’t just about being book-smart. 

Emotional intelligence is pivotal for success, too. 

It helps people navigate social dynamics, manage emotions, and communicate effectively. 

But one often-underestimated aspect of emotional intelligence is knowing what not to say. 

In this article, we will explore 12 things that emotionally intelligent people avoid saying at work. Let’s go! 

1) “It’s not my problem.”

At the heart of emotional intelligence lies empathy — the ability to understand and share others’ feelings. Working together is crucial in the business world, and emotionally intelligent people know that. 

Rather than deflecting colleagues’ concerns with “It’s not my problem,“ they engage and offer their support.

In a busy workplace, losing sight of collective challenges is easy. But, emotionally intelligent professionals recognize that offering assistance, even beyond their designated responsibilities, strengthens team bonds. 

Now, let’s talk about something else you’ll never hear an emotionally intelligent person say at work: 

2) “I told you so.”

Uttering “I told you so“ comes across as condescending. Emotionally intelligent individuals provide guidance without seeking self-affirmation, so you’re unlikely to ever hear those words coming from their mouths.

While proving oneself right can be tempting, they prioritize others’ growth over personal satisfaction. 

When confronted with the opportunity to utter “I told you so,” they choose to help and support their colleague instead.

Speaking of supporting colleagues, let’s talk about constructive criticism.

3) “You’re wrong.”

Effective feedback is vital in the workplace. Without it, no one would ever learn new skills or get better at doing their jobs. 

People with high emotional intelligence know this and choose their words carefully. Instead of bluntly telling someone they’re wrong, they focus on delivering constructive criticism. 

Think about how you feel if someone says you’re wrong. 

Now, consider how it feels when someone explains why something isn’t right and how you can improve it. 

While feeling makes you want to try harder and do better? And which is more likely to trigger anger or sadness? 

Constructive criticism invites positive change and encourages growth, which is why that tactic aligns with emotional intelligence. 

And when there are mistakes to fix or challenges to overcome, someone who is emotionally intelligent will never say it’s impossible. 

4) “This is impossible.” 

Emotionally intelligent individuals avoid negative phrases like, “This is impossible.” 

Instead, they approach challenges with a solution-oriented mindset, nurturing an atmosphere of innovation and resilience.

When faced with daunting tasks, saying something is impossible builds barriers. 

Emotionally intelligent people choose to dismantle those barriers. 

They believe that every problem has a solution waiting to be discovered.

Sure, they may struggle or get frustrated just like anyone else. But they’ll never say it’s impossible. 

5) “You’re too sensitive.”

Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t just mean being mindful of your own emotions. It also means respecting and understanding others’ feelings.

Acknowledging colleagues’ emotions builds trust.

Dismissing them with “you’re too sensitive” belittles and invalidates their experiences. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals understand this. They appreciate diverse viewpoints and strive to foster an inclusive and supportive environment. 

Emotionally intelligent professionals recognize that words are incredibly powerful and can shape perceptions. By avoiding invalidating phrases, they show respect for their colleagues’ feelings.

They also respect others by never making them feel unimportant. 

6) “I don’t have time for this.”

Time is a precious commodity, but meaningful interactions are priceless. Instead of brushing off conversations, emotionally intelligent people communicate their availability while expressing genuine interest.

“I don’t have time for this” implies a lack of importance.

But emotionally intelligent professionals understand that investing time in conversations nurtures a rich workplace culture where connections flourish, and mutual understanding thrives.

Even if they aren’t available when someone approaches them to talk, they make it clear that they are interested and let the person know when a better time would be. 

And while they strive to build a positive, supportive workplace, even emotionally intelligent people are not immune to mistakes. 

The difference between them and people who lack this type of intelligence is that they own those mistakes. 

7) “It wasn’t my fault.”

12 things emotionally intelligent people avoid saying at work 1 12 things emotionally intelligent people avoid saying at work

Mistakes are part of growth. Emotionally intelligent individuals step up and avoid blame-shifting with phrases like, “It wasn’t my fault.” 

Instead, they own their mistakes and use them as learning experiences, which builds trust and shows accountability.

Now, let’s address gossip and rumors.

8) “Did you hear about…”

Gossip destroys trust and undermines morale. Emotionally intelligent people rise above gossip and engage in conversations that contribute positively to workplace culture.

Instead of whispering about who is dating who or what so-and-so did at the company picnic, they talk about business successes and other positive subjects. They also have intelligent conversations about complex topics, job techniques, etc. 

Emotionally intelligent people don’t entertain themselves with negativity or by sharing someone else’s misfortune. They choose their words carefully and only engage in uplifting conversations at work.

They also know that productive conversation isn’t just about saying the right things; it’s also about being an active listener.

10) “Can we wrap this up? I have things to do.” 

Active listening is a cornerstone of effective communication. 

Unfortunately, many people are so caught up in their own schedules and internal monologues that they rush others through what they’re saying.

Emotionally intelligent individuals, however, take the time to understand their colleagues’ viewpoints, asking questions for clarification and providing meaningful responses. 

In a world filled with distractions, active listening is a rarity. Emotionally intelligent professionals understand that giving undivided attention builds bonds and encourages collaboration.

And collaboration is a key pillar of emotional intelligence, as seen in my next point.

11) “That’s not my job.” 

Folks with high emotional intelligence go beyond their job descriptions, willingly extending a helping hand whenever possible. They avoid uttering “that’s not my job” and instead foster a collaborative work environment.

Phrases like “That’s not my job” create boundaries within teams. These boundaries inhibit teamwork, so you’re unlikely to hear those words from someone who is emotionally intelligent.

12) “I’m not interested in your opinion.”

A diverse workforce brings varying perspectives to the table. Emotionally intelligent individuals embrace this diversity and avoid phrases that dismiss others’ opinions.

Instead of telling someone they aren’t interested in their opinion, they engage in meaningful conversations that celebrate differing views and ideas.

You’re much more likely to hear them say something like, “Let’s explore different perspectives on this.” This simple change encourages collaboration and diversity.


Emotional intelligence transforms language into a tool for fostering a positive and cohesive work environment. 

By sidestepping phrases that undermine empathy, humility, and collaboration, emotionally intelligent people lay the groundwork for effective communication and strong professional relationships. 

In the intricate dance of modern workplaces, remember that our choice of words shapes our reality. 

By choosing them wisely, we cultivate emotional intelligence that propels us toward professional success and personal growth.

Samantha Howard

Samantha Howard

Samantha Howard is a freelance writer who has been crafting captivating content since 2006. Embracing the freedom of freelancing, she has explored countless subjects over the years, ranging from health and pet care to family, relationships, travel, and fashion. She views every project as an opportunity to learn, grow, and connect with diverse audiences. Samantha enjoys spending time in nature, reading, and crafting when she's not typing away at her keyboard. No matter what she’s doing, she almost always has a cup of coffee and at least one cat by her side.

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