8 Things That You Should Never Say In A Business Meeting

(CREDIT: Phil Sexton)


If you’re like me, you have been involved in your fair share of business meetings. The nature of business meetings is typically that of a serious nature, so it’s important that you keep a professional manner, and avoid saying anything that you might regret. In my experience, I’ve seen colleagues’ first-hand say certain things that probably would have been better kept to themselves, but didn’t end up being the case.

By saying something that might be of a controversial nature in a professional environment, specifically a business meeting, it can often create tension and set an awkward tone in the room. I’ve seen it, and perhaps you have as well. Either way, here are eight things that you should always avoid saying in a business meeting.


  1. “That’s not my job” – In any job, especially in a professional environment, certain tasks will sometimes arise that won’t always fit in with your daily routine. On that note, some of these tasks that will be handed to you won’t be ideal, but that’s the nature of the professional world. Avoid saying phrases like “that’s not my job” because it will give off the impression that you lack drive and responsibility. It’s important to take on the challenge and be a team player, because good things come to those that work hard.
  2. “I think …” – Confidence is essential, especially in business. By using words like ‘think’ and ‘might’ in your statements, you can give off the appearance of being unconfident and unsure about what is being discussed. Show that you’re a confident, strong individual, by changing words like ‘think’ and ‘might’ to phrases including ‘I believe’ or ‘I know that.’
  3. Avoid the word ‘can’t’ – Don’t ever use the word ‘can’t,’ because as the old saying goes, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” By stating that you or your team can’t do something, the confidence issue arises once again. With that said, saying that you can’t do something can be one of the most dangerous things that you can say in front of your peers, especially those that are in charge.
  4. “I’ll keep it short” – Let’s be honest, who are we kidding with this? Whenever someone says this, it’s more often than not anything but short. It’s important that you never use this phrase, because it may get the hopes of your peers up. In business, everyone always has something on their plate, and everyone has work to do, so avoid saying this, just in the event that it’s a promise that you can’t keep.
  5. Don’t talk about how busy you are – Again, we’re all busy. Everyone is busy. By discussing how busy you are, it can at times come off as egotistical to your peers, and can also come off as complaining, in a sense. You don’t want to be the employee that gives off the impression that there is too much work on your plate, and that you can’t handle it mentally.
  6. “Can you repeat that?” This is one phrase that should be avoided at all costs. While one may say this because they’re taking down notes, and missed something, don’t mention it, as it can give off the impression that you weren’t giving your full, undivided attention to whoever it is that’s speaking. Instead, speak with other colleagues after the meeting to compare notes, and fill in the proverbial holes on anything that you may have missed.
  7. “I’m tired” – This one may seem a bit obvious, and it is, but over the years throughout my career, I’ve heard this one much more than I would have liked. It’s fine to make small talk before or after a meeting, but keep it general and cliché, like discussing the weather. Even if you are tired, keep that to yourself. If you bring that up before the meeting, it sounds unprofessional, and that you’re unprepared. On the other side, if this is brought up at the end of the meeting, it’s arguably even more unprofessional, because it then it can appear that you found the meeting to be boring.
  8. “I did this with my last employer” – While this one is paraphrased a bit, and could be said in many different ways, it’s one that must be avoided in a business meeting. If a project is being discussed internally at your place of employment in a meeting, avoid comparing the task at hand to things that you’ve done in the past for other companies. Focus on the task at hand now, in the present. The past is exactly that – the past.

While there are certainly more things that you should never say in a business meeting, these are perhaps the most vital. Have you ever said something in a professional situation like this that you later regretted, or have you seen someone create an awkward situation based off of something that they said?

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