10 Things you should never Say at Work

While everyone knows that you should not say certain things at work, or to your boss, I have overheard all of the following things, which should never be said at work, being said at work by paralegals and other legal staff. Legal professionals are supposed to have excellent communication skills, knowing how to use words and language that are clear and concise. Therefore, saying any of the following things at work can make you appear unprofessional, unmotivated, and as if you have a poor attitude.

never Say at Work

10 Things you should never Say at Work

1. That’s not my job. No matter how long or detailed it is, no job description is 100% complete, and there will always be something that needs done, that you have never done before, or that it is not generally your job to do. If your boss or a co-worker asks you to do something, even if it not your job, just do it. No one wants to work with someone who cannot take the added responsibility of one more task, and certainly, no one wants that person working for them. Besides, whatever your boss asks you to do is your job. Instead of thinking, that’s not my job, think, I am always open to learning something new. Your employer will appreciate that you can handle anything that comes along; even it is not your job to handle it.

2. I don’t know. While it is okay to not know something, when you are asked you a question that you do not know the answer to, you should not say, “I don’t know”, but instead, “I will find out”. You should then go and find out. Employers like proactive employees who can find the answer, not ones who say they do not know, and forget about it, or that have to be told to go find out when asked a question they do not already know the answer to. Remember, your boss is asking you a question because he or she needs the answer to it, not because they wish to quiz you or test your knowledge in any way. You do not need to know everything, but as a paralegal, you should be willing and able to find out.

3. I don’t know how. If you are asked to do something at work that you do not know how to do, ask someone to show you, find an instructional video online, call a friend, or figure it out some other way, but never say, “I don’t know how”. Your boss is not interested in what you do not know how to do, only in you doing whatever he or she asks you to do. It is okay to need to be taught to do something or to have to figure it out; it is not okay to shirk the responsibility of doing something your boss needs done by saying, “I don’t know how.”

4. That’s not how I’ve always done it. It does not matter to your employer how you have always done something or how you did it somewhere else; how your current boss wants you to do it today is all that matters. If you have a better way of doing something, by all means, speak up, but when being shown how to do something, do not comment about how you have done it in the past or when you worked for someone else.

5. It’s not my problem. If there is a problem at work, it is your problem. As a paralegal, your job is to do everything the attorney does not have time to do, or that would be fiscally irresponsible for the attorney do to him or herself. This includes taking responsibility for any problems that arise. Remember, if it is a problem for your boss, or could cause him or her problems, it is your problem. Instead of viewing problems as someone else’s, think about how they might impact the firm as a whole, and then take on the responsibility of solving the firm’s problems, in order to ensure that they do not become your problem.

6. I don’t know why he/she hasn’t called you back. Telling a client, court personnel, or opposing counsel that you gave the attorney their message and do not know why he or she has not returned their call is unprofessional and tantamount to throwing your boss under the bus. Even if the attorney should have returned a call months ago, never say that you do not know why they have not. The best thing to say to a caller, who has left a message and is following up, is that you are sure that your boss received the previous message and will get with them as soon as he or she is able. You may also want to ensure them that you will let your boss know they called to follow up on the message.

7. I’m too busy. The work in a law office or legal department has to get done, whether you are busy or not. “Let me see where I can work that into my schedule” is a much better response than “I’m too busy”. It conveys the fact that you are very busy, so that your boss will know that you are hard at work, while not sounding as if you are refusing to do the additional work he or she wants you to do.

8. I’ll try. Never say that you will ‘try’ to do anything. If you are unsure if you can complete a task, let your boss know that you have some concerns about it, but that you will do your best, and ask questions as you go, if needed. Saying you will ‘try’ sounds as if you are already looking for an excuse to not complete the task. Imagine if your boss told you that he or she would ‘try’ to pay you next week. You may not want to come into work if your boss only going to ‘try’ to pay you.

9. I can’t. There is nothing that a good paralegal cannot do; there are only things that he or she has never done before, may need help doing, or may not do well. Never say that you can’t do something you are asked to do. If you need to look online or call someone to figure out how, do it. If you need help with the task, ask for it. If you are not sure how to get started, ask your boss or a co-worker for suggestions. Whatever you have to do to figure how to do everything your boss asks you to do, do it. An employee who is frequently unable to complete tasks is at risk for losing his or her job.

10. I don’t have anything to do. Even in a small law office with a laid-back atmosphere, there is always something to do. If you have completed all of the tasks in your inbox, ask your boss or a co-worker if there anything you can help them with, or consider cleaning out client files, organizing a filing cabinet, sending out invoices, running maintenance on your computer, or updating the firm’s forms and templates.  Whatever you do, do not tell your boss that you don’t have anything to do.

About Shelley Riseden

Shelley M. Riseden is a freelance paralegal providing research, document preparation, and writing services to both attorneys and non-attorneys. She is an expert at conducting legal research and has a natural ability to grasp complex legal issues.Phone: 765.667.5139, E-mail: smriseden@earthlink.net or shelley@virtuallylegal.net, Skype: shelley.riseden, Yahoo: Virtually_Legal

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