If You Find Yourself Saying This 4-Word Phrase, You Need to Have a Talk With Your Boss

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 22, 2024 at 11:0AM UTC

A colleague says “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Your boss asks you to work late — again. A coworker rolls their eyes at you.

These are all things we’ve experienced, and if we’re tempted to always please people — as many of us are — we probably say, “It’s no big deal.” Maybe we even mean it. But much of the time, we let it fester and feel resentful.

In The Harvard Business Review, James R. Detert explains why this hurts you and your career — and what to do instead.

Why is saying “It’s no big deal” harmful to your psyche and career?

Too frequently, saying this phrase to others or even just yourself is “a cognitive distortion that serves the short-term purpose of forgoing a difficult conversation or action while also setting you up for bigger problems down the road,” according to Detert. It becomes a pattern, where you’re constantly succumbing to these demands and begin to become resentful. Perhaps you think you’re bottling up your negative emotions, but they could very well be palpable to other people.

In fact, you might even inadvertently cause the situation to escalate and let your emotions loose at the worst possible time.

This will, in turn, adversely impact your psyche, how others perceive you at work and possibly your career.

What to do instead

So, what do you do about it?

Detert writes that if you’re tempted to say “it’s no big deal,” that means you actually should say something. Sure, it will be uncomfortable, but the alternative is a lack of resolution and could lead to far worse problems.

If, for example, it’s actually a small deal, try broaching the subject through a calm, collected discussion. It’s possible the other person wasn’t intentionally causing problems, after all.

According to Detert, it’s best to schedule some time separately with the other person and, perhaps, wait until you’ve had a little time to decompress. “Seek a conversation, not a confrontation,” he writes. That way, you’ll be more capable of seeing the other person’s point of view and give them a chance to express themselves, approaching the situation in a more respectful way.

Ultimately, you should learn to recognize your own emotional response and determine whether something really is “no big deal” or warrants a more thorough inquiry process. Sometimes, things aren’t really all that important — but it’s important not to let them fester so they become so.

About the Career Expert:

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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