What you say on your first day on the job doesn’t just influence what your colleagues think of you — it could end up costing you the gig.
“If you say something that’s off, it sets the tone, and that could be the reason for you to be let go in your first three months,” says J.T. O’Donnell, the founder of career-advice site Careerealism.com and author of “Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career.”
“It’s natural to want to be liked — to impress and fit in quickly,” says workplace expert Michelle Kerrigan. “However, many try too hard, and talk too much when they should be listening.”
Here are 22 things you should avoid saying — especially on your first day on the job:
'In my last job ... '
No one likes a know-it-all.
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, etiquette and civility expert and author of 'Don't Burp in the Boardroom,' suggests walking into the new job with energy, but she also recommends a splash of humility.
'Not the timid, reserved definition, but with an attitude of learning -- not knowing it all,' she tells Business Insider.
'You look different than you sound over the phone.'
'Don't begin a conversation by implying you're surprised, disappointed, or puzzled by that fact that the person did not meet your predisposed expectations,' says Darlene Price, author of 'Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results.' 'Instead say, 'Hi, it's so nice to meet you and great to finally place a face with name!''
'OMG, I LOVE that!'
You're already hired; there's no need to try too hard to get people to like you.
While it's nice to know that people think you're personable or that you really 'get' the company, Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of 'Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,' says this is a waste of energy. You'll impress naturally by just being yourself.
'When do I get a raise?'
'How about getting through the 90-day probationary period first,' Randall suggests.
'BTW, I have to leave early on Fridays.'
'If you hadn't talked about that prior to joining, landing in the new job and suddenly dropping these kinds of bombs on them really shows a lack of communication and respect on your part,' O'Donnell says.
'They're expecting you to just come in and be there and be present, be eager, be ready and willing to learn.'
'Hang on ... I'm just finishing up this HR paperwork.'
On your first day, you'll likely be pulled in a thousand directions, Taylor says. But it's important you make yourself accessible to your new boss first and foremost, despite all the administrative distractions.
'This is an important first impression you don't want to discount,' she says. 'Companies are not always as organised as they'd like when onboarding staff. You can easily get caught up with an HR professional, various managers, or coworkers -- or with a special assignment that keeps you from being available to the person who matters most.'
'Who should I meet and who should I avoid around here?'
A question like this is basically asking coworkers to gossip -- that's a career killer, Randall says. And one person's beef with another coworker is their business only and could have developed over matters you have no idea about.
'Take time to meet and engage in small talk with each person in your department,' Randall suggests. 'Judge for yourself.'
'That's not how I learned how to do it.'
Keep the conversation positive, O'Donnell says. Employers don't want to hear what you can't do; they want to hear that you are open-minded and ready to learn to do it their way.
'That can sometimes slip out because people want to be able to show their expertise and they think, 'That's why I got hired,'' O'Donnell says. 'But if you don't frame it properly, it can really sound negative and critical of the organisation that's just hired you.'
'I heard (x rumour). Is it true?'
You don't want to come off as a gossip, especially on your first day. Avoid asking about -- or spreading -- rumours about the company, your new colleagues, or your old employer.
'What's the holiday party like? Do we get bonuses or a ham or something?'
'You are the ham,' Randall says. 'Why don't you just wait and see when holiday time rolls around. By the way, what will you do if you go home empty-handed?'
'I'm going through a bit of a rough time.'
Price suggests avoiding mention of personal adversity when you first meet a new colleague or boss. Mentioning your relationship woes, for example, may give your coworkers and boss reason to doubt your focus and ability or view you as a complainer.
'Strive to maintain a positive outlook at work and rely on personal friends and family to help you through adversity,' Price says.
'What do you have to do around here to get an upgrade on this company phone?'
If your company phone isn't the newest or shiniest, chances are your coworkers' aren't either. Asking for an upgrade will undoubtedly alienate some people who will question if you think you deserve it more.
'Learn to deal with what you are given. If the company is technology deficient, has older desks, chairs, or office décor, don't allow or use it to determine how you get the job done,' Randall says.
'That makes no sense.'
You may come across a way of doing things in your new company that you don't understand or agree with, but framing it this way makes you seem like a Negative Nancy or -- even worse -- just plain dumb.
'Get some feedback before you make this automatic assumption,' O'Donnell says. Instead of saying the policy doesn't make sense to you, ask why the company does it this way, the history behind it, and try to understand the policy from the organisation's point of view.
'My old boss was clueless.'
Maybe your previous boss was an idiot. But negative complaints and comparisons are rarely welcomed, Kerrigan points out, and these kinds of statements can be harmful to your professional brand and how you're perceived. You're the one that's coming off as clueless.
'Your brand is your trademark, and it's built by consistency -- good and bad,' she says. 'Once established as bad, it's hard to change perception. You need to build and maintain a positive brand -- to be memorable for the good.'
'I'm so beat.'
It's important to project high energy, Taylor says, especially in your early days on the job when your attitude and work ethic are most visible and under the microscope.
'When are you due?'
'If you imply a woman is pregnant when she isn't, there is no recovery. It's a colossal insult,' Price says.
'Besides, this observation (whether true or false) is too personal to mention for a first time meeting,' she says. 'Unless the woman brings it up, stick with professional topics that relate to your industry or business function.'
'No, thanks. I brought my lunch today.'
Turning down an opportunity to get lunch and bond with new coworkers or a boss seems standoffish, even if you did pack your lunch that day.
'I'd like to invite you all to my church this Sunday.'
Unless it has something to do with your job, you might consider bringing the 'never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table' rule to your desk as well.
'These discussions aren't generally well received in a work environment,' Randall says. 'You may find coworkers shying away from you as Fridays approach.'
'In my opinion ... '
As a rule of thumb, make 'ask, don't tell' your mantra for the day, O'Donnell says.
Unless asked, it's better to keep your opinion to yourself and see what your employers have to say about things first.
'What's the employee discount like?!'
Defer these kinds of questions to the policies and procedures manual, Randall says.
'Inquiring and asking for perks is so 'me, me me' -- an unfavorable trait.'
'Hey, working hard or hardly working?!'
First of all, lame.
Second, while you may see other coworkers ribbing one another and think it's fine to join in, don't.
'They earned that level of casualness with each other … you are not there yet,' O'Donnell says.
'In the beginning, even though it may feel a little buttoned-up for you, you've got to be respectful, you've got to be polite, you've got to prove to people that you're there to do a great job.'
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