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TheStreet Open House

7 Ways You Insult Co-Workers Without Knowing It

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Although it's best to think before you speak -- especially at work -- everyone slips up now and then. Whether it's the "compliment" that comes across as a slap in the face or the unintentional dismissal of a colleague's accomplishments, throwing verbal daggers in the workplace can be costly. Our experts weigh in on the top seven kinds of comments to avoid to keep your career on the right track.

1. "Have you lost weight?"

"Unfortunately, the assumption here is that you looked absolutely horrid before," says Morag Barrett, CEO of SkyeTeam, an international HR and leadership development firm.

Ask yourself why you feel the need to comment on it, Barrett suggests. While you may enjoy getting compliments on your appearance, others may be more reserved and not want to feel like they're being observed or "inspected," Barrett says.

"For someone who doesn't want that attention, it's insulting," she says. "There will be some people who are very proud of what they've accomplished when they've lost weight, but you just never know. If you're at work, it's best if that kind of thing just isn't brought up."

Best thing to say instead? Nothing -- don't go there.

2. "It's not that we are excluding you, we just aren't including you at this time."

While this phrase may be intended to let someone know they'll be considered for a project "eventually," it leaves them with an element of doubt as to whether they'll ever be included or, worse, whether they're valued at all, Barrett says.

In some cases, this kind of phrase may be said in an attempt to be humorous, but it's not going to translate that way, she explains.

"It's only going to make people feel insulted. They're going to assume the worst. They're going to think that you don't see them as collaborative or helpful enough to be a part of what's going on."

Best thing to say instead? "We needed five people for this project, and we have that. When the time is right, we'll include you."

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