Can’t is a 4 Letter Word
What is the most offensive word that you know? Would you use it at work with your colleagues or with your manager or team lead? Maybe you would under certain circumstances. How do you react when you hear your colleagues using it around you? I certainly don’t mind a certain amount of swearing, and use it myself from time to time. But there is one word that I really can not stand. And after having heard it used on me four times one day recently, I just about lost it.
So what offensive word am I referring to? The word is “can’t“. That is right, can’t is one of the most offensive words that I know. And using it with me may result in an unpleasant response. Unfortunately I hear it way to often in a business setting.
In almost every instance when someone tells me “can’t“, what they really mean is something else. Here are some examples.
I can’t do that.
In my experience, this actually means “I don’t want to do that”. This is almost as bad as the people that use “That isn’t my job”. And don’t get me started on that.
It can’t be done.
This usually means “I’m too lazy to figure this out”. Don’t use this cop out. Because I am likely to start asking you what options you have tried. You could at least try “I’m not sure how to do this, do you have any suggestions?”
You can’t do that.
Sometimes this is the same as “It can’t be done” above, with the same meaning. But sometimes they are trying to tell me what I can and can not do. In which case this really means “I’m too lazy to figure this out, and I assume you would be too lazy as well”. Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do. Ever.
In my experience there is never anything that can’t be done. Sometimes it takes some research, or requires learning a new skill, or a little help, or it could be expensive, or maybe there are are some unpleasant side effects. Those are all merely obstacles. And obstacles can always be circumvented; you just have to figure out how.
So the next time that you find yourself speaking to your colleagues or you team lead or manager and are about to say “can’t“. Remember that it can be done. And consider your words carefully.
Ok, I’ll try to calm down and end my rant for now. If you have any more examples of people using can’t with you, go ahead and leave them a comment along with what you think they really mean.