Though the quality of your work should (and often does) speak volumes about your integrity and abilities, your reputation also matters. It's entirely possible to have a great performance history muddled by a poor reputation, or a bumpy track record made up for by an image of personal commitment and integrity.
One of the worst qualities that can be associated with your name is laziness--a conscious lack of desire or motivation to put effort into your job. Laziness means a bad attitude on top of a poor performance, and being seen as lazy can destroy your professional reputation.
Watch out for these 10 phrases, any one of which could illustrate you as a lazy worker.
1. That isn't my job. Each of us has specific talents and specific responsibilities in our professional roles, and inevitably, we're tasked with things that fall outside those parameters. You might be asked to research something that's outside your comfort zone or help out with another department's workload. Flat-out rejecting a request like these by stating "that isn't my job" will make you seem lazy. Instead, try to take it on--if you absolutely can't, use softer, more logical reasoning to suggest a party who might be able to handle it more efficiently.
2. I'm just following orders. If someone questions the way you're going about a given task, this is probably the laziest response you can give. "I'm just following orders" implies a number of different things; it implies you don't much care for the end results of the project. It implies you aren't interested in going above and beyond the bare minimum. It even implies that you aren't willing to hear outside perspectives. In short, it makes you seem close-minded and apathetic in addition to being lazy.
3. I know what I'm doing. This phrase is almost exclusively used in response to someone else's unsolicited advice or questioning. It may irk you when someone from outside your department makes a comment about work that's going on in your department, but this isn't the right way to handle it. If you really know what you're doing, you can take a few seconds to clarify the other party's misconception. Otherwise, you can consider their criticism or objection fairly.
4. I just have a lot on my plate right now. This is a phrase often used in truth, but there's one key problem with it; all of us have a lot on our plates, almost all the time. Even at your least busy, there are probably dozens of background tasks and potential projects that are occupying your mind. Stating that your plate is full implies that you think your time is more valuable than everyone else's, or that you're simply unwilling to take on new work (even though everyone else in your company probably is).
5. This wasn't my fault. Taking responsibility when something goes wrong takes effort, integrity, and determination. Passing the blame requires none of these. It's definitely the easier option, but that makes it the lazier one as well. If something goes wrong, don't immediately try to pass the buck; take responsibility for whatever part of the incident was your fault--odds are, there's something you'll have to take accountability for.
6. I deserve more. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the workforce thinks of themselves as underpaid, undervalued, and overworked. It's natural to want more, but stating you deserve more without any specific research-backed or logical evidence illustrates you not only as lazy, but also entitled. If you really want to make this claim, do so with objective data.
7. I have a stupid question. Preempting your question with a qualifying phrase like this implies one of two possible scenarios. In scenario one, you know your question has been answered already in some form, and you're too lazy to try and figure out the answer on your own. In scenario two, you're afraid your question isn't well thought-out, so instead of thinking it through in greater detail, you decided to hedge your bets by admitting it might be stupid. Neither is good for your image.
8. I would have done that differently. When someone does something wrong or inefficiently, it's easy to state something like this. However, this phrasing doesn't actually solve anything. First, it shows that you "would have" done something, but you didn't do anything--making you seem lazy in the past. Second, it shows you're more focused on criticizing the past than changing the future, making you seem lazy in the present.
9. I don't know how to do that. There are lots of responsibilities you won't know how to handle well. It's a natural part of most jobs. If you're really struggling with an assignment, don't be afraid to ask for help, but you have to at least try to tackle it on your own. Instead of saying "I don't know how to do that," try to figure it out on your own first.
10. I don't care. This is the ultimate expression of laziness and detachment, no matter what context it's used in. There will be things in your company that you genuinely don't care about--but in those cases, it's far better to just keep your mouth shut.
You don't have to pull late nights and long hours to avoid being seen as lazy, and it's entirely reasonable to occasionally turn down an assignment, but be careful how you conduct yourself and choose your words wisely. All it takes is one bad or misinterpreted situation to harm your reputation. Work hard, show your commitment, and don't pass off work you can handle on others--do these things, and it's unlikely you'll ever have a problem with seeming lazy in the workplace.