What is said is often not what is meant--especially where these phrases are concerned:

1. "It's not about the money."

Yes, it is. If money weren't an issue, you wouldn't even think to bring it up.

(By the way: There's nothing wrong with money being a primary driver--at all.)

Of course, if you say it's not about the money, you could prove it's not about the money: You could forgo that raise, give back that bonus, take less equity or profit.

Thought so.

If it's not about the money, focus solely on what is most important--and leave out the pseudo-altruism.

2. "That sounds great--I'll let you know!"

It actually doesn't sound great, but you don't want to hurt the person's feelings.

3. "I'm a giver."

Truly giving people give generously, selflessly, and without expectation of return. They give because their happiness--and their success--comes from someone else's happiness and someone else's success.

Giving people give simply because it's who they are.

Do you walk around saying "I'm a man" or "I'm a brunette" or "I'm an American"? Of course you don't--those things are who you are.

Take it from Margaret Thatcher, who said, "Power is like being a lady; if you have to say you are, you aren't."

The same is true for being a giver: People already know if you are or if you aren't.

4. "I'm just thinking out loud."

Actually, you've had the idea for a while, and you think it's great. But it's a lot more fun to come across as if you're super creative and just dreamed up the idea on the spot.

And, oh yeah, you'll be hurt if people don't agree with what you're about to propose.

5. "No, it's fine."

In fact, it's far from fine, but you don't want to talk about it any more.

6. "We have no specific plans at this time to..."

"At this time" almost always means "We're thinking about it, and maybe we're even hoping for it, but we're not quite ready to announce it."

Say sales are down and you're forced to consider employee layoffs. If only to keep morale up, you may not want employees to know that yet. But still, once you actually do announce layoffs, everyone will forget "at this time" and simply feel lied to.

If you're considering something, and you're asked about it, whenever possible, be honest. Say, "Yes, sales are down, and if we don't find a solution fairly quickly, we might have to reduce staffing."

Don't worry that you'll cause concern or alarm. Rest assured your employees already know.

7. "We're not looking for additional sales channels."

Whom are you kidding? Every company wants more sales. You're just not interested in working with that person.

8. "Let me see what I can do."

Odds are you can't--or won't--do anything, but at least you can pretend you'll try.

9. "Let me be honest."

Easily the most annoying on the list because, "Let me be honest" implies you haven't been honest, or open, or forthcoming up to this point.

(And if not, why not?)

If you need to say something difficult, just say it. Don't pretend you're saying something you shouldn't say--because if you really shouldn't say it, don't say it.

10. "With all due respect..."

While Ricky Bobby takes it a little too far, prefacing any statement with "With all due respect" means you feel the other person is misguided. Or wrong. Or even stupid.

So leave out the theoretically impact-softening preface and just say, as politely and professionally as you can, what you really mean.

Honesty is always the best way to show "due respect."

11. "I may be wrong, but..."

No, you do think you're right--otherwise you wouldn't say what you're about to say. So, hey, just say it.

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Now it's your turn: What would you add to the list? Please share in the comments section below.

Published on: Jun 10, 2015
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