“I don’t have the capacity”

Do your colleagues have phrases they use in the workplace that annoy you? Phrases that make your eyes narrow or your cranky face appear? Phrases that make you clench your fists and scream internally?


This is the one that really drives me nuts. I first heard it a few years ago and it perplexed me immensely. I was working on a collaborative project that required consultation with colleagues from different teams across the organisation and at meeting after meeting I heard the same phrase – “I/we don’t have the capacity.

Whilst I am sure each of my colleagues meant to say, “I/we are really busy, already have way too much to do, and may cry if you make us do this”, the delivery of these five words actually came across time and time again as, “I/we don’t care about your idea no matter how awesome it is, I/we don’t want to be involved under any circumstances and I/we want you to stop talking about it immediately and never bring it up again”.

As a newish employee who was excited to work on this awesome project I felt like I was hitting a brick wall at every turn and that collaborating across the organisation would be impossible. How could I work with these people who care so little? I swore to myself that I would never use this phrase myself.

Fast forward a few years and the worst thing has happened – this phrase has entered my own vocabulary. I caught myself saying it once or twice and disappointingly thinking it many more times. The reason I don’t like this phrase is because it takes all of the authenticity out of the response and is textbook corporate speak.

I am not perfect and am guilty of doing this too but can we all agree to try and use less corporate speak and have more authentic interactions with our colleagues? I will try if you will!

What are the workplace phrases that drive you nuts?

I don't have the capacity-2

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