Avoid the phrase: “Sorry this is late!”
Instead say: “Thank you for your patience.”
As often as possible, try to frame your contributions in a positive light (even if the situation is negative —say, if you missed a deadline by a few hours). Being grateful instead of repentant will usually leave a better taste in your coworker’s mouth, and that can have a big impact on how they remember you next time. If they bring up your tardiness after the fact, then you can apologize. (That said, don’t make a habit of being late to begin with! Here are 13 habits of people who are always on time.)
Avoid the phrase: “I dunno.”
Instead say: “I’ll find out” or, “I’m not sure – would you like me to find out?”
Nobody expects you to have all the answers all the time. However, letting a conversation rest on “I don’t know,” can show an unwillingness to learn or to exert yourself in pursuit of a better outcome. “I’ll find out” shows initiative, and shows your coworker that a question that’s important to them is also important to you. You’ll bank much more respect this way. Here are 9 voice tricks to get more respect at work.