“CYA” (cover your ass) is a great phrase for office life, but sometimes it has connotations of selfishness, like you’re saying someone just wants to protect himself, he doesn’t really care about the group or the company.

Example: “That email was mostly CYA. He just wants to make sure that if the project fails, no one will blame him.”

Sometimes you want an alternative way to say “we need to be thorough, and make sure we’re protected if it fails” without that connotation of selfishness. Here are some alternatives you can use:

to manage the potential risks (example: “We need to manage the potential risks.”)
to take protective measures (example: “We need to take protective measures here.”)
to minimize potential negative repercussions (example: “We need to minimize potential negative repercussions.”)
to cover all the angles (example: “We need to cover all the angles.”)
to protect against downside risk (example: “We need to protect against downside risk.”)
to make sure all the bases are covered (example: “We need to make sure all the bases are covered.”)
to prepare for potential negative outcomes (example: “We need to prepare for potential negative outcomes.”)
to cover the bases (example: “We need to cover the bases.”)

Probably the best way to make sure no one thinks you’re trying to say “He was just covering his own ass” is just to be specific about who is being protected, like “He is just concerned about downside risk for the company” or “He was just trying to minimize potential negative repercussions for the company.”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.