A. You could counter with a half-smile and, "Well, actually, it is a problem because . . ." A tiresome joke repeated ad nauseam is surprisingly effective at retraining someone out of a verbal tic. Either he'll drop the phrase or he'll explain that he simply means, "I'll get that fixed right away." The latter will give you an opening to reply: "I hear what you're trying to say, but that response comes across as dismissive. I know you take your work seriously, and I want other people to know it, too."
Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers. Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG's Washington National Tax office. You can find her on Twitter, @KarlaAtWork.