Words, words, words! These 4 letters have shaped the world (literally) and continue to create our reality. So why do we use them so carelessly? This applies to every aspect of our lives including work; let’s talk about how not to use words in our offices.
- Say Yes to Everything – Contrary to popular opinion, the inability to say ‘NO’ is a weakness and not a strength. How do I mean? You know when you were hired, you got a job description and your workload has tripled but your pay has not? Then you find out you have less and less time for your own work because you are always saying ‘YES’ to other people’s jobs? Take a minute to think about it.
We have been told that saying ‘YES’ gives your boss a good impression about you and shows that you are willing to contribute beyond your scope of work; that is true; when you say ‘YES’ sometimes not ‘all the time’. Your boss and your colleagues start to wonder if you were doing anything in the first place or if you were waiting around to be assigned tasks.
Trust me, some of your colleagues would deliberately dump their work on you; while you are feeling like the ‘most helpful’ employee, they are freeing up time to achieve more and guess what, they probably won’t mention your name when turning in their work.
A lot of your colleagues have ‘urgent’ requests that are important to them; they barge into your office (some ask nicely) and ask you to drop everything you are doing and face their problems. Well, you need to learn these phrases – “let’s do this later”, “not this time” or simply “NO”. If not, you’ll be waving goodnight to them at 5 pm, while waiting behind to catch up on your own tasks.
- ‘You Smell Nice’ – There seems to be a thin line between compliments and creepiness. It’s what you say, how you say it, where and when you say it. To be honest – if you do not have a close relationship with the person, try to keep compliments to the barest minimum. One man’s idea of what is okay is another man’s idea of inappropriate. A friend went for an interview and was asked if she had recently lost weight, the guy asking was probably trying to start a conversation, but for her, it was a red flag about the culture of asking personal questions and passing creepy comments.
Please try not to be the one dishing out unwanted/ill-advised compliments. I know you are excited to see those Louboutin shoes or that Armani suit, but instead of freaking out and spewing out weird comments; take 5 seconds to breathe and say ‘You look nice’; or is that also not allowed?
- Yell/Let your anger take over – Personality types, temper tantrums and the bane of anger management..these can lead to a whole bunch of unexpected outcomes. You know those colleagues that working with them is like participating in extreme sports? The emotional roller coaster is troubling – they lose their cool at the drop of a hat and can be loud, sometimes brash. They claim that’s just the way they are and anyone who cannot deal with it should probably not be their friend. Well, do not be that person. If you have anger issues, acknowledge it and take responsibility for bringing it under control. Don’t be that person that everyone (including your boss) is afraid to give feedback because they know it would degenerate into a shouting bout. Shouting/yelling and constant displays of uncontrolled emotions call your professionalism and ability to take on leadership roles into question.
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” – Rumi
- Trash Talk/Gossip – I am not the ‘Office Gossip’, I just always have updates on office current affairs, especially the ones that people should not, but want to, know. Information is power, so I leverage it to get what I want. I am just good at reading people and getting them to talk to me; I am also very good at talking to other people about them. These are some of the excuses that people give for trash talking, gossiping and starting rumours at work. Let’s face it if you are saying things about people that they have not given you permission to share and you cannot repeat in front of them; you are a gossip. The best part about this is that, what goes around, usually comes around. So the next time you walk into the lunchroom and they change the subject abruptly, they were probably talking about you too.
Just in case you are an expert at this; you gather information about everyone, but do not give much information about yourself; congratulations! What about your reputation as the guy/lady who cannot be trusted?
- Send Personal Emails from your work account – #Bigbrother is always watching, and in most organisations, they are referring to the IT Department. Dear staff/employee, as much as organisations value your privacy, they value Information Security a whole lot more. What does this mean for you? Remember that on-boarding document on email/internet usage that you signed? Well, it usually means that while using office tools, you have waived the right to email and internet privacy and that your organization has a legal right over all emails sent from your work account and can review your internet /browser activities while at work. Here is the kick; even if your work email is configured on your personal phone, IT can still review all emails sent from your work account. Some organisations take it a step further and ask you to agree to terms that state that ‘if your work email is configured on your phone, upon exit, they have permission to remotely wipe your phone’. Don’t believe me, just ask: always read the fineprints.
Bottom line: if you do not want your boss to see it, do not send it from your work account. If you do not want your organization to know about your job hunt, please use your own data.
Knowing what you know now, are there words you would like to take back?
Words are powerful, so how do they help or hinder career progression?
Let’s talk in the comments section and feel free to start a conversation and tag your friends and colleagues; you might be shocked by the feedback.