All of us have said things we later regret, but the trouble is that if you do so at work, it could cause problems. Someone who is discontented, and who openly criticises senior management to colleagues, will be seen as someone who spreads negativity – which is bad for the company and bad for business. And in the long run, this could cost you your job.
So the best way to avoid it is simply to decide not to talk about certain things at work. Here is our advice:
Make it a rule not to criticise senior management to your colleagues. Yes, you’re sick of your job, you hate the company and you think your boss is stupid. But beware! Never make negative, sneering comments about management while you are at work. You can be 100% sure that your comments will be repeated – and if they get back to the wrong people, it could cost you your job. If you have genuine criticisms, make a time when you can sit down with your manager and discuss matters – but take a positive approach, suggesting ways in which your think the situation could be improved. Criticism can be constructive and helpful; negativity undermines morale and can ultimately damage your own standing in the company.
Showing reluctance is never a good idea. Phrases like, “That’s not in my job description,” “I can’t, I won’t, I don’t see why I should,” “I can’t be bothered,” or “This task is below my level,” indicate a negative attitude and are the last thing your manager wants to hear. Indeed, if he hears it too often, he may consider that perhaps you’re not the right person for the job. However, if you really feel that there’s a problem, and that you’re being exploited, take the initiative and discuss it with your manager. The same applies if you feel under used: don’t just moan, tell your manager how you would like your job to grow. This will show you’re committed to expanding your role within the company and not just looking for the nearest exit.
Unrealistic eagerness can also cause problems. Are you the sort of person who is so anxious to please that they always say “yes”, even to unrealistic deadlines you know you can’t meet? If so, watch out! Someone who fails to deliver on time, who always asks for extensions to deadlines, is not someone who will inspire confidence in their colleagues. You will be considered at fault, not the person who made the unreasonable request. So instead of automatically responding to requests with, “Yes, no problem!” say, “Can I get back to you in a few minutes?” Or – be brave – “Monday end of business will be difficult. But I can definitely have it ready by Tuesday lunchtime.” If you say no to a deadline, always suggest an alternative which you can manage.
Arrogance is not an attractive quality, and it will make you unpopular. If you don’t like other people’s ideas, or their work, don’t just make sweeping statements like, “There’s no creativity in this place,” or “Thanks for your suggestions, I just put them in the bin.” This will only win you enemies. Just concentrate on making sure that your own work and ideas are really good: this will be noticed, and will help your career.
Other things you should avoid saying at work:
- How drunk you were last night (say it too often and people will form a negative impression of you)
- Tasteless jokes which could offend (you never know who’s listening, or who the joke will be repeated to)
- Religion and politics (always potentially inflammatory subjects)
- General gossip about colleagues (if you spread negative rumours about other people, you will earn a reputation as an untrustworthy trouble maker)