As I walked off the elevator on the way to his office I heard my client (a vice president) screaming at two of his direct reports. I hadn’t even turned the corner when he let words fly that would have made his mother cringe in disbelief.
Sometimes we do things that we just shouldn’t do. They seem justified in the moment, only to find out later that we did ourselves more harm than good. I see my fair share of these behaviors in my work, so listen up and let me save you from ruining your branding or even worse, your career.
Number One – Never, ever write, email, or text anything that you don’t want in the hands of your boss, your CEO, or the government entity that oversees your market segment. What you think is private is NOT. Assume that Big Brother is always listening. Ned, who was jokingly texting his work friends about their boss, accidentally included her on the text thread. WHOOPS! There went Ned’s promotion. Keep your conversations, your emails, texts, and instant messages professional.
Number Two – Don’t Gossip about ANYONE! We all have people who drive us crazy at work. They chomp their pretzels too loudly in the cubicle next to us, they wear that perfume or cologne that was only meant to be worn by teenagers, or even worse they aren’t good at their jobs. Yes, you want to laugh about your counterparts’ funny habits or work ethic. This may help you cope for one more day, but realize that most likely what you said is going to find its way back to them. From a human standpoint, it just isn’t nice to say mean things about others. If you must say something, save it for someone outside of work. (Just make sure that when you tell your friend outside of work that nobody is sitting in the booth behind you. Jenny, one of my clients who didn’t gossip at work went off about her boss to a close friend at dinner. When they got up to leave the boss’s assistant was sitting in the booth behind Jenny. OUCH!) Just like I told my eleven-year-old daughter, who was going to share who she liked at school with her most, best-est friend. “When you are 11 there are no secrets!” The same goes for work, no matter your age.
Number Three –Quit whining and become proactive. Move from the complaining team to the team of “let’s do something about this!” It is easy to complain and difficult to find a solution. There are two types of people at any sporting event. The first are those who are in the ring or on the field playing their hearts out and those in the stands screaming and trash-talking the players. Choose to jump in the ring, get involved, and make a difference versus stand around, watch life go by, and scream at everyone else how to live it.
Remember, it is your career!