Office dynamics can be difficult and it is easy to overstep your boundaries without thinking. The mantra of think before you speak holds true. What you say is a reflection of who you are and in an ecosystem like the office, bad things tend to get around faster than good. Here are 5 things that you should never say at the office.
1. “That’s not my Job”
This is a very common thing that can get blurted out in the heat of the moment when your boss assigns you one too many tasks or when a coworker once again tries to throw you under the bus. Play this one carefully. If it’s your boss, you should never say that as you come across as a terrible team player. If you are genuinely swamped, a better approach could be to list your current tasks and ask your boss which you should prioritize. This demonstrates that you have a lot on your plate and you are not just shirking responsibility.
If it’s a co-worker, it would depend on your assessment of the situation. We are ultimately codependent on our colleagues, and helping someone out can pay back in the long-term. Where you can, you could use your discretion to take on others’ responsibilities. However, if someone is trying to take advantage of you, you could decline in a firm but polite manner.
Doing things outside of your perceived job scope can benefit you. You learn by doing. You might find a new niche, or by doing things outside your normal job scope, you could interact with new colleagues or bosses from another department and build new network contacts for yourself.
2. “I got so wasted last night”
It is tempting to complain or overshare about your personal life at the workplace, especially if you think it is just harmless banter with your colleagues. However, this is still work. Being professional is important and you don’t want to create a negative impression of yourself unknowingly. The same goes to personal problems or health issues. The office is much smaller than you think and word gets around.
3. “I’m the only one who does any work around here”
This one hurts both ways. First, nobody hearing this will be pleased to hear it. Be it your bosses or colleagues, it just makes you seem petty. Second, this doesn’t help to resolve your problem if it actually exists. If you are having issues with workload and incompetent colleagues, have a deep think and work towards actual solutions. Raise this to your bosses in a non-confrontational manner, perhaps subtly when he/she inevitably asks about the progress of a certain task.
Additionally, eat some humble pie and think carefully if your colleagues really are slacking. Re-examine your assumptions and throw away your judgment. They may be contributing in ways unseen to you, or they are somehow finding a more efficient way to work.
4. “He doesn’t deserve the promotion”
Like the previous example, this makes you look petty and a sore loser. Complaining about other people’s success will not help your own. Regardless of how undeserving you might feel this promotion may be, dwelling on it solves nothing. Instead, change your mindset and see if there is anything that you can learn from this colleague and if you can replicate his/her success on your own terms.
5. “You look very tired”
This one can be well-meaning, but if you think about it, what exactly is your purpose in pointing out that someone looks tired? If the person is tired, he/she already knows it and doesn’t need to be reminded. A more constructive approach would be to get him/her a cup of coffee or a snack and offer them a pick-me-up. This person will thank you for it.
On this topic, it bears pointing out that very often, comments on personal appearance will land you in hot water as people may get offended even if they don’t show it. Beyond unintentionally offending someone, you may also get answers that you did not expect, creating potentially very awkward situations. It is always wise to err on the side of caution and try your best never to make comments on others’ appearance.
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