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Some people are men and women of few words. To work in an office with such people is truly a blessing. Most workers, however, are stuck in a workplace where they hear about everything from a co-worker’s baby-making plans to his/her estranged relationship with their father or mother. Talking about such topics might be OK to share over cocktails with your best friend — they are not OK for the workplace.
Why? Because people spend more time at the office with co-workers than anywhere (or anyone) else. Some workers have trouble drawing the line between business and friendship, says Susan Solovic, co-founder and CEO of SBTV.com, and author of three books, including Reinvent Your Career: Attain the Success You Desire and Deserve. “It’s a social environment as well as a work environment. However, you must remember: While you can be friendly and develop a good rapport, business is business and friendship is friendship.”
These days, your job security is unstable enough as it is. The last thing you need is to make an off-the-cuff remark that gets you fired (or shunned from the likes of your co-workers). To help keep your career on track, here are 6 things you should never say (or discuss) in the workplace:
1. “That’s not my job.”
When you boil things down, everyone does things that “aren’t their job.” If everyone complained that a certain task wasn’t in the offer they signed, the labor force would be in more trouble than it already is. If someone asks for your help, take it as a compliment. He or she obviously values your input or thinks your skills would be good fit for the task. Not only will it help earn good office karma (you never know when you’ll need help from other colleagues), but it never looks good to only do the bare minimum. And no boss wants to hear those four words!
2. “I don’t mind helping you with that.” (With a fake smile pasted on your face.)
There’s nothing worse than someone who offers to help and then complains about it later. If you take on a task with a smile but don’t really want to do it, your help is as good as no help at all. When you work without enthusiasm, it’s never your best effort. Plus, don’t say you’ll do something if you have no intention of actually completing the task or you’ll earn a reputation as an unreliable person. Your colleagues are relying on you, so your decision not to follow through impacts their jobs, too.
3. “Don’t tell anyone I said this, but … ”
Anytime you start a sentence with that phrase, you’re asking for one thing: The recipient of your knowledge to, indeed, tell someone you said that. If it’s really a secret, keep it to yourself. Whether you know someone in the office got pregnant by the mail guy or you found out what the boss makes, you’re going to get credit for spreading the news. Plus, if a co-worker is gossiping with you, most likely he or she will gossip about you.
4. “I haven’t gotten a raise, EVER.”
Since most employers base salary increase on productivity (not longevity), asking for a raise based on how long you’ve been with the company or how long it’s been since your last one will tell your boss only that you want more money — not that you deserve it. Instead, prove the raise is merited.
5. “I’m so … stressed out/busy/sick of working here.”
Constant complaints about your workload, stress levels or the company will quickly make you the kind of person who never gets invited to lunch. If you don’t agree with company policies and procedures, address it through official channels or move on.
6. “I have (insert weird, gross or inappropriate medical condition) here .”
Nobody cares about your aches and pains, the weird fungus on your foot, your infertility woes or the bad gas you got from eating Chinese food last night. To your employer, your constant medical issues make you seem like an expensive, high-risk employee. And to your co-workers, you seem like an attention-seeking hypochondriac.
Be mindful, be respectful and be professional in your conversations with co-workers and you will find a much better work environment.
Peace, Love and Gumbo!
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