The holidays are behind us, and you’ve already wished your colleagues a Happy New Year 2019. After all the holiday photo sharing and storytelling about your crazy mother in law’s escapades around the table this year has been done, conversation around the water cooler may suddenly seem boring and bleak. Needless to say, winter weather has not helped in spicing up the water cooler chit chat. Amidst the workplace melancholy, people often over compensate with personal stories about their weekends or significant other. No matter how dry conversation may get, dead silence still outweighs the perils of word vomiting all over your boss- or anyone who will listen.
So, to make your work life smoother, we have put together this little guide just for you. Read on for a refresher on what you should never, ever say in the workplace (…unless of course you’re trying to get fired and go back on holiday). Now, get to work!
1/ “Sorry, not my problem”
If you have a colleague complaining at your cubicle, be sure to avoid this response in your reaction, which may lead others to perceive you negatively because of your lack of camaraderie. Although everyone has their share of work to manage, whether it’s projects or people, playing the “not my problem” card implies that you are not a team player. It translates into unwillingness to help your colleagues, and whether morally or professionally, this is your problem if you are part of a company, group or team. Instead, when your colleague continues complaining, aim to maintain distance and diplomacy. Try sending them to another colleague who may be better suited to help them: “Oh, that sounds difficult. A clever idea can be to go see X, who has dealt with a similar issue before…”. Whether that person can help or not is finally not your problem, since you’ve made a diplomatic effort to assist. As long as you don’t brush them off and contribute in a small way toward helping them find a solution, you’re golden.
2/ “I give up”
This is something we tend to say when we’re stressed or panicked about our own responsibilities and a solution seems out of reach. Before throwing in the towel, opt first for a positive attitude that demonstrates your good will.
3/ “Well, I thought you meant something else…”
This statement does not get you off the hook for getting the meaning of a brief wrong. Conversely, it implies you have a communication issue, and perhaps don’t care to resolve it. Instead, try asking the person to explain precisely what they mean. Remember, no question is a stupid question; conversely, you may be seen as less than wise if you don’t ask any.
4/ ¨But, this is how we have always done things…¨
And if you’ve been doing it wrong since the beginning? Try again, mate. Even if you’re somebody who doesn’t favour change, being rigid and opposed to new methods in the workplace is likely not going to get you that promotion (unless you work in a prison, then please, please be rigid). You can however ask WHY the process has changed and try to understand how and why it can help make things more efficient.
5/ ¨This makes no sense!¨
If it makes no sense, it could very well mean that you failed to understand. Our advice here would be to wait before blaming anyone else and ask questions! Try to understand what your colleague means by thinking about things differently. Reading an email out loud can be helpful, although do take care not to be perceived as talking to your imaginary friend, which may also work against your coveted promotion. If none of these tips work for you, there is always communication. Ask your colleague for a brief chat, to which you will bring your questions (and do bring a notebook to record the answers!). Vocalize exactly what was unclear for you and ask for another explanation. Nobody ever got fired for asking for more information!
Presto! You are now ready to get back into the grind and start producing result. And, do take care to shave after your safari holiday, so your colleagues don’t confuse you with the Yeti that was spotted over the weekend. Of course, this won’t require much extra effort if you’ve found a way to have your razor blades delivered directly to your door, like with BIC SHAVE CLUB.