Keep Your Snarky Thoughts to Yourself
A colleague of mine had some damage control to do when one of his staffers fired off an internal email complaining about a difficult client, and inadvertently included said client in the email distribution list. Disagreeing about feedback from the client about her work was one thing, but this staffer had also included some derogatory personal remarks as well. Ouch.
Recently, ESPN suspended radio host Tony Kornheiser for comments he made on his show about co-worker Hannah Storm’s “horrifying, horrifying outfit.” Whether you believed that Storm’s wardrobe was appropriate or not, there is no question that Kornheiser should have kept his thoughts to himself.
In both of these cases, common sense and one’s internal editor should have kept them out of trouble. So what happened? Perhaps we’ve become desensitized by reality TV, where everybody speaks their minds — and the snarkier the comments, the higher the ratings. Or maybe this era of instant communication makes it too easy to vent before we’ve taken the time to reconsider.
On the job and in your job search, you’re playing to a very discerning audience. It’s essential to watch what you say in interviews, emails and voice-mail messages. You don’t want your words to come back to haunt you, especially when you’re trying to make a strong first impression.
Don’t trash talk your colleagues. Your ex-boss may have been a jerk, but it doesn’t make you more likable to say so. You don’t have to lie and say you were the best of friends, but find a way to talk about your relationship in positive terms in case you are asked. And if you aren’t asked, then remember what your mother said, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
Stick to the facts. If you have feedback to give to someone, or about someone, keep it strictly about their work performance. Commenting about their physical appearance or speculating out loud about their personal life crosses the bounds of professionalism.
Take a deep breath. What might feel good to get off your chest in the heat of the moment, may not reflect so well on you the next morning. Before you press “Send” or answer a touchy interview question, pause and engage your brain rather than giving in immediately to your impulse.
Handle slip-ups quickly. We’re all human and mistakes do happen. When they do, acknowledge them right away and apologize rather than hoping no one noticed. My colleague was able to save the account by getting to the client immediately, expressing his deep regret over the matter, and apologizing on behalf of the staffer.