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Think Before You Speak: How Word Vomit Can Ruin Your Career

Sarah Landrum

Whether you run a startup or manage an office of people, the art of filtering is one you need to master in order to keep your career afloat.

Janice from accounting doesn’t give a #$*@ about what she says.

Although that may work for her, you should tread lightly before voicing every little thing that pops into your head while at work.

Whether you run your own startup or manage an office of people, the art of filtering is one you will have to master in order to keep your career afloat.

Here are some of the top ways word vomit can affect your ability to manage effectively:

Character Reflection

Your actions do speak louder than words, but your words can be pretty damaging if you’re screaming to the point you are red in the face and spitting venom. Every time you lose your head with an employee, the office will take notice.

Your reaction to something an employee or co-worker does says more about you than the person you’re attempting to admonish.

Good managers have a plethora of traits that contribute to their success, but saying whatever is on their mind is not one of them.

It’s important to note that not all word vomit has to stem from anger. Sometimes, a joke that pops into your head can be enough to affect someone you work with, and you may not even realize it.

As a manager or business owner, you’ll have to assess your team and learn what can be said and shouldn’t be said. Always air on the side of caution.

Morale Buster

If you’re prone to saying things you shouldn’t, chances are, there have been signs that have jumped up and slapped you in the face, telling you your filtering abilities need to be improved. You may have just been too engrossed in your work to notice them.

Some signs that you aren’t acting as a manager or business owner should include:

  • Dropping like flies: Employees or co-workers are abandoning ship faster than you can say iceberg! High turnover rates could be costing you big-time in training costs and employee education.
  • Office mice: Employees and co-workers scatter whenever they see you coming and avoid talking to you. This reaction probably stems from the fact you blurt things out you shouldn’t.
  • The plummet: Productivity is in the red, but you’ve never really stopped to ask why. When you critique, you need to think about how to present why the task wasn’t done properly.
  • Let’s be candid: Employees seem very guarded around you and avoid talking about personal things or anything not work-related. It could be because you make off-color remarks before thinking.
  • The old sick-a-roo: Calls for sick leave and vacation time have been rising even though it’s the middle of winter and none of your employees enjoy skiing. Employees have had enough of your poor managing skills.

Your words can have a dire impact on the performance of workers. If you see some of the above happening in your business, it’s time to enact some changes.

Vent It Out … or Maybe Not

You close the door to your office after getting off the phone with Bill in IT. The conversation wasn’t as productive as you hoped, and you need to vent to someone. Who better than the people of Facebook, right? Wrong.

Being canned because of a social media post is on the rise – which is perfectly legal – and more and more employers are keeping tabs on their staff.

You may be thinking: “That doesn’t matter because I’m the boss where I work.” That is the wrong thought process. In a way, it matters even more.

Your business or company functions because you have great employees working for you. If you begin to undermine your credibility with them by bad-mouthing part of your staff, the whole team may find out and you’ll have to suffer the consequences.

Honestly, if you’re taking to social media to complain about anyone you manage, you are probably in the wrong type of job. Just don’t do it. While there’s a laundry list of things people do that are unprofessional in the workplace, as a manager, social media venting is probably among the top. It may seem harmless in the moment, but down the road, it could turn ugly.

If you’ve been reading the above in a cold sweat as you recognize some of your bad habits, good. You’re finally recognizing the effects your word vomit can have on your workforce. Don’t lose your cool – isn’t that what got you into this mess in the first place? – there are a few simple ways you can stop the word vomit.

Cool Off

No one likes a hothead. When a crisis occurs or a staff member messes up, step back. It’s OK to take a walk outside or to your office to gather yourself and focus. To channel some good vibes, try the following:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Take a walk
  • Write out in your journal what happened and your plans to rectify the situation. Don’t write in an email format – you may accidentally press send
  • Text a trusted friend who has nothing to do with your company or business for some advice or a good laugh

Remember that you’ve also made mistakes throughout your work career. Put yourself in your team’s shoes before you blow up over a minor incident.

Bring in the Troops

If you’ve done your hiring well, your staff should be among the people you trust the most to get the job done right.

Create a business culture of openness and inclusivity by asking the staff to come together for a meeting if you feel you’ve acted rashly after reading some of the above items. Your transparency and honesty will most likely be greatly appreciated and well received, as long as you are genuine in your apology and explanation of what the future will hold.

If you’ve wronged one person directly, meet with them and have a candid conversation. He or she will respect you more in the end.

Be the Bigger Person

You’re the manager or boss, and at the end of the day, you have to decide whether you want to manage effectively or not.

Word vomit can alter your career course, even if what you’re saying is supposed to be funny or innocent in nature. As a manager or business owner, you should be a role model for your employees or co-workers.

Image Credit: BartekSzewczyk / Getty Images
Sarah Landrum Member
Sarah Landrum is a marketing specialist and freelance writer. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site on which she shares advice for professionals to find happiness and success in their careers. Subscribe to her blog newsletter and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum to get more great advice to grow your business and career.