Before the COVID pandemic, I agreed to participate in a specific project. As things settled, it was time to reevaluate the initiative.
Everyone’s schedules and priorities had changed. For some, the project became more important, but for me, it remained a relatively low priority initiative. I was asked if I’d be interested in taking on a more prominent role. Much to their disappointment, I declined.
I felt bad, but it was also the right thing to do. The change in circumstances was not my fault. I had made it clear upfront what role I was willing to play.
As a people-pleaser, in a prior life, I would have taken on the additional work, resented the project and the relationships, and would have been forced to downgrade the importance of alternative commitments.
It’s okay to say no. And although it doesn’t make it any easier, being polite, honest, and transparent can help maintain the relationship.
Almost every time I go to my local, big-box grocery store, the cashier and the bagger are complaining about their work. The coworker who was late. The supervisor who said no to a request.
It makes me uncomfortable. And it degrades my perception of their organization’s brand.
But wait, I do it too. I’m embarrassed to think back on how many occasions I’ve complained about something work-related to a friendly colleague.
In the moment it feels right. It’s a form of emotional coping, and it can also build stronger bonds with coworkers.
But perhaps these short-term benefits should be weighed against their long-term detriments.
For one, it signals that you’re willing to talk behind people’s backs. Second, it reinforces close-mindedness.
Sometimes people just make mistakes. So will we. Sometimes people just have a different perspective. And that’s okay too.
Are you second-guessing your off-the-cuff use of a curse word to make your point?
On the one hand, research suggests that swearing signals a lack of professionalism. On the other hand, research suggests that swearing signals authenticity or passion for a topic.
As usual, the context should dictate. The more informal the culture and the more you know the crowd, the more likely your swearing won’t offend.
Curse words, by definition, have some degree of stigma as being taboo. So when you do use them, they have the potential to wake people up. They carry an emotional impact.
However, if you really need to use a curse word to have an impact, the problem is probably the content of your message, not the delivery.
I once made a serious gaffe in a formal meeting with 20+ attendees. All of them older, wiser, and more experienced.
The comment was so incredibly stupid that for the next five minutes I was the source of an outrageous amount of laughter.
That was years ago, and I can still close my eyes and go back to the moment. I’m tormented by the memory of that experience. I was sweating. I couldn’t think of anything witty or self-deprecating to smooth it over.
The reality, however, is that no one in that meeting remembers what I said (I’ve asked). To them, it was just something to laugh about. Oddly enough, I made that meeting halfway entertaining - for at least those five minutes.
We’re all human. We all say stupid things sometimes.
Stop ruminating. Move on. No one really cares. We’ve got more important things to think about.
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