Communication is key anywhere, be it the office or in your dating life. Still, sometimes speaking up does more harm than good. Here are a few instances at work when it’s best to keep your nose to the grindstone (yup, we went there) and your lips zipped.
1. When you’re hangry. I am 100 percent guilty of bitching while hangry. For some reason, anything that happens to me before I have breakfast — which I eat after I get to my desk — feels 200 times worse than it would if my blood sugar were higher. If someone makes a remark that bugs you during a meeting, before responding, take a breath and ask yourself: “When’s that last time I’ve eaten?” If you’re starving, you’re likely thinking a little less rationally than you would be otherwise.
2. When everyone else is. If everyone else is quietly focused (or just dozing from their post-lunch coma), anything you say will carry across the office. If you don’t want everyone to hear it, GChat it to your cubemate … or just hunker down and follow everyone else’s example and work.
3. When your criticism isn’t constructive. We know it’s tempting, but yelling “Jenna, you’re a f—king idiot” isn’t helping anyone, even if it’s true. Try, “Jenna, that’s not a bad idea, but I think XYZ may work better. Can I explain why?” If you can’t offer a suggestion to improve something, don’t comment at all.
4. If you’re feeling critical and others are around. Instead of pointing out what an idiot Jenna is in front of the entire team, take a breather and try addressing it with her privately, either in person or over email. “Hey Jenna, I didn’t want to mention this in the meeting, but do you think ABC would be more effective?” The only exception to this? If you think dumbass Jenna will steal credit for your work.
5. When you’re heated. Whether it’s warranted or not, if you’re getting blamed for a big problem or thrown under the bus, don’t respond in anger. If you can, go for a walk. Get a bite to eat. Vent to a pal. Journal. Sleep on it. Then, if you’re still upset tomorrow, request a meeting when you can address the issue calmly and with logic, not emotion.