Category Archives: Gossip

How nice are you at work?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners, 
Being the new guy at work, I notice some of the associates treat me like an outcast. It’s not all the time but time to time. Just recently a fellow associate approached me to let me know the group I worked with kept something from me so I would not let this person (fellow associate) know. This person and I are not very close and we do not talk everyday, but the group I work with knew we were acquaintances. I feel very outraged that people I work with would have such childlike behavior, especially since the one starting it is my manager. I understand if you may not like someone, but to go out of your way and get a group of people you work with to hide something like new pennies from a fellow associate is just childish. How do I cope with this? It really makes me feel like they are separating me from their group, even though some are nice to me, and I can’t believe all of them would go along with it. 
Thank You, 
Cooked Goose from Clarksdale

Dear Cooked,
I question why a fellow associate would tell you something so hurtful in the first place. It could be that he or she has made assumptions and passed them on to you, and now you also are making assumptions about your work group. Why don’t you set a great example by being the one in your group who always assumes higher intent and refuses to participate in gossip?
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Ms. Corporate Manners, can you keep a secret?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners, 
Just wondering if you can tell me if we can ask you about things that bother us about co-workers, and to try to get advice on how to handle things. Also, I know that when I have read other posts from you, people’s names are not used, and I just want to be sure that my name is not revealed to others.
Ready to Scream

Dear Ready,
This column is confidential, so scream away.
Ms. Corporate Manners

Do you put your foot in your mouth at work?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
One of my co-workers has a golden tongue and always says the right thing. The bosses just love him, but I seem to put my foot in my mouth a lot. Any tips?
Big Mouth in Memphis

Dear Big Mouth,
What you say affects how people perceive you – as a team player or self-seeker, worker or whiner. At least that’s what the book “How to Say It at Work” advises. You need to learn how to communicate clearly and persuasively – even when you have to admit you’ve made a mistake. 

The book had some tips:

The way you speak should convey confidence.  Good phrases include: “best use of resources,” “work out the difficulties,” “do a thorough job,” “more flexibility” and “opens up possibilities.”

The book warns against using words that suggest failure or weakness, such as: final, mistaken, forgot, nervous, foul-up and tired. Other negative phrases are: “can’t do,” “beyond me,” “beyond repair,” “big mistake,” “big trouble,” “dead-end,” “it’ll never work,” “it slipped past me” and “MY BAD.”

Non-verbal communication is important too. In the 1970s, Dr. Albert Mehrabian found that when listeners judge the emotional content of a speech, body language and tone matter 93 percent more than verbal cues. So your mother was right – upright posture, a friendly smile and good eye contact are important.

Some obvious mannerisms to avoid include:

  • Biting your lip or wringing your hands
  • Crossing your arms in front of your chest
  • Yawning
  • Avoiding eye contact

And remember, if you’re wrong, just say, “I’m sorry.” Then quickly follow with how you’ll make things right.

Ms. Corporate Manners

To learn more, read, “How to Say It at Work,” by Jack Griffin (Prentice-Hall, Paramus, NJ).

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Spreading rumors

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,

I’ve been employed with this organization for 10 years and I have seen many changes during this time. One thing I guess that bothers me most is the lack of privacy and/or confidentiality within my part of the organization. What does one do when they feel like no manager in the entire office can be trusted with any personal or confidential information? I know for a fact that if something is shared with my manager – or any manager in my office – it will spread like wildfire in a very short amount of time. Over time, I just don’t feel as proud of my employer, and I am embarrassed. How can I feel good about working here again?

Signed,  Just Want It Kept Quiet

Dear Quiet,

Spreading rumors and not keeping confidences are morale breakers in the workplace. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind our readers that “loose lips sink ships” – especially if you are a manager who is gossiping about personal information. We’re all tempted to spread gossip, but managers have a special responsibility to be discreet and respectful. You may want to call the human resource representative for your area for help.

Signed, Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

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