Just Keep Quiet

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Let’s say there was an IT worker looking to advance his career in his current company. This person dressed for success, did quality work, on time, showed up every day and was engaged. This person responded to positive feedback with improved performance, made good suggestions to implement bottom-line impacting changes in the organization and then took the initiative to begin whatever process was needed to carry them out. This person was doing all the right things until one day, his supervisor treated him badly, and he blew up like nitro.

Keep in mind this was a model employee until this explosive incident, but now the office is buzzing, as offices of all sizes and shapes tend to do, with reenactments of his fall from grace. If this mythical office is anything like the offices that I’ve worked in, the chances of the incident being forgotten are slim to none. In just minutes, all that employee’s hard-working efforts were lost.

There’s nothing like a bad attitude to quietly derail your efforts to advance. Sometimes, no matter how much it galls you, you have to know when it’s best to just keep your mouth shut. If you feel yourself getting to that point, and we’ve all been there, don’t ruin your reputation on the job with an inappropriate or questionable display of conduct. Reign in those feelings. Take a walk. Call a sympathetic friend on your lunch hour and complain to them.

It doesn’t matter if you’re being treated unfairly or not. Nor is it relevant that you didn’t deserve the treatment you got, that your supervisor is terrorizing staff members, someone lied about you or to you, whatever. It doesn’t matter. What is important is showing the powers-that-be that you have a consistently professional attitude, one that can withstand sudden environmental stresses and if not evolve, at least maintain.

Don’t become a cautionary tale or the star of the infamous story told at every office function. Things will never run perfectly. Perfection doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work to get as close to it as is possible. There will always be someone who treats you unfairly or speaks to you in a way that you find objectionable. You can’t control what other people do, and trying to is a waste of time. You can, however, control your own actions and reactions.

If you have to bite the inside of your mouth until it bleeds, hold in that temper tantrum until you’re out of the office and can let it escape without fear of repercussions. Have contingency stress relief plans in place, particularly if you know you’re going to be dealing with someone who usually displays, shall we say, less than ideal behavior. You’ll thank me because there’s nothing harder to fix than a tarnished reputation. Bad behavior, even if it only happens once, can actually follow you from one job to the next. It’s a small, small, small world.

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