Here are some tips about when it’s best to keep things to yourself:
1. Trust your gut. If you think something you are about to say is going to be poorly received and will reflect negatively on you, follow your instincts and don’t say it. Listen to your inner voice.
2. Know someone is about to be fired? Don’t share it. It’s tempting to give someone the heads-up if you have knowledge about a pending layoff, but don’t do it. Sharing confidential information — “Hey did you hear who is getting fired?” — can lead to your exit because you violated a policy of confidentiality. Leaking confidential information is a true violation of trust that an employer places in you.
3. If you are making plans to quit your job, it is best to wait until you have a solid plan you intend to follow through with before you share that information at work. Your employer is rarely the best person to coach you on career moves, especially when it involves your departure from the company. As soon as an employer hears you might be leaving, he will begin looking for your replacement, and if you decide to stay, you will never be viewed as the loyal “company” person you once were.
4. As tempting as it might be, don’t talk with co-workers about a raise or bonus you’ve received. That is confidential information that should be kept to yourself. If you are happy about the amount of your salary increase, thank your boss. If you are unhappy and feel you should have gotten more, let your boss know, but don’t do an informal survey about everyone else’s raise and use that information in your discussion about your compensation concerns.
5. If you ever find yourself getting angry about a decision that has been made, make sure to take a breather before speaking your mind. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone introduces a new program or policy that you think is outrageous? Have you felt your face start to get red, your blood pressure rise, you can’t sit still in your chair and all you can think about is how much you would like to throw something across the room at them? These are all warning signs that it’s time to take time out. If you become angry, you need to take time to calm down and get a grip. Sometimes it helps to write down all of the reasons you disagree with the decision or the policy, go for a walk and make yourself wait 24 hours before responding. This gives plenty of time for the anger to subside so that you can communicate rationally and respectfully.
6. Don’t participate in gossip. When you gossip with others, people wonder what you say about them when they are not around.
7. Never vent to co-workers about your crazy boss or your company’s demanding culture. If you have negative things to get off your mind, talk to someone outside of the company who has no association whatsoever. If the issue is causing real problems for you, go to a counselor or a coach to get it off of your mind and help you sort out a solution.
8. Never resign out of anger. If you find yourself wanting to quit your job on the spot, give yourself time to think about the situation and understand why it is so upsetting. Don’t come unglued and start launching into a rage at work. Remember the saying “You are always remembered by your final act.” How we exit an organization is just as important as how we make our entrance.
9. Silence can be an effective tool. One person I spoke with talked about how her boss constantly checks e-mail and text messages while in meetings. This behavior leaves her feeling as if she’s not important. “My boss uses his iPhone so often he is able to blind type on it. He is only half listening to what is going on in the meeting.” This is a good time to remain silent and stop talking until the person realizes that you are not going to carry on unless you have his full attention.
10. If you feel like a “tattletale” at work, chances are that is how you are coming across. If it isn’t constructive information — “mum’s the word.”