Turn On Your Filter at Work
Do you work around people who feel obligated to freely share too many details of their personal lives to just about anyone with a pulse? Talking like this, without a filter, is a communication pitfall and can become a real problem, particularly if the person lacking a filter is the leader. In MAP’s recent book, The Disciplined Leader, we’ve devoted a number of chapters to topics on communication because great leadership depends on the ability to communicate effectively. Smart leaders understand and know when to turn their filter on at work. They know how to strike that balance between sharing too much and too little about their personal lives. And they know when it’s appropriate to share anything personal, such as their beliefs or opinions. Without a doubt, it’s important for leaders to be real and relate to co-workers and other professionals on a personal level at times. But Disciplined Leaders develop and practice solid communication habits and never let a mismanaged filter get the best of them.
Here are some prime examples of the kinds of talk that Disciplined Leaders learn to keep in check:
Personal drama. When you’re at work, your communications should center on work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share personal information, but think twice before you delve into the details about your having a few too many cocktails at the club last night, the family argument at Thanksgiving dinner, or all the inside scoop on the lawyer who took you to the cleaners. Save such stories and all their dramatic details for co-workers when you’re off the clock or, better yet, for the buddies you don’t work with at all.
Beliefs and opinions. A lot of people cross the line here, going from talking about what they personally feel or think to outright trying to brainwash or evangelize their co-workers. Whether it’s your beliefs or perspectives about race, religion, sex, gender, politics, social issues, etc., use your head, always assuming others may not agree nor want to hear a whole lot on these topics and issues. Unless they’re directly related to an event or a situation at work, there’s no reason to bring up your personal beliefs or use judgmental statements.
Bad language. Talking like a sailor may be your shtick outside the office, but it’s totally unprofessional in the workplace. Over the years, MAP has coached a number of company heads on this habit and found that when professionals routinely swear around others, these leaders often struggle to get ahead in their careers. Sure, they may be successful on some level, but they then find they’re running into barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential. Maybe they’re not being invited to participate in important meetings, or perhaps they’re not getting asked to speak at the industry conference. What’s going on? People feel embarrassed or are offended by their swearing, so they’re not including them or extending these critical opportunities to them. When these leaders learn to curb their bad language, however, doors tend to open that previously were closed.
How do you manage co-workers or direct reports who clearly have no filter?