6 etiquette blunders that can slip off the tongue

ManagementAs a manager you’ve been warned that people are always watching.

So no matter how gifted your operational skills, you don’t want to lose respect by making etiquette blunders that offend – or worse.

Here are six things that can roll off a manager’s tongue before the brain can stop them.

No offense, but …”

If anyone has to start a sentence with, “No offense …” then the sentence should end immediately. If not, what’s said next will certainly offend. Other similar phrases to avoid:

I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but … But you can bet it will!

You're Fired!
Is it OK to … If someone has to ask, it’s probably not OK.

An insult or something that will offend another person cannot be take back or softened by a disclaimer. If you can’t say something good, don’t’ say anything.

When are you due?

Similar questions to avoid include:

  • This must be your mother, right?
  • You don’t look well. Have you been sick?
  • Is that your son?

Asking certain personal questions based on an assumption can go terribly wrong, and you’re not always sure when. What if she’s not pregnant – she just gained weight? What if it’s his new girlfriend – not his mother?

Instead, managers want to ease into these sort of personal encounters. When you can, let them do the introductions, or offer up information.

You smell!

From time to time, managers must have sensitive conversations with employees about personal hygiene – on anything from body odor and poor eating habits to bad breath. These conversations are uncomfortable for everyone. That’s why it’s critical to choose the right words.

One of the best ways managers can approach these subjects is with a concern for the employee’s professional career.

Example: “I’m concerned that your personal hygiene habits may interfere with your ability to succeed here. Let’s talk about how we can fix that.”

I have the worst stomach …

Bodily functions and intricate medical details are best left outside the building. Often the people overhearing these details, but not directly in the conversation, are cringing or gagging.

I’ll friend you

Online communities – Facebook, Twitter and social blogs – can be hazardous places for managers and employees to hang out together.

Social media can create more problems then it’s worth when it comes to manager-employee relations..

Bottom line: If managers must get involved in social media with colleagues, it should be on professional sites, such as LinkedIn, and interactions should stay professional.

My girlfriend/spouse broke up with me

Matters of the heart are best left to be discussed with family and friends, not colleagues and employees.

It’s wise to avoid delving deeply into relationship discussions at work, especially when it involves broken hearts.

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