5 Incredibly Stupid Things That Could Destroy Your Career - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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5 Incredibly Stupid Things That Could Destroy Your Career

Mar 10, 2015

5 Incredibly Stupid Things That Could Destroy Your Career 

'Yay the meeting got cancelled' I said in a WhatsApp message I sent to a friend. Except, of course, I blundered and sent it to my boss instead. I'm assuming he was not amused by my lack of enthusiasm for meetings (bosses take meetings pretty seriously I've noticed), and I can only hope he laughed it off, or brushed it off in mild annoyance.

As far as faux pas go, that one was quite mild (not my mildest, but my most recent). But I have heard some hair-raising stories about workplace gaffes. From the mildly embarrassing, to the laughably awkward, to the potentially career-stopping - here are 5 stupid things that can mess up your work life, and how to deal with them.

  1. Careless messaging: 'Damn You, Autocorrect'
  2. Nowadays, it is just too easy to make a communication mistake. There was a time when we would maybe say the wrong thing in a meeting, or address the wrong person in a letter.

    Nowadays, with a click of a button we're sending wrong emails to the wrong people, text messages are misdirected, WhatsApp is reading our minds, Twitter is telling the world how careless we are with every unnoticed autocorrect...

    Alia Bhatt recently tweeted that her mother 'ate the most beautiful human being I know'. She meant to type 'are' probably... but once out there her carelessness was out for the whole world to see, and was re-tweeted hundreds of times.

    Such mistakes are such a part of our lives now, that there is a whole website dedicated to mistakes we made in messages because of autocorrect, called DamnYouAutoCorrect.com.

    So what do you do when you end up making an embarrassing, or stupid communication mistake at work?

    If the communication is such that will elicit a laugh and joke, such as if 'Kind Regards' becomes 'Kind Retards', or let's do this immediately becomes 'let's do this intimately', deal with it with a laugh. Don't get annoyed or defensive if people tease you, make a couple of jokes yourself and laugh it off - your ears will burn with embarrassment for a few minutes but everyone makes typos and will understand.

  3. Gossiping: What goes around comes around
  4. On the other hand, if the email you sent could hurt someone and cause lasting damage for you at work, admit it and apologise.

    If you sent an email to your friend about your annoying co-worker Ravi, and poor Ravi accidentally got the email, this is a huge mistake but it can be fixed. You must approach him, apologise, and say that it won't happen again. And don't let it happen again.

    If you can take this one step further, you can use this to start a dialogue with Ravi about what annoys you, and maybe a lasting relationship can be created between you two.

    There is a never a good reason to gossip about someone, and if you must vent about your co-worker or boss, do it away from the office to a close friend, and in a way that can help you find solutions to your dilemma not just to be mean.

    Remember, everyone is connected, not just via the Internet but in person too. Anything you say at the office can and will come back and hurt you. So be positive, say positive things, and stay away from water cooler meanness.

  5. Lying: Don't end up in a Golmaal situation...
  6. You remember where Amol Palekar pretended to be Ram, a well-behaved, nerdy, hair-oiled person to get a job. And then when his boss saw him in his real avatar at a hockey match, he had to pretend he had a twin brother, Lakshman?

    Lies, even little ones, can snowball into enormously painful situations. And although they make for great comedy films, they are not recommended for real life. When you're late to work, or miss a meeting, the easiest thing to do is slip a little white lie. But stop before you have to start spinning them into elaborate webs of lies and you get caught living a double life like Ram and Lakshman.

  7. Ignoring Issues: 'It wasn't me'
  8. Sometimes when we don't want to take responsibility for something we think we can get away with simply ignoring it. We justify it by thinking, 'it's not my job anyways' or 'it's not that important anyways.' Worse, we think 'I don't want to bother someone else with this so I'll just leave it be.'

    But little things can matter - and sometimes these little things can turn into huge things that can stop you in your tracks.

    I once wrote an article where I saw that one of the links I had included in the article had not been included - I thought about going back to the production team, asking them to insert it, dealing with their irritation, going through the whole process of checking and approving again - seemed like too much effort for one link so I ignored it and thought, 'chal jayega, no big deal'.

    Imagine my shocking regret when an angry reader writes in to threaten to sue me for not providing a source for the information that I was giving! Ouch! I almost stopped my fledgling career in its tracks.

    So yeah, don't forget the little things. God is in the details, remember?

  9. Losing it: Showing emotion at work... NEVER a good idea
  10. Sometimes it feels like nothing is ever going to get done right until you lose your temper and yell a little - just for that added motivation. But although that might get one thing done faster or better - in the long run it will end up with you being stuck with the label of 'horrible boss'.

    That goes for other negative emotions too - do not lose even keel - whether you are sad or hurt, nervous or angry - if you can maintain an even keel, your value will rise and so will your position.

    Feel emotions, yes, vent certainly, don't bottle things up - but express your emotions away from the office so that you can come back each day equipped with a beatific smile and a rational demeanour.

    There are really just innumerable ways you can mess up on your way to career growth or success. Too many for me to even begin to list here. But it is not the mistake that matters, it is your reaction to it.

    Everyone makes mistakes, if you have the wherewithal to rectify your mistake, be patient with it, and turn it into an opportunity, you will prove yourself to be someone who can take the helm and keep the ship afloat in both calm seas and stormy - a quality of a good leader.

Image Source: Ollyy/Shutterstock


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6 Responses to "5 Incredibly Stupid Things That Could Destroy Your Career"

Hiren Bhatt

13 Mar, 2015

This is good article. its show "Zara Hatake" fever.

Prasant Kumar

11 Mar, 2015

Use of 'even keel' is correct here. And yes it's a borrowing from Nautical terms :)

Like (1)

Jai Narain

11 Mar, 2015

Certain things attract attention for petty mistakes but of lasting effect. If mistake is communicated, though rectified later on or tried to solve it by way of apology etc, leaves its impression on the boss. I shall immediately be assessed in his mind either as CASUAL, USELESS or something else. In Govt. working casual mistakes don't leave impact much but when matter involves decision making, then it has serious impact. Now mailing is on one touch and if some one miss the chance mistake will be posted. Previously matter was dictated, typed and draft corrected. When all steps completed then only letter was dispatched. It was time consuming. Now there is only one stage. I am regular reader of common Sense living,specially Thursday Threads. I appreciate the series which highlights small things of simple common sense having serious consequences.


11 Mar, 2015

Hey Ashish - I'm using the phrase 'even keel' as it is used to mean 'keep your balance' or 'maintain a calm demeanour'. The word is borrowed from a nautical term I believe. Thanks for letting me know though - I really appreciate this - and as you know after reading this I'm quite prone to mistakes :)

Ananda Rao

11 Mar, 2015

Admitting the mistake at the first opportunity, as my own experience, absolves repetition of mistakes. Mistakes per say are pardoned except in cases that look a crime. Mistake is unintentional but a crime is intentional - even criminal prosecutions are prolonged to determine whether it is an intentional crime or unintentional mistake. But certain unintentional mistakes are not pardoned by the nature. Say if a person touches a live electrical live wire with or without intention.

Ashish Desai

10 Mar, 2015

There seems to be a typo in 5.Losing it: Showing emotion at work... NEVER a good idea In the below paragraph the word "keel" is used.Which looks like a typo. That goes for other negative emotions too - do not lose even keel - whether you are sad or hurt, nervous or angry - if you can maintain an even keel, your value will rise and so will your position.


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