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9 Behaviors That Will Kill Your Credibility In Meetings

9 Behaviors That Will Kill Your Credibility In Meetings

Whether you view them as essential to productivity or a complete waste of time, in the business world, meetings are here to stay and your behavior when attending them can serve to showcase your worth or undermine your credibility. Here are 9 actions to avoid in all meetings.

1. Using Phrases That Imply Deception

Avoid phrases like “to be honest” or “let me be honest with you” as they imply two rather negative messages to your audience, the first is that you haven’t been honest until this point and the second is that as you are so eager to assure everyone of your honesty, you are probably not being completely truthful. These phrases make you sound disingenuous and can derail your overall message.

2. The Hard Sell

Meetings are a time for open, honest discussion, meant to drive a project forward, they are not an appropriate venue for hard sell techniques. It would be wise to avoid being pushy or trying to force your agenda by distorting the facts or exaggerating the importance of your point.

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3. The Excessive Use of Buzz Words

Every industry has its own unique vocabulary of buzz words, popular jargon that exists within a specific context. These words are typically used as a crutch in business meetings and while some may feel that their use may makes them appear knowledgeable, most listeners see through them clearly.

Try to avoid such overused terms as synergy, proactive, value-added, leverage, agile, growth hacker etc…

4. Being Unnecessarily Vague

Sometimes, to avoid committing to something, it might seem attractive to present your ideas in an overly vague manner. Don’t be afraid to commit yourself in a meeting by outlining the exact, actionable specifics of your plan or idea.

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5. Using Inappropriate Humor

There is no quicker to destroy your credibility than to introduce some inappropriate humor at your next business meeting. We might think that a slightly off-color joke could help to lighten the mood and make us for likable, however, the end result is almost always the exact opposite, the offending of our coworkers and the destroying of our professional image.

Avoid jokes of a racial, sexual or religious nature.

6. Interrupting Others

Allow everyone their opportunity to speak and to completely express their thoughts, uninterrupted. By extending this courtesy to others, they will be more likely to extend it to you and allow you to fully put forth your ideas. Don’t take the attitude that interrupting others makes you appear to your superiors as a dominant worker. Your boss will appreciate your ability to work well in a team environment.

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7. Failure to Take Responsibility

Everyone hates the guy that is first in line when praise is being handed out but nowhere to be found when something goes wrong. Take responsibility for the work that you do, even when that work is subject to criticism.

Avoid putting the blame on others or throwing a team member under the bus. Learn to take responsibility for your actions and accept feedback gracefully, standing behind your work and the other members of your team.

8. Over-promising

Be realistic about exactly what you can deliver and do not over-promise when you are feel that you are under pressure. Even though overstating your abilities may make you look good in the immediate term, it will hurt you in the long run as you fail to deliver on your promises.

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Take an honest evaluation of the work in front of you and give an honest estimate of the time and budget that will be required to deliver.

9. Looking at Your Phone

Keep your phone in your pocket. Everyone in the room is busy, however, the very point of meeting in person is to focus the team’s attention on the tasks at hand. Avoid checking your emails or messages while you are in a meeting or you risk appearing inattentive.

 

Avoid these common meeting pitfalls and maintain your business credibility.

Featured photo credit: le temple du chemisier via flickr.com

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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