When you think of the kind of language that shouldn’t be used in the workplace, most people will think of swear words and sexist language as the two categories that I am referring to. However, there are equally intrusive and negative words and questions in the workplace that often go unnoticed because they are used so often and the effects aren’t necessarily immediately noticed.
Here are some questions and comments that need to be avoided both in the workplace and in your personal life:
1. Are you still (fill in the blank)?
When you ask people if they are “still” dating someone, working somewhere, working on something, it casts either a feeling of doubt or distrust in the person you are asking.
2. What are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to be (fill in the blank)
I hear this a lot when people unexpectedly see someone. Instead of asking this kind of invasive questions, welcome seeing the person and be pleasantly surprised.
3. Why are you here? Are you not working at (insert job here) anymore?
As a consultant, I hear this a lot from fellow consultants when people see them out around town in the middle of the day during the week. I find this lacks any kind of thought or purpose other than to try to create dialogue where no dialogue needs to be created.
Next time you decide to interrogate one of your co-workers, friends, or colleagues with one of the questions above, think of the ramifications and what it is you actually are trying to find out.