Your day starts perfect! You made the most delicious cup of coffee in your Keurig K525C. Your mate saved you a little hot water, and you just so happened to finish all of the laundry so you have your choice of shirts to wear today. You chose your favorite shirt that hides that early thirties metabolism decline. You primp and powder and you are off to the races.
You start your car and look at that, a full tank of gas! Connect your phone and you guessed it, your favorite song is ready to rock out. The sun is shining and there is something in the air that makes you feel hopeful and happy. Even though it’s early, you decide to let your window down so the wind can kiss your hair. Today will be a good day. You have several meetings, but you are confident that they will all go as expected. You like your job and are grateful for the opportunities you have created for yourself.
You pull your car into the parking lot at work and there they are. The person who did not have a good morning...the person who never has a good morning! The person who always knows who said what to whom and why. The person with the latest updates on everyone’s personal life and work life. The person you can and should stay away from…a Talker. While they seem to have a charismatic personality, and they always give you a good chuckle, Talkers can be cancerous to your career!
You look down to gather your things as they walk toward the building. You are sure to thoroughly check that you didn’t leave anything behind. You glance up to find that you have been spotted so you duck under your seat…hoping the Talker understands that you lost something very important and don’t have time to chat. You sigh with relief as you poke your head up to find that they have entered the building. Now that you are no longer in danger of hearing about how much they hate their spouse, their job, their kids, or their boss you pick up the pace and dash inside.
You hum the tune to the song you last heard in the car and walk to your desk with an energetic gait. You unpack your laptop to boot up for the day and you hear their voice, “Good morning!” While their tone is chipper, you know that they can’t wait for you to ask the question that invites them to spew their sticky icky negativity all over you and your sunshiny day… “how’s it going?”
It is tempting to engage in salacious conversation a Talker has to offer. They often say things that are outrageous. Vomiting thoughts that you wouldn’t dare speak in the work place. Talkers are never afraid to speak their minds and on some level you admire that…but that’s the hook. You admire the Talker for always being honest. However, Talkers are some of the most deceptive people you will encounter in the work place.
Talkers love attention and they know that if you are giving them your attention that you are not focused on the tasks you have planned for the day. Talkers have no consideration for your time management or productivity. They saunter into your office or cubicle with the latest gossip; careful not to allow you the opportunity to disengage. Talkers know what you want. They can see your ambition and they know that they can lure you into their pit of complacency by offering you the smallest kernel of information that makes you feel like you’re in the know.
Talkers disarm you so that you will then be enchanted by their confidence in you. After all, they trust you with everyone’s secrets you were never supposed to hear. Talkers bate you and once you feel comfortable that they are a good friend, you become a victim of their talking. You tell them about your hopes and fears and insecurities. You tell them about your ambitions and ask for their advice on the feedback your manager gave you. You trust them to be honest and they will be. They will be honest when they use the information you gave them to leverage their position in the organization.
Talkers want you to complain. They want you to miss promotion opportunities. They want you to become an obstacle to progress within the company. Talkers make it their mission to maintain the status quo. If they are successful, they are set for their entire career. They can stay in an organization as long as they like without improving, changing, or contributing. What a life!
5 Ways to Avoid the trap of the Talkers:
Don’t engage them in the first place- No matter how popular the Talker is…even if they seem to have the boss’s ear, they cannot hurt you if they have no information about you. Find people within your organization who are of like mind and appear to behave as you do. If you are hard- working and action oriented. Find people who are also hard-working and action oriented.
Do not accept secrets at work- Secrets can be dangerous in your personal life and absolutely toxic to your professional life. When someone tells you something you cannot repeat, not only do you have to use brain power to remember not to repeat it; you have no idea what kind of compromising positon this secret will cause you in the future. Secrets are often distracting, especially when you know something negative about a person who is being rewarded. It can make you feel jaded and lower your overall morale. Additionally, there is something in our DNA that feels the need to reciprocate confidence. We think, “Wow, they really trust me. I should trust them too.” No! No! No! As they say in the south, “A dog who will bring a bone, will take a bone.”
Stay on message- Like a political campaign, your career is a long interview in which you are striving to achieve the highest office possible. That office may be CEO, Director, Regional VP, whatever your heart desires. You are working every day to prove you deserve that office. That makes all your actions important. You are creating a brand, that is you. If you want your brand to be excellence and success, you have to stay on message. Walk, talk, and be excellent. Have lunch with people who are excellent. Get a mentor who is excellent. Confide in people who can teach you excellence. Most importantly, say things that lead to excellence and success.
Take a break- Everyday will not be roses. We will all have bad days. It is important that you take a break when you are having a bad day. Turn off your phone, close your office door, or go to the rest room. Do something to stop the negative feelings before you stumble into a Talker. A bad moment is not a bad attitude. Protect your attitude by taking a break and refocusing on all the things that did go well, no matter how small.
Be Pro-company- Companies and organizations will not be successful if employees do not challenge the status quo or critique new initiatives. However, the onus is on the employee to understand the mission and vision of the company and offer criticism in a way that is focused on organizational improvement. Employees should be genuinely invested in their company and strive to preserve the company culture that is desired by the leaders of the company. That means, no talking trash about the company without pushing for a better solution. This is Talker kryptonite!