Watch what you say

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heiglAdmittedly, I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, nor do I pretend that I know the every move of Katherine Heigl. On a personal level, I don’t care all that much because I don’t know her. However, news items keep coming my way about a recent issue and I figured it’s worth discussing.

This article from LA Times sums it up nicely, but here’s the gist: Heigl was on Letterman and made the joke (depending on whom you ask) that a 17-hour day of filming  the show was grueling and she mentioned it because “I hope it embarrasses them.” She then went on to joke about only getting an hour lunch in the midst of these hard work days.

So then writer Ken Levine wrote a response on his blogsaying the schedule was the result of her demands and needs. I don’t know if Levine is privy to such information, so I don’t assume he’s telling the truth. Maybe she was joking and it just didn’t come off right. I don’t know.

But there are two lessons to learn here that don’t necessarily involve Heigl and Levine. Instead, these are lessons we could all learn from :

1. Be careful with your words.
We’ve probably all been in a situation where we made a joke and nobody laughed, or they laughed uncomfortably. People didn’t know if  you were being serious. People get offended or you come off as angry and unhappy. It’s not that you can’t joke or speak your mind sometimes, but speak carefully. And if you sense some uncertainty about what you’ve said, clarify it. Better to ruin a good joke by explaining it than find out a week later that the entire team thinks you hate your job and wish you were working somewhere else. ‘Cause, you know, they just might make that wish come true.

2. Vent privately.
Everyone’s entitled to get frustrated with their jobs now and then. You can complain to your family and friends at home. You can even gripe about the boss with your co-workers over a beer during happy hour. But you shouldn’t take an issue between you and your boss or team in front of other people.

From a selfish standpoint, nobody wants to hear about your problems. We’ve all got problems and for you to force everyone to listen to your frustrations comes off as whining. If we all shared our frustrations all the time, we’d never get any work done. Ever.

More importantly, going public with your issues damages the image of your team/company. The assumption is that if you can’t resolve the issue with your boss privately, then everyone must be in constant friction. The boss can’t keep his or her employees under control; the employees are brats. And right now, when plenty of job seekers would be happy to take your place, it seems silly to damage your reputation like that.

If the issue gets too big for just you and the boss, go to HR or whatever other channels are available to you. Trash talking your employer (aka biting the hand that feeds you) will make it that much harder to find work elsewhere. Who’s going to give a recommendation to the sourpuss employee?

So whatever the case is with this TV drama, who knows? But we can learn a lesson from this ongoing soap opera.

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