OMG, LOL!: 5 Communication Faux Pas You’re Making at Work

OMG, LOL!: 5 Communication Faux Pas You’re Making at Work
Updated on 11 March 2015

Is it okay to text in the office bathroom? Should you use emoticons in your cover letter? In this age of enhanced communication, it’s hard to avoid the occasional faux pas. Consider these five unfortunate souls whose poor communication etiquette undermined their professional authority.

Tia the Texter

Tia is a twenty-something working in a firm of baby boomers. She waltzes through life with her smartphone glued to her hand. At least, that’s how some of her superiors see it.

Image via Flickr by Alan Klim

About 50 percent of Terri’s co-workers roll their eyes when she hunches over her phone, thumbs flying a mile a minute. Tia’s texting euphemisms occasionally cross over to her work emails. She’s been known to throw out an LOL, OMG, and 😀 from time to time.

Plenty of baby boomers text now, but not all of them do. To those elders still separated by the digital divide, Tia looks like a positive flake.

Larry, the Low Self Esteem Guy

Larry feels uncomfortable when a potential employer asks, “Why are you the best candidate for this position?”

“I wouldn’t say I’m the best,” he stumbles. “I’m a nice guy, but my conscience won’t allow me to say I’m the best. If you want the best, you should hire someone from Harvard. I went to community college, and I didn’t even get straight A’s.”

Sam Shelley, a bi-polar survivor and author of the book I Don’t Dwell recently wrote a blog post for LinkedIn about interviewing while suffering from low self-esteem. Shelley says, you must behave “as if . . . you are the best person for the job” at a job interview, even if you don’t believe it.

Natalie, the Negative Emailer

Natalie’s boss recently loaded her down with an overwhelming amount of work.

As deadlines approach, Natalie panics. Instead of asking her boss for help, she complains to her co-workers about how unfairly he treats her. Some of these complaints find their way into email threads. Before Natalie knows it, her laundry list of grievances inadvertently lands in the boss’s inbox.

Emailing your frustrations to co-workers might bring temporary relief, but you should save the venting for your online journal, the one you protect with an encrypted password. It’s the one your boss will never see.

Gina, the Generic Resume Writer

Gina’s resume perfectly fits the generic template she found on the Internet. She’s sent the document to hundreds of potential employers, but her phone never rings.

Nick Corcodilos, a veteran headhunter in Silicon Valley, knows why. “Resumes are a weak, passive way of getting in the door,” he says. Instead of sending out resumes that look just like everyone else’s, Gina should craft a document that illustrates how she could improve life for a potential employer.

Corcodilos is talking about a pain letter, a type of cover letter in which potential hires explain how they could solve company problems. To write a persuasive pain letter, job seekers should place themselves in the shoes of the employer. Gina’s not a bad worker. She just needs a platform through which she can sell herself.

Connie, the Comma Criminal

Connie is a comma criminal. She admits that she doesn’t understand comma rules. She also admits that, in her mind, comma rules just aren’t that important.

Connie’s supervisor begs to differ. Run-on sentences make him cringe. If he gets another “Hey George good morning are we meeting in the board room at eight,” he’ll either go crazy or shell out the tuition for Connie’s enrollment in Remedial English 101.

Technology blurs the lines between our personal and professional lives. As we have seen, well-meaning people make embarrassing, funny, and horrendous communication mistakes all the time. Have you ever worked with a Tia, Larry, Natalie, Gina, or Connie?

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