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When To Keep Your Mouth Shut In The Office

Just zip it.
PHOTO: Nick Onken

While being assertive and opinionated are values we encourage and admire, there are definitely moments when you should just zip it. Ahead are some situations when speaking up might not be the best idea:

1. When you're already pissed

Even the best, most collaborative teams have bad days. You're bound to find someone annoying—yes, even your work BFF—and it might not even be his or her fault. Whatever it may be, it's never a good idea to snap or blow up at someone. When your emotions are running high, you end up saying things you (almost immediately) regret. So the next time someone pisses you off, step back, gather yourself, and address the situation respectfully.

2. When you feel like yelling at someone who made a mistake

The best part about being part of a team is that you get to bond and succeed together. But it also means that you sometimes fail together. And even if you do everything you can to avoid mistakes, they really do just happen. It's normal, and it's human. And more often than not, the person who dropped the ball probably feels shitty enough. Berating your teammate keeps you from finding a solution and moving on. Besides, you've probably made mistakes of your own, right?

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3. When you want to make an excuse

On the other hand, if you're the one who made a mistake, whether it's forgetting about a specific task or missing a deadline, just apologize and offer a solution. Even if you were waiting on other people, you need to accept responsibility for not being able to deliver on what was assigned to you. Provide an explanation, but not an excuse.

4. When your boss has made up his or her mind

Unless you're working for Miranda Priestley, your boss probably values your input. But when he or she decides to go another route, it doesn't matter how much better you think your idea is—just accept it. Forcing your pitch, despite the final decision, will make you seem insubordinate and frankly, obnoxious. 

5. When your coworker confides in you

Do not break that trust, even if you think your boss should know about what he or she is going through. It's not up to you. All you can do is encourage your teammate to be more proactive about the situation. 

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