Miscommunication

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about cursing being connected with talking about the boss:

I was talking in the hallway and my boss over a conversation in which I cursed and said her name in the same sentence. Now I think, she thinks I said it to her. What can I do?

Signed, Cursed

Dear Cursed:

What did you say that combined a curse with your boss’ name? Why were you cursing and also speaking of your boss? These two unanswered questions cause me to ask a related question: Do you gossip and are you one who curses things about your job? Perhaps you do neither; however, the fact that you are now worried that your boss might think you said something about her prompts such questions.

Might the big lesson that springs from this incident is: don’t do either? Such a “don’t” will free you in the future from worry. Unfortunately workplace conversation often curses aspects of our work and disparages bosses and coworkers. Can you remedy what you imply is a false impression that your boss might now have? Possibly she heard neither the curse nor her name. You can go about your job never mentioning and this worry will fade from your memory. Yet I suspect it will surface every time you see your boss frown or look too closely at what you are doing. Therefore, you may want to do more that bite your tongue in the future, such as apologizing to her.

Tell her you are embarrassed that she might have heard you curse. Tell her that she also might have heard you mention her name in the same sentence. Don’t smooth it over with a lie; that will make things worse. If you were frustrated, say why. Admit it if you sometimes curse rather than speaking constructively. Tell her you are determined to rid your self of that failing.Does this make sense? Are there other alternatives? One that remains is to wait until your boss does an evaluation of your work. At that time you will learn if your boss has something that triggers this topic. Then you can explain that you’ve worried she might have heard you curse and mention her name in the same sentence.

This is a time to say you have cut down on cursing and talking about other people; that now you will say what needs to be said directly to them. I will be interested in how you respond to these thoughts. Read just a few of the thousands of Q&As in our archive and you will realize that this incident is not a big deal compared to the other problems that occur in the workplace. The important lesson from this is more than cursing or not cursing. So lighten up. Don’t curse your self over this incident. Today, brighten someone’s day. Commit yourself to doing all you reasonably can to make your workplace one that is friendly and productive: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and you won’t go wrong when you do that.

William Gorden