You never know when you’re going to need some friendly help or support, writes J.T. O’Donnell, career strategist and workplace consultant. She suggests keeping the peace with your co-workers by avoiding the following potentially offensive questions:
1. Who’s texting you? Prying into a colleague’s personal life can cause her to feel embarrassment and resentment, especially if your curiosity draws attention from others. If you have a good reason for meddling, such as genuine concern for that person’s well-being, a better question to ask is, “Is everything OK?”
2. Why are you so dressed up today? When someone who normally dresses business casual comes in wearing a suit, the natural assumption is that she’s going to an interview. It’s best not to draw attention to the matter.
3. What did you think of that meeting? This can open the door for a negative conversation that will likely devolve into personal attacks of. Don’t be that person. People won’t want to turn their backs on you if they think you are judgmental.
4. Will you cover for me? This essentially asks someone to lie to her boss, and it opens the door for all kinds of assumptions and questions about your character.
5. Can you tell the boss I’m better for the job than ______? Asking someone to criticize someone else to make you look good diminishes your professional credibility. You should be able to advance through your own merits instead of the shortcomings of others. Instead, ask for a recommendation from your friend; it builds you up without tearing anyone else down.
Remember to think before you speak. Small gestures can affect the integrity of long-term working relationships.
— Adapted from "5 Things To Never Say To A Co-Worker," by J.T. O’Donnell, AOLjobs.com.