When what you say is something you should not have said. It happens, from time to time in the workplace that we say things we shouldn’t say. We don’t mean to do it, but it happens. There are two types of mistakes, the wrong joke and when frustrated saying something. The reality of the world today is that both are considered (and should be). Jokes must consider the impact and the audience. Words hurt despite the old adage about sticks and stones.
What you say can have a huge impact on someone. For example, there are many different ways to offend someone in a non-politically correct environment. Dismissing ideas because you know the right one is a big one that you have to be careful of as a professional. By the way, this one is the one that you really have to be careful of as a mentor and a teacher. Ideas come every once in a while for some people crushing them is a bad idea.
So the first one is approaching it from the reality of I AM RIGHT. Be careful when you come into the room with this attitude. You will say something you don’t mean or worse you say something you didn’t realize.
The second one is labeling. Lumping someone you are speaking with into a group or a type. Never say out loud “I’ve worked with people like you before” as a statement on its own. If you end it with “and it was the best time ever, or we had a blast,” saying that line is ok. Just saying that line is one of those hostile workplace lines. Making it really hard to be where you are because frankly that line is really bad.
A third one is a pedantic this is how you do something approach. That’s fine, if you are right. But if the person looks at the solution differently, and you call what they say BS, you crossed a line. It’s important to remember that effectively we as human beings are measured as much by what we do as what we say. How and when we say things impacts the people around us.
Now the easy fix for any of these is to own it, apologize and try to offer reparations. You may never be able to fix what you broke but at least form an ownership perspective you may not create a bigger problem with HR or other internal groups. Creating a hostile workplace by talking to other people about someone, saying or doing the three things listed, or creating an environment where the person cannot succeed will ultimately end badly.
No business on this planet. No government group. No organization on this planet exists without the people that make it. If you forget how you got where you are, and how you got there, you end up doomed anyway.
Remember to treat everyone on your team as a treasure. If they don’t produce what you want, talk to them about what you are looking for. If they disagree, think about what they are saying. In some cases they may be right.