DEAR HARRIETTE: I was working on an intense project recently, and after a while, everybody got pretty testy, mainly because of the long hours and the lack of sleep or breaks. One of the members of the team, who has worked on this job for many years, has a short fuse; he started grumbling about the work conditions. He was pretty harmless -- mostly just letting off steam -- but it got back to the big boss, who was very upset. My co-worker apologized, but he continued to grumble about things in private while we were still at the work site. He didn’t seem to understand that he should keep his thoughts to himself until he was safely away from the job. How can I impress that upon him? He’s a nice guy and a hard worker, but I fear he will lose his job if he keeps this up. -- Shut Your Mouth
DEAR SHUT YOUR MOUTH: I worked on a project once with a high-level businessman, Earl G. Graves, founder of Black Enterprise. I was a young professional, and he entrusted me with supporting him on an important project. One day after a productive meeting, we were in an elevator leaving the building when I began to talk about how great I thought the meeting went. Immediately, he turned to me and said, “Wait until we clear the building.” When we got outside, he told me that you should never debrief in any way, including to say nice things, until you are completely off-site and out of earshot of your client. I never forgot that.
Tell your friend that if he wants to be successful, he must learn to be mum when silence is called for. That especially includes tense times when in the company of the boss!