The Walls Have Ears

You may be surprised to learn that the number of staff working each day to advance the conservative movement is small.  In Washington, D.C., it’s a few thousand at most.

This is great for your career!  Working in the small DC conservative movement, it is easy to get to know the influential players who can support your career advancement.  But reputations are made very quickly, and for those less savvy who don’t mature quickly, simple mistakes can be destructive.

One of the worst mistakes anyone can make in Washington, D.C. is to bad mouth their boss or their organization.

You can avoid these three common mistakes.

  1. Speaking badly of your employer on social media

It is surprising how frequently profe ssionals will speak negatively of their bosses on social media.  Remember that not only will this be seen by colleagues, and very likely your employers, but your future employers will read your social media.  Ranting about your boss today could risk alienating your potential boss tomorrow.  After all, no one wants to hire someone who may badmouth them in future.

  1. Speaking badly of your employer during an interview

“What did you like least about your last job?”  We’ve all been asked this question during an interview, and I have struggled to answer.  By falling into the trap of badmouthing your former boss, you convince the interviewer that they may be the next target of your public scorning or worst case scenario, your last boss may hear about it.  

Instead, you should answer the question by saying: “While there were many aspects of my previous job which I enjoyed such as…, I would have liked to have had more of an opportunity to… which is why I have applied for this job.”

  1. Speaking badly of your employer during networking events

We’ve all been there.  It’s been a rough day, perhaps you have been frustrated by your supervisor, but there is a time and a place to complain about your work, and it’s not at networking events.

You run the risk of alienating conservatives who may know your boss.  In the worst case scenario, your comments could get back to your employer, and your career will suffer. 

So what should you do instead?

There is a time and a place to address your concerns at work.  So instead of complaining about your boss, consider how you can constructively approach the situation. 

  1. Ask for a private meeting

Never criticize your boss in front of colleagues. It will damage their authority in front of the team and is more likely to frustrate them than anything.  Have your conversation in private if you believe your boss should be taking a different approach to a project. 

 

  1. Know what you want to say

Consider writing down your specific concerns and what you want to say in advance.   Structure your feedback positively, instead of “I don’t agree with your decision…” say “I think we could consider approaching the project this way…”  If your boss agrees with you, then great!  If not, respect their decision.  Ultimately it’s their call.

  1. Ask a mentor

If you find you do need to express serious concerns about your employer, find someone you can trust to give you sound advice and keep it confidential.  This person is perhaps a close friend or family member, or another professional who exercises sound judgment.  Use them to guide you in your decision making.

  1. Know your organization’s procedures

In the worst case scenario, where you feel mistreated, figure out your organization's formal complaints process and use it.   

Your relationship with your employers, past and present, can be a positive one if you maintain your professionalism.  By keeping your employers on your side, you can rely on strong references, potentially great mentors, and a support base for your career in the conservative movement.