Gaffes, goofs and other bone-headed career moves

Admit it. We’ve all stepped in it at some time during our careers. Maybe we had a few too many drinks at a party or blurted something out without thinking. Here are some gaffes, goofs and other bone-headed moves you can only hope you never make:
Drunk emailing
Nothing about this is a good idea. A colleague came home from work furious about something her boss said that day. The more she thought about it the angrier she became. After several glasses of wine fueled her emotions she decided she would let him know how she felt once and for all. Unfortunately, she didn’t just write it and save it in a safe folder until she could review it when she was sober. She sent it. And that’s just what her boss did after he got it—sent her right out the door.
Hitting “Reply all”.
It’s such a convenient little click—and when you are in a hurry it’s an efficient way to send everyone the same message. Unless of course you really only intended your snarky reply to go to the original sender and not to her boss and boss’s boss on the cc line of her email. Yikes!
Thinking you pressed “Mute” during a conference call.
Sooo you say it didn’t go over well when the customer heard you say, “Is he out of his mind? We’re not going to do that!” while you thought you had your finger safely pressed on the mute button. Good luck trying to smooth your way out of that one.
Failing to hang up the phone.
This is the evil twin of missing the mute, above. A friend of mine told me a “this-didn’t-really-happen-did-it?” experience involving her sister-in-law, who overheard my friend complain long and loud about her after she thought she had hung up. Their relationship will never recover.
Being too truthful during an interview.
There could be an entire column on this category alone. Overly truthful comments I’ve heard about include: “I don’t have that many talents but I like to dance.” “My boss and I had an affair.” “My boss was going to fire me for poor performance.” Need I say more?
Unwittingly criticizing a peer’s friend/spouse.
Picture yourself at a professional organization having an animated conversation with some new people you just met. Someone makes a comment about a peer of theirs from work. You’ve worked with him before and felt he was a slacker—and you say so. Unfortunately the person standing next to you says, “That’s interesting…he’s my husband.”
Acting stupid at a company party.
You may be a natural born leader but when you took the lead at the company picnic to organize an impromptu shot drinking competition it wasn’t your brightest moment. The mock strip tease that followed will go down in company lore, never to be forgotten.
Assuming someone is pregnant.
Someone-who-will-not-be-named once asked a neighbor, “So when are you due?” Her dear neighbor looked crushed as she replied, “I had my baby six months ago.” (She eventually did forgive me after several mortified apologies.)
There are some common themes aren’t there?
  • For starters know your limit and stick to it when alcohol is involved. If you get loose lipped after one glass of wine, don’t have any at all.
  • Always check your recipients before you hit send.
  • Never drink and type.
  • And don’t live by the adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, sit next to me.”

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.