3 ways to avoid turkey behavior at work

by | Nov 26, 2014 | Blog | 0 comments

turkeysWith the season of appreciation, giving and year-end reflection in full swing, it’s more humane to honor turkeys, not ridicule them.

However, we can learn a lot from humans’ “turkey behavior”—a popular slang term from a generation ago. According to the Urban Dictionary, turkeys are losers; people who are out of step with current culture and slang. They’re generally uncool.

In the work world, human turkeys are also in their own world in how they interact with others.

Their insensitive, boorish and thoughtless behavior hurts feelings, working relationships and personal performance.

Just consider these examples of turkey behavior observed over the past few weeks. As usual, identities are hidden to protect the guilty.

  • Turkey #1: The boss who checks email while conducting one-on-one performance reviews with his staff members. Talk about being disrespectful! And multi-tasking on top of it!
  • Turkey #2: The lawyer who asks loudly during a networking event if one of the individuals there is part of a sensitive and private legal case. Where is this lawyer’s sense of privacy and decency?
  • Turkey #3: The office manager who schedules a day-and-a-half “morale boosting” training for his staff during Thanksgiving week as a way to alleviate all the challenges the office staff members have been facing. What about recognizing those employees and their families may want to get away and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday?

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, as one of my clients likes to say.

Agree! And there are no excuses for turkey behavior!

With easy access to so much information these days, you can quickly check before trying out a new behavior that others may find questionable.

Here are three simple ways to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of adopting turkey behaviors:

  1. Vet your idea first with a trusted co-worker.
  2. Do an internet search, either using office etiquette or a description of what you’re planning to do.
  3. Ask your mother or a respected family member for a second opinion.

It doesn’t take long to confirm whether the action you’re contemplating is acceptable or not. Of course, knowing what NOT to do and avoiding it are two different things.

Even if you are in a position of authority, keep in mind you could be accused of abusing your power with your turkey behavior.

Human turkeys may persuade people to pitch in and follow their lead, but they won’t engage others’ hearts and minds. And turkeys certainly won’t build any credibility and trust.

And do you really want to be known as a turkey?

Wouldn’t it be better to be appreciated for the positive impact you have on people at work?

Nonetheless, the number of human turkeys out there is probably greater than we’d like it to be.

So please feel free to share your turkey horror stories to try to keep the human turkey population in check.


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