A Common Workplace Mistake Considerate People Never Make

It’s ok to make a workplace mistake once in a while, but the one I am about to describe is a big no-no. And it’s a costly blunder no respected employee can afford to make.  

Making this kind of mistake sends the wrong message about you. It tells your co-workers that you are not a thoughtful and considerate colleague, although you are smart.

Do you want this kind of stain on your reputation? I am guessing you don’t.  

What’s more, this bad mistake will give you more enemies and distractors than allies. You don’t want that either. Do you?

So, you must be thinking, “But what workplace mistake are you referring to?”  

There you have it: Inferring other people’s motives. Really? 

Yes, this is where many people run into trouble at work and in life in general

As the author of The Abundant Community Peter Block said, “The act of inferring the motives for another person’s behavior is an aggressive stance and always leads to defensiveness on that person’s part.”

Here’s the issue with this workplace mistake.


Your colleagues don’t want you to be their mind reader. They need no one to put thoughts in their mind either. In other words, they are able to put their thoughts into words to explain their actions and statements.

For example, Criss Jami the author of Killosophy said, “The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.”  

The point is, inventing a motive for someone’s else action or statement is a tricky business and disrespectful at best.

To sum up, like many considerate professionals, you can avoid putting words in people’s mouth by using these 3 simple strategies. 

  • Practice active listening.
  • Ask clarifying and follow-up questions.
  • Allow your colleagues to explain their thoughts, actions― and inactions. 

After all, you want to be thoughtful and considerate. Don’t you?  

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PS: A few posts that you might have missed:

The coach
Coach Teddy Edouard is a lifelong learner, public speaker, writer, blogger and vlogger. He is the founder of Coaching for Better Learning, where he helps people and institutions build systems that lead to lasting improvement, growth, and success. He also teaches professionals how to protect their careers and use artificial intelligence (AI) as a career improvement ally.

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