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OWNER'S MANUAL

8 Tacky Business Moves to Avoid

Don't be that person. Seriously.
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Some of these moves are just plain rude. Others are real reputation-killers. Don't be caught making any of them:

1. Your significant other publicly criticizes employees, customers, or vendors. No matter how justified, no matter how right, they don’t work there. They have no right.

It always without exception sounds horrible.

In fact it sounds something like this.

(Go ahead and watch. I'll wait.)

Told you.

2. You sell an item that was a gift. Say you write a popular tech blog. A manufacturer gives you a tablet in hopes you’ll review it on your blog. It’s a gift. It’s yours to do with as you please.

If you don’t want it, now or later, give it back. Or donate it to charity. Just don’t sell it. That’s tacky.

3. You ask for a favor and then describe how the favor should be performed. When you ask someone to help you, describe what you need. If he agrees let him help you—on his terms.

It sucks to say yes only to find out that 10 more conditions also apply. (Which is why, “Hey, do you have any free time tomorrow?” should always be followed by, “Maybe… what do you need?”)

Beggars can’t be post-agreement choosers.

4. You don't stay to the end when you’re given tickets to an event. Providing tickets to sports games, concerts, etc. are a time-honored customer relationship tradition. Even if the game is a blowout, half the crowd is gone, the players have lost interest, and your “host” isn’t even there, stay until it’s over.

Anything less shows you really didn’t appreciate the gesture.

5. You—however mildly—criticize a nice gesture. I once wrote a review for a person at their request. I posted it. The next day she emailed me. “Could you change a few of the words in your review? You used ‘great’ three times. Change two to ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’?”

Um, no, I can’t. Forget I used "great" three times in the same sentence on purpose because I liked the rhythm. It was an awesome review. Why quibble?

Don’t try to turn someone else’s nice gesture into something even nicer. Just say thanks.

6. You interview someone’s friend as a courtesy. Throwing someone a bone usually means someone gets hurt. If the friend does not otherwise deserve an interview, don’t go through the motions.

7. You commit a lunchtime assault. Your perfume or cologne should never precede you; neither should your lunch.  Save the fragrant leftovers for home. The only time anyone should ever know what you’re having for lunch is if they ask.

8. You do something at the office party you wouldn’t do at work. Okay, you can have a drink even though you (I’m guessing?) wouldn’t have one at work.

Still, work parties, picnics, or outings are an extension of work. They aren’t Vegas. What you say and do at the office party doesn’t stay at the office party—everyone remembers, often in the form of legend.

And then you’re that girl.

Don’t be that girl.

What's on your list of tacky business moves?

Last updated: Feb 10, 2012

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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