TCG 411: Get A Gatekeeper

Say What?!

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

Every workplace has its unique lingo, but some things should never be said around your colleagues. I’m sometimes surprised by the things I hear let slip from the mouths of people I consider to be the epitome of poise and professionalism. Whether it’s someone making an excuse or unreasonable demand, it can be off-putting – not to mention career-limiting – to make certain claims on the job.

Following are four phrases that crop up in creative departments that are in your best interest to avoid:

  1. “Actually, boss, you have no idea what you’re talking about.” Few creative directors want to surround themselves with yes-men, so offering a different viewpoint is often encouraged. But there is a time and place for everything. Never disagree with your boss during meetings with senior executives, presentations with key clients or other situations where you risk making your supervisor – and the company – look bad. If your opinion differs from your boss’s, discuss the matter in a one-on-one meeting that allows for candid commentary.
  2. “I have no interest in learning XYZ.” Continually adding to your skill set is necessary in today’s business world. As new technologies emerge, those who don’t change with the times are bound to be left behind. Ensure you remain at the forefront of the creative industry by reading trade publications, attending professional association meetings and participating in online training.
  3. “That’s not my job.” While you shouldn’t be expected to take on tasks that fall well outside your area of expertise, you do need to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time. Offering to help a colleague with an overflowing plate or volunteering for a new project can help you build your skill set and position you for advancement within your firm.
  4. “That’s not the way we do things.” There may be a valid reason for sticking to a certain process or procedure, but take the time to explain why, rather than sounding set in your ways. Technology is rapidly changing the way people communicate and, as a designer, you want to show adaptability.

We all put our foot in our mouths from time to time – including in front of our colleagues. To ensure an accidental utterance doesn’t cost your career, keep the following saying in mind: Think before you speak.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at

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