The other day I got a call from a person who wanted to sell me marketing services. In our “hello, how are you” phase, he responded with “very good, after all it’s Friday.” And so I thought about what he intended to communicate with this TGIF reference. It could have been lots of things: a cliché response that one says on Friday rather mindlessly, an expression of relief that the work week is over, a negative evaluation of life at work, or perhaps a comment to assure me that he had a life beyond work. And on Facebook and other social media sites a great number of people note their anticipation of Friday and the weekend, probably as genuine expressions of the joy of not working but perhaps also to communicate their (implied) exciting weekend.
For many listeners/readers, however, the meaning communicated is not at all positive. For example, I didn’t feel that this marketing person was really interested in his job or in me; rather, that he was focused on Friday, the end of work, and the weekend—whether he really was or not. Do I really want to do business with someone who is just marking time? The customer, client, student, and patient don’t want to deal with people who are focused on after-work activities; they want to deal with people who enjoy their job because these are the people who make dealing with them a positive experience.
Perhaps the most important message that these comments communicate is to the prospective employer who reads the potential employee’s social media posts and concludes that this person really doesn’t want to work. It’s the equivalent of an interviewee bad-mouthing a previous employer—one of the major mistakes novice interviewees make. It conveys a negativity that is just not productive and not what employers are looking for. In the current issue of Fortune (June 10, 2013) there’s a great article on Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group—a huge real estate firm—panelist on Shark Tank and popular guest on talk shows. Among her advice to managers and others in positions of workplace influence is to protect your company’s optimism. “The minute I spotted a chronic complainer, I’d fire them,” says Corcoran. “I didn’t care how much money they brought in because negativity kills optimism and belief in the future.”
None of this is to say that it’s wrong or unethical to TGIF—hey, if that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. The problem comes in when you post it and the prospective employer reads it, for example; you’re simply loading the dice against yourself.