Why “Honey Trumps Vinegar” Matters in the Workplace

August 20, 2015

Career Advice

3432013868_b9f1e9c84a_zIt’s a common phrase that some of you Millennials may have never heard before. And it has a common application to all things communication— “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar!”

This phrase is an oldie but a goodie and it can be used in just about every workplace setting. It can be translated loosely as, “Positivity is a better approach than negativity.” It’s not a bad concept to consider, especially if you are feeling that you’ve fallen into the dreaded workplace gossip spiral. It’s a good strategy to remember all the time, but it’s especially important to use it around your higher-ups when seeking a promotion.

Let’s take a few common phrases you might hear in the workplace and rework them with just a bit more “honey:”

You say to your manager, “Do we really need to have another meeting about the budget?” (vinegar)
Instead you might say, “Wow, the budget issue must be really critical right now for us to be having another meeting.” (honey)

You say to your boss, “I’m shocked that you denied my request to work from home this month especially given the new policy that allows for telecommuting.” (vinegar)
Instead you might say, “There must be some pretty heavy restrictions on working from home right now, despite the new policy. Is there a particular time that might be better for me to talk with you about my situation at home and how telecommuting would benefit both of us?” (honey)

You say to your project manager, “I’ve been working so many extra hours these past two weeks, I think that maybe you’ve forgotten I have a family at home.” (vinegar)
Instead you might say, “I’ve been working overtime for two weeks. I’m excited we are coming in on time and budget with this project. Given all the extra hours we’ve been putting in, I’d like to ask for three days off to reconnect with my family when the project comes to an end.” (honey)

You say to a co-worker, “I’ve been working with Sharon for way too long now. I can’t believe we‘ve been assigned a project together again. She’s inconsiderate and has no respect for the leadership of this team.” (vinegar)
Instead you might say, “I’ve learned a lot about Sharon from working closely with her for the past four years. Since we work together on most jobs, I’ve discovered how important it is for her to have some freedom to work alone and not be interrupted.” (honey)

You get the idea! Do your best to catch the flies with some honey, and you just might succeed further in the workplace as well.

Image via Rachel/Flickr


About Spectrum Brands Careers

Spectrum Brands is a global $5 Billion Consumer Products company headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin. While you may not be familiar with the Spectrum Brands name, there is no doubt you will recognize some of our brands.

View all posts by Spectrum Brands Careers


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