Helen Thomas debacle: how to avoid pulling a "Helen"

Helen Thomas is retiring after over five decades as a White House reporter. Thomas announced her retirement Monday when comments she made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict went viral on the Web. The call for Israeli Jews to return to Poland and Germany created a swell of backlash in the media. Mother Jones magazine reports that, "Her remarks about Israel were obviously odious and she's doing everyone a favor by stepping down." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs chastised Thomas saying, "those remarks were offensive and reprehensible."

Prior to the incident, Thomas was considered a highly esteemed veteran journalist. According to the Associated Press, she was the first female National Press Club officer and president of the White House Correspondent's Association. Years later, remarks on an issue that are sensitive to people around the globe have cost her a life-long career and her reputation. Is this a case of a woman being demoted for being too vocal, or did she deserve to get the boot? Male counterparts have been known to put their foot in their mouths a minute too late, but the PR spin doctors put their neck out for them. What makes the Helen Thomas situation any different?

Dov Charney, CEO of clothing company American Apparel, candidly refers to his employees by various expletives and is on the defense for three ongoing sexual harassment suits, according to the TimesOnline. So far, he is still running a highly profitable retail business.

Col Allen, editor-in-chief of the New York Post, ran a cartoon depicting President Obama as a monkey back in 2009. The cartoon circulated the Web to the dismay of many Post readers. Allen remained on the paper despite the incident.

Former President George W. Bush called a New York Times reporter a "major-league-[you fill in the blank]" during the 2000 presidential campaign, and won.

Vice President Joe Biden had a similar gaffe when he referred to President Obama's signing of the health care reform bill as a "big-bleeping-deal."

Were the comments of once-influential journalist Helen Thomas worse than that of these male figures? Or, did she just fall victim to a so-called "man's world"? See her comments for yourself, and tell me what you think.

Whether you are just starting your career or you've worked your way up the ladder, don't pull a Helen. Instead, use these tips for success in the workplace.

Make your voice heard: Be tactful, yet forceful.

Says Dr. Audrey Nelson, the author of Code Switching, How to Talk so Men Will Listen, "Talking like a little girl gets a woman nowhere." Dr. Nelson advises women to be assertive and get to the point in one short sound bite.

Don't be "Sorry"

Behavioral expert Dr. Suzanne Gaddis says that women tend to say sorry more often than men, especially in the workplace. Dr. Gaddis says, "Save the "I'm sorry" for when you're shopping for a Hallmark card, not when you're in the workplace." Instead, try a phrase like "I regret," which is more direct and meaningful.

Balance your work and home life.

Shine reader Amy Boz says that drawing up a routine for the week is the key to a successful healthy home-work balance. According to Boz, "If you can create a routine for your "home-work", you can spend more of your time at home enjoying the people you love."

Look like a lady.

Penelope Trunk of the brazencareerist.com says, "There's a wide body of research that shows that women are received better when they hit that magic point between dressing like a guy and dressing like a harlot." See these tips for summer wardrobe do's-and-dont's of business attire. Suzanne Wagner of the workitmom blog says the classic white shirt is always a winner.

(image courtesy of source)