Are you unknowingly killing your career? 9 things to watch out for

Behaviors that could be perceived as barriers to communication, disrespectful or against the company ethos could stop your career in its tracks

Zeta Yarwood
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No less than 97 percent of our behavior is subconscious? Think about it. How much of your day do you spend on autopilot, making decisions or behaving a certain way out of habit rather than considered, conscious thought? With most of us on autopilot, it is no surprise that we are sometimes, if not always, oblivious as to how our behavior is perceived by or impacts others.

In the workplace, this could have serious consequences. Behaviors that could be perceived as barriers to communication, disrespectful or against the company ethos could stop your career in its tracks. What workplace habits are you unaware of that might be ruining your career?


1) Not listening (and interrupting people)

Relationships are built on communication and trust. By not listening, or constantly interrupting, you are showing you do not care what the other person thinks. This could be perceived as a lack of respect. This is a huge barrier to building trust, and will only lead to negative results with your clients, customers, colleagues or management.

2) Negative attitude

Whether it is toward your job, company or people you work with, a negative attitude will cause you a number of problems. First, it will ruin your chances of promotion. No successful leader has ever had a negative, no-can-do attitude. Second, your boss or senior management could see you as a hindrance to progress and not a team player, leaving your employer to question your future at the company. Third, negative people are really hard to be around. Continue being negative and you will alienate most people in the company, leaving you feeling alone and unsupported.

3) Not being accountable for your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. The difference between a mature person and an immature one is the former takes accountability for their mistakes. They do not pass the blame onto someone else. Playing the blame game will only make you look like a child, and your dignity will be out the window.

4) Not being cooperative

At one of my previous companies, there was a senior manager who said “no” to everything. Whenever someone needed his signature or approval on something, his first reaction was to always say “no.” He did this out of a need to feel and look important and powerful. Instead, it just made him look like an uncooperative nuisance, and six months later he was removed from that role.

Being seen as a team player is crucial for your career success. Look for ways to make things happen rather than saying “no,” and you will still be seen as powerful, but in a much more positive way.

5) Being rude, aggressive or snappy

You might be having a bad day. You might believe that being rude or aggressive is the only way to get what you need. Maybe being rude and putting others down makes you feel better about yourself. Maybe it has become your identity. If you stopped being the aggressive one in the office, how else would you stand out from the crowd?

While there is always a reason for the behavior, the behavior itself is not appropriate for the workplace. Take steps to manage your issues outside the office (e.g. coaching, personal development books etc.) and leave them at the door.

6) Being late

Turning up late to meetings or conference calls can be perceived as a lack of respect for other people’s time. In the case of the company paying your salary, constantly showing up to work late could be interpreted as a lack of respect for their investment in you.

7) Talking about yourself all the time

Your career is determined by the quality of relationships you make. Constantly talking about yourself is not conducive to successful relationship management. Take a genuine interest in other people and watch your career (and job satisfaction) flourish.

8) Gossiping

Sometimes people engage in gossip to bond with other people. Others do it because they think it will make them look good - they are in the know so they must be important, right? Others do it out of insecurity - “if I can make someone else look bad, that might make me look better.”

The intention of the behavior might be positive for the individual, but the behavior and the impact it will have on your reputation will be anything but. You could be seen as a troublemaker and not a team player - not great if you are looking for a promotion anytime soon.

9) Being on your phone in meetings

Being on your phone gives the impression you are either bored, disengaged or wishing you could be somewhere else. It also indicates you do not care about your company’s goals and objectives. The company is paying you a salary to care. Be respectful, put your phone down and engage in the meeting. Even most work issues can wait until the end of a meeting, or at least the break, before they have to be attended to.

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