Bad habits are hard to change, but make sure to carve out time regularly to reflect on your behavior — not just your work — at the office. Your reputation and employment may be at stake.

  1. Being Tardy to the Party
    Just because others are a few minutes late to the meeting, doesn’t mean you should conform. Instead, try arriving 5 minutes early. You can use the peace and quiet to clear your head and review the agenda, so that when the meeting starts you’ll be ready to roll. Consistent punctuality drastically improves an employee’s reputation. You’ll be perceived as organized, in control, responsible, and reliable, everything that a professional aspires to be.
  2. Procrastinating Like a Boss… When You’re Not the Boss
    Unlike tardiness, procrastination may fly under the radar for some time, but it will bite you in the rear sooner or later — well, probably later if you’re a procrastinator. By leaving large projects or even small tasks to the very last minute, you rob yourself of the chance to edit your work or, worse yet, you don’t give your colleagues ample time to provide valuable feedback. Living life on the edge may give you a thrill in the moment, but you won’t enjoy it when the deadline comes rearing its ugly head, and all you have is a half-baked, error-rich deliverable. When procrastinating on a major task, you maintain a constant unpleasant feeling in the back of your mind which can actually detract from the quality of any lesser tasks you may be doing at the moment. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
  3. Yelling Just To Be Heard
    Depending on where you work, yelling may be a commonplace occurrence or it may be totally unheard of. Either way, avoid the urge to yell at all costs. Yelling is the adult equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum. When you can’t think of a more mature way to handle a situation gone wrong, your best bet is to step away for a moment — take a walk around the office, have some tea, or take a few deep breaths. Otherwise, you risk being perceived as domineering, unprofessional, even insecure and overcompensating for something. Sadly, it only takes one incident of poor judgment and you’ll find yourself having to carry that with you for months, even years, until you find your next gig.
  4. Gossiping Harmlessly
    Sure, most people gossip to some small degree. Then there are the pros who turn it into an art form. Folks who exert so much energy worrying about the work or behavior of colleagues are wasting the company’s time and money, and are likely to become topics of gossip themselves. It’s one thing to vent to a spouse or friend outside of work, but it’s another thing entirely to risk your reputation within your office walls. The next time you sense an urge to say something petty about a colleague, think about how you’d feel if they found out. Or imagine how you’d feel if you discovered someone was nit-picking what you wore to the office yesterday. Think before you talk. Shift your focus by listening to one of your favorite songs (if your job allows) or work on an easy task to boost your sense of accomplishment and move on with the rest of your day.
  5. Spreading Yourself Too Thin
    Being a workaholic-martyr is not something to be proud of, though every office has a few. If you’re blessed with a hectic job and a ton of work on your plate, it’s especially important to understand the power of saying “no.” If you take on too many items and spread yourself too thin, you’re doing everyone a disservice: your boss, your coworkers and business partners, your friends and family, and most of all yourself. Even if you manage to achieve some semblance of external success, you’ll be burning out inside. More than likely, though, you’ll be running from task to task like a chicken with its head cut off, while your judgment, decision-making, creativity, and empathy suffer.
  6. Throwing Bodies Under the Bus
    Much can be said on this topic, but it can also be summarized briefly: don’t do it! Throwing colleagues under the bus is a recipe for disaster. It drains team morale and productivity and places a target on your back for the future. Instead of wasting your precious energy on the blame game, refocus your thoughts on how you can improve communications and processes so the mistake doesn’t recur. You’ll be the unsung office hero, rather than the silently hated villain.

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