WORKPLACE / MAR. 23, 2016
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5 Habits That Can Give You a Bad Reputation in The Office

Nobody wants a bad reputation in the office. Not only does it damage your relationships with coworkers, bosses, and even clients, but it’s also the cause of your career’s slow and painful death.

And while building – and keeping – a good reputation can be an extraordinarily difficult task, it just takes one bad habit to ruin it. And if you find that everyone in the building is avoiding you left, right, and center, then it’s quite possibly because your reputation stinks and your coworkers hate you.

Here are 5 habits that can give you a bad reputation in the office.

See Also: 8 Hacks to Improve Your Reputation

1. Being Late

Panicked woman waking up late
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It happens to everyone at one point or another: you sleep through your alarm, you get stuck in traffic, or your bus breaks down, and you’re suddenly late for work. But when you’re habitually late for work every day, accompanied by just about every craziest excuse you can think of, you slowly but surely dig a grave for your professional reputation.

While occasional tardiness is understandable, because we live in an extraordinarily busy world where we schedule back-to-back meetings and appointments, with very little time left for ourselves, chronic tardiness can have undesirable effects on operations, not to mention colleagues and supervisors. In fact, when Jennifer Cohen polled 150 of her business associates back in 2014, more than 80% of respondents said being late was one of their greatest annoyances in those that they work with.

Lateness, meanwhile, does not only strain your relationships with colleagues but clients, too. Being punctual for a client meeting shows that you’re respectful, professional, and responsible; arriving just a few minutes late, on the other hand, on what could potentially be a $1 billion deal is reason enough for a client to take their business elsewhere. To avoid being late for important meetings, make sure you leave a 10 to 15-minute window between appointments; also, try to leave the house for work, at least, five minutes earlier than usual if you find that punctuality isn’t your strongest suit.

2. Complaining

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Work can be incredibly tough at times, and there’s no denying that. Impending deadlines, a massive workload, or a bad boss can all get the better of us, and while workers are encouraged to voice their opinions about a new policy or a project’s deadline, you should take extra caution that your concerns do not cross the line into “complaint” territory. This is especially important if you become known as the workplace whiner as you’ll find that coworkers don’t want to be associated with you.

And while a recent report on workplace social media policies revealed that employers can’t legally fire someone for posting about work on sites like Facebook or Twitter (some types of complaints, meanwhile, are actually protected by law), you should refrain from posting a 140-character rant about how incredibly annoying Alice is. Not only does it make you look bad, but you’ll also appear to be irresponsible, unproductive, and simply the toxic root of workplace negativity. And name-calling a coworker on social media can get you fired.

3. Gossiping

Two young women gossiping
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If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That’s probably one of the many things your mother taught you as a child, but it’s probably something you completely ignored if you find that your reputation in the workplace precedes you as the office gossiper.

The dangers of workplace gossip are many: people will distance themselves from you, and you’ll appear deceitful and generally a negative person. Whether you’re the instigator or you’re just passing on the juice, gossiping can disrupt workflow and create a toxic workplace. Meanwhile, you might soon find yourself looking for another job if things get out of hand and you start spreading rumors in order to tarnish a coworker’s or worse, a client’s, reputation.

4. Taking Credit for Other People’s Work

This has to be every worker’s least favorite person the office: the guy, or gal, who takes credit for everyone else’s work. And the sad reality is that they often do not realize they are doing it.

Let’s say, for example, that you are working with a colleague on your team on a joint project, and you’re ready to present the ideas you came up with together to your boss. However, things get awkward for your colleague when you start presenting your ideas as your own by starting sentences with “I” rather than “we”. This, whether intentional or unintentional, gives your boss the impression that you did most or all of the work despite the fact that the ideas and solutions you came up with were a joint effort. It’s even worse when you start taking credit for work which your coworker did alone.

5. Being Defensive

Man being defensive after making mistake
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One of the most consistent and universal behaviors in the workplace is defensiveness. While it’s perfectly fine to defend yourself by proving you have completed a project you were accused of abandoning, and so you should, being defensive to cover up something and preserve the illusion that you’re on top of your game is an act of aggression.

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that criticism and feedback are essential parts of any business, but if your first response to any less-than-perfect feedback is to get defensive, then you run the risk of appearing immature and highly unprofessional. Moreover, by getting angry or making excuses for any constructive criticism or advice that you receive, you indicate that you’re not willing to learn and change and, before long, you’re shown to the door.

See Also: How to Repair Your Damaged Reputation at Work

Can you think of any other habits that can give you a bad reputation in the office? Perhaps you learned the hard way by having one or two of the habits we’ve listed here, and have a few tips and tricks you’d like to offer about curbing these reputation-crushing behaviors? Share your advice and stories with us in the comments section below!

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