A Dozen Ways You Don't Realize You Are Making a Bad Impression at Work
First impressions are important but so is the impression are making day after day with your team.
Everyone has a few habits they could improve but you may not even recognize that you have some of these habits. When your bad habits interfere with the work environment it becomes detrimental to the company’s common goals. That leads to bad relationships with coworkers and clients.
Here are 12 ways you could be sabotaging your success by making a bad impression at work.
1. Always being late.
Do you find yourself always rushing into work or meetings 10 or 15 minutes late? Rather than make excuses, give yourself an extra half hour each day to offset possible obstacles including traffic, scarce parking or last-minute phone calls and emails. Perennial lateness causes undue stress for yourself and shows a lack of respect for others. If you know you will be late, let others know ahead of time.
2. Being disorganized.
Piles of files, hundreds of emails and messy stacks of paper in every corner of your office undermine an impression of competence. If you aren’t in control of your surroundings, how can you be trusted with heavy responsibilities? Don’t try to thrive in “organized” chaos. Lighten your load by tackling a little bit of clutter each week. If you can’t find time to clean up the clutter, hire a professional organizer.
3. Grooming at your desk.
Clipping or cleaning your nails, combing your hair, spraying hairspray or cologne or picking your teeth at your desk is a definite no-no. Do this at home, or at the very least, in the privacy of the restroom or behind the closed door of your office.
4. Being cavalier.
Looking at the glass half full instead of half empty isn't wrong, but brushing aside problems with a “Pollyanna-like” flippant attitude will frustrate coworkers and make you look as if you don’t take your job seriously. Don't brush aside problems which are certain to escalate. Confront them as they happen. Better yet, anticipate possible problems before they happen.
5. Cursing frequently.
If you use profanity regularly at work your “potty mouth” is offensive and makes you look uneducated, unpolished and careless. Be as diplomatic as possible but speak up if someone with whom you work offends you with profanity. If you’re the one offedning people with profanity, know that others are judging your behavior. Clean up your act by rewarding yourself for making small changes. Keep a tip jar on your desk and put a few dollars in it whenever you go a day without using swear words.
6. Throwing tantrums.
This tactic may have worked when you were a toddler, but it isn’t effective in the office. It indicates that you can’t handle pressure, and alienates others from either trusting or approaching you. When you feel yourself about to lose control, remove yourself from the situation, if possible. Go outside for some fresh air or exercise. Learn ways to reduce stress and calmly express your opinions. Get professional help if your anger persists and interferes with your relationships with family, friends and coworkers.
7. Being flirtatious.
Even though you may feel attracted to someone with whom you work, keep your comments (and your hands) to yourself. Off-color jokes and sexual overtures are sure to make others feel uncomfortable. Be a good role model and practice self-control in your actions, words and body language.
8. Using filler words.
A person who mumbles doesn’t come across as educated or well spoken. Learn to speak up and articulate without using filler words including “um,” “like,” and “you know.” Broaden your vocabulary and learn a word a day and you’ll be able to communicate more clearly and concisely.
9. Lying, cheating or stealing.
Don't diminish your credibility or your career over an impulse to lie, cheat or steal. There is no glory in “pulling one over” on someone. Those who excel in business have the “BLT” Factor - believe, like and trust. Give others a reason to believe, like and trust you for your honesty and integrity.
If you say you are going to do something or be somewhere, do it. Don’t develop a reputation as someone who cannot fulfill their commitments. Be realistic when setting and articulating goals, then follow through and be dependable. Adjust if necessary, letting others know of changes in the expected schedule.
11. Displaying rude body language.
Actions like rolling your eyes, constantly looking at your phone or slouching in your seat don't help you win friends and influence people. Body language can speak louder than words, and good manners never go out of style, so be mindful of how you appear to others.
12. Being a loner.
You may do your best work on your own and pride yourself on your independence, but don’t alienate others. Get out from behind your desk. Make time for lunches and after-hour get-togethers with friends, clients and colleagues. A good network will build your net worth.
Don’t let bad habits tarnish your professional reputation. Take the necessary steps to put your best foot forward and you’ll achieve positive results.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).