Be Wary of These 8 Behaviors That Could Signal Later Troubles When you are considering working with a new person, watch out for these red flags.

By Stephen Key

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How good are you at reading people? No one can predict the future, but over the years, I've developed the ability to smell a problem from a mile away. That's because there are always warning signs. Always!

My feeling is that life is way too short to work with people who are a pain in the ass. Honing in on your ability to read these warning signs will help you be more productive, happier and have less workplace drama.

When you begin working with anyone new, pay close attention to his or her behavior from the onset. What kind of vibe are you picking up? You may decide not to work with this person after all.

Related: Signs You Might Be a Terrible Leader (Yes, You)

But more often than not, we don't have that much control over our professional relationships. For better or for worse, we're forced to manage the people we encounter during the workweek to one degree or another. That's why it's a good idea to take note of what you're getting yourself into. If you know that these problematic behaviors are indicative of later troubles from the beginning, you'll be able to manage them better.

1. They're late.

Being punctual is respectful. There's no other way to put it. If a new client is late to your first meeting, that's a red flag to me -- even if it's just a conference call. The same goes for replying to emails. If this person doesn't respect you, how do you know that they respect themselves?

2. They see only problems.

This gets old real fast. If you find that someone you've just begun working with seems to bring up complaints, and never solutions to those complaints, take note. When it comes to moving your business forward, you need positive thinkers.

3. They're easily distracted.

Listening is an art -- and so important in business. As far as I'm concerned, it's the only real way to solve problems. Is this person constantly checking his or her phone at lunch or looking over his or her shoulder? Does he or she focus on making eye contact with you? If not: Uh-oh.

4. They criticize others.

Pointing the finger does no one good. Some people seemed to have missed the memo on this. When someone you work with passes the buck, even in an offhand way, it means they're insecure. And furthermore, all business is really a team effort. Working with people who understand that they cannot do it alone is so much more rewarding.

Related: These 5 Interview Blunders Will Probably Kill Your Job Prospects

5. They rush to make judgments.

I want to surround myself with people whose opinions I can rely on, because I know they're well thought out. That takes time. Not a lot of time, necessarily -- but enough to process your thoughts. In the same vein, does this person give you enough time to make a decision or form an opinion?

6. They're inflexible.

Planning is great. It's also highly necessary. But there are times when you need to be fluid. How does this person react to the suggestion of change?

7. They don't seem particularly enthusiastic.

Not every job is fantastic. But if someone you're working with isn't even capable of acting like they care about their job, you're in for a struggle. Working with people like this reminds me of carrying heavy luggage. It just seems so hard to get anywhere! Drop them off as soon as you can.

8. They don't accept their mistakes.

If someone isn't capable of admitting when they're wrong, they will never learn from their mistakes. And as a result, those mistakes will continue to happen.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that you yourself rush to judgment. But in my experience, it's worth taking note of these behaviors. Use what you learn to craft the most successful relationship you can with this person.

Related: 3 Personality Types That Can Harm Your Business

Stephen Key

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Don't Miss This Sam's Club Membership Deal for Just $20

Your last chance for a great deal on a membership that helps you save money all year long.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2023

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2023.


This $126 Apple- and Android-Compatible Display Can Help You Drive Safer

Adding this display will elevate your older model car for an affordable price.

Data & Recovery

This Cyber Week Exclusive Gets You 1TB of Cloud Storage for $120

If you're looking for a reliable cloud storage solution, look no further than Koofr.

Business News

McDonald's Is Making a Major Change to Its Burgers in 2024

The beloved Big Mac will also be getting a big makeover.

Thought Leaders

3 New Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus

To boost focus in the face of distractions, you need a new approach to success.