19 easy ways to slowly destroy your career


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Pabak Sarkar/flickr

These bad behaviors will slowly erode your credibility and cost you big time in the end.

There are big mistakes that can instantly ruin your reputation at work or even get you fired. But more commonly, it's the gradual accumulation of smaller offenses that keeps employees from getting ahead in their careers.


Bad habits, such as giving curt responses to emails or keeping to yourself all day, could be hurting your reputation - whether you realize it or not.

Here are 19 bad behaviors that will slowly erode your credibility and cost you big time in the end:

1. You don't adapt to the company culture

Every workplace operates under its own set of social customs. Not making an effort to assimilate into this culture can make you seem disapproving or judgmental. This holier-than-thou attitude is alienating to coworkers and makes it seem like you don't care about forming positive relationships in the office.

2. You make excuses

Not taking responsibility for your mistakes and failures will catch up with you. Waiting until the day a project is due to explain why you're behind, for example, tells your boss that you can't manage your time well.


3. You do the bare minimum

Even if you always meet deadlines and consistently turn in quality work, doing only the bare minimum makes you seem complacent. On the other hand, looking for opportunities instead of waiting for them to fall into your lap shows your boss that you're driven and care about your future at the company.

4. You dress like a slob

Once you're settled into a position, it can be easy to let your appearance fall by the wayside. But failing to look put-together undermines your credibility and authority and may make you seem like you don't care. Remember the age-old saying: Dress for the job you want.

5. You don't follow through

When you fail to do what you say you're going to do, from restocking the printer to copy editing your neighbor's report, you garner a reputation for being unreliable. Keeping your word shows that you're accountable and can be trusted with more responsibilities when it comes time to be considered for a promotion.

6. You're a pessimist

If you're habitually sporting a bad attitude, you become a nuisance to your boss and can drag down your team. Constantly whining and complaining won't make you pleasant to be around, and certainly won't entice your boss to keep you around for long.

7. You ignore coworkers

Forming friendships with your colleagues is just as important as cultivating relationships with higher-ups. Strive to be known and well-liked so coworkers want to share valuable information with you and help you when you need it.


8. You're defensive

Your boss doesn't expect you to be perfect, but getting defensive when receiving negative feedback makes you look unprofessional. If you're unwilling to listen to constructive criticism, it tells your boss that you're unlikely to push yourself to improve.

9. You procrastinate

Putting off projects until the last minute not only puts stress on you, but it hinders the progress of every other person relying on your portion of the work. If something goes wrong, you'll likely be the first one blamed.

10. You write brusque emails

No matter how friendly you are in person, terse language can easily be misconstrued in an email. Even if it's unintentional, rude emails immediately sour your reputation around the office and keep others from wanting to interact with you.

11. You don't make meaningful contributions

Saying something in a meeting just for the sake of speaking doesn't add anything productive. Instead, prepare ahead of time, and remember quality over quantity when sharing ideas.

12. You're always late

Frequent tardiness signifies to coworkers that something else is more important to you and that you don't value their time. It paints you as disrespectful and uncaring, making people wary of trusting you. No matter what it takes, always find a way to be punctual.


13. You never stop talking

Yes, it's great to get to know your coworkers, but if you're constantly socializing, it prevents everyone around you from getting their work done. Keep the chatter to your lunch hour and breaks to avoid annoying others and becoming the person no one wants to work with.

14. You ignore emails

Failing to answer emails in a reasonable time frame not only frustrates those who need responses from you, but it signifies to colleagues that they aren't worth your time, can cause you to miss deadlines, and generally paints you as unprofessional. Although answering each one as soon as it's received is impractical, making a conscious effort to stay on top of your inbox goes a long way.

15. You're rude

Doing good work doesn't matter if no one wants to work with you. Not only does rudeness alienate coworkers, but most managers won't tolerate abrasive and inconsiderate employees. Remember, being polite is a key to winning people over.

16. You're a people pleaser

Being a people pleaser at work may feel good in the moment. You probably love being to go-to person for favors. It may make you feel important and liked. But, according to Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., it can be an extremely unhealthy way to behave and can ultimately destroy your career.

If you never say "no" and you make every decision with others in mind, people will walk all over you - and not take you seriously. This may lead you to feeling resentful, stressed, or depressed, which will have an impact on your career.


17. You don't own your mistakes

Nobody's perfect and we all make mistakes. Rather than pointing fingers and throwing your coworkers under the bus, you should own up to your blunders.

It might be hard to do, but in the end, your boss and colleagues will respect you much more.

18. You steal credit for other people's work

This is one of the worst things you can do at work. It's highly unprofessional and unethical. Your boss will eventually catch on, and it won't be pretty when they do.

19. You don't play well with others

It's imperative that you know how to work well with others.

You don't have to love group projects or big meetings - but you do have to bring your A game and be a valuable team player at all times.


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