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8 Things You Shouldn’t Do At Work

The Worst Office Faux Pas


Every office has that co-worker who chews gum too loudly or dresses inappropriately – just make sure it isn’t you. No matter how hard a worker you may be, if you annoy other people in the office, it will come back to haunt you.

“The way you move up the corporate ladder is by making people love you, so if you annoy your co-workers regularly, there could be repercussions,” says Jodi Glickman, a career coach and author of Great on the Job. It’s not that you’ll necessarily get fired for committing an office faux pas – unless it’s something as serious as being perpetually late to work. Rather, it could limit your opportunities for advancement at the company by affecting “whether other colleagues want to work with you,” Glickman says.

With that in mind, we asked Glickman and other career experts to offer their suggestions for the most annoying office habits that are all too common and could hurt your career. If we missed any of your biggest pet peeves, let us know in the comments section below!

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Talking Too Loudly on the Phone


Chances are most office employees have raised their voice on the phone at one time or other, but don’t make a habit of it.

“You have to respect that other people can hear what’s going on in your cubicle. That means don’t use the speakerphone to dial numbers or hold conference calls in your cubicle,” says Robert Hellmann, a career consultant with The Five O’Clock Club, an outplacement firm. Likewise, he urges employees to avoid talking too loudly while having overly personal conversations in the workplace, as this can be “painful” for others to overhear.

Instead, Hellmann suggests finding an open office or conference room you can step into to take the call, and if you really need to have a shouting match with your spouse, it may just pay to go outside.

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Listening to Loud Music or Videos


Along the same lines, listening to loud music or videos at your desk infringes on the personal space of others around you and could create a tense work environment.

“Every company has a different policy about earbuds, but if you are listening to music, either close your door or put on earbuds,” Glickman says. “No one wants to listen to Guns ‘N Roses just because you do.”

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Messing Up the Kitchen


Don’t bring your messy eating habits to the office, or it could quickly earn you a bad reputation. In particular, career expert Alexandra Levit urges employees against doing anything that might make the office “smell bad,” such as leaving old food lying around too long. It’s an office, not a dorm room, after all.

Leaving your dirty dishes and silverware lying around the kitchen is another big faux pas, according to Glickman. “If you leave dirty dishes, it communicates that you think others will clean it up, that their time is less important than your own,” she says. That isn’t a message you ever want to send.

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Bringing Your Kids Into the Office Too Much


There’s a reason every day isn’t Take Your Child to Work Day. As cute as kids can be, they are often incredibly distracting in the workplace.

“It’s great if your kids come to visit once or twice a year. It’s adorable. But if they are in the office all the time, that can be disruptive,” Glickman says. In fact, she says the same principle applies to bringing your spouse or friends to the office: It can be nice in moderation, but don’t make a habit of it.

As with several of the points on our list, it is worth noting that this may depend on your particular office environment. For example, if there is a day care facility in your office and other co-workers bring their children around a lot, it may not be so bad. If you’re the only one with a child in tow, you might want to rethink it.

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Crowding Everyone's Inbox


Most employees get enough emails each day, they don’t need any extra help filling up their inbox. That’s why the reply-all offender is particularly loathesome. According to Hellmann, workers should try to avoid replying all to invitations and companywide announcements unless it’s specifically called for, as this will just end up bombarding other people in the company with emails.

On the other hand, Hellmann also argues that employees should be quick to respond to individual emails sent by co-workers to avoid coming off as unresponsive, even if that response is as simple as, “I don’t have time right now, but I will try to get back to you soon.”

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Being a Debbie Downer


The last thing you want is to be seen as the downer in your office – the one who makes everyone else feel bad. Unfortunately, many of those who are buzzkills may not know it because no one else wants to tell them.

“You have to be self-reflective enough to be aware of that,” Hellmann says, but he notes that everyone should be honest with themselves about it and make a change if necessary. “You want to be invited to be a part of meetings, projects and parties to get ahead, but you won’t be if you’re the negative person in the room all the time.”

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Texting in the Elevator


It might sound like an odd pet peeve, but according to Glickman, it always pays to chat with co-workers in the elevator rather than hide behind your phone.

“When you’re on an elevator, put your iPhone or BlackBerry away and take two minutes to greet the person standing there next to you,” she says. “It’s just common courtesy.”

The same applies when you’re walking around the office or sitting at the kitchen. It’s an opportunity to build relationships with co-workers rather than be seen as reclusive or worse, standoffish.

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Dressing Inappropriately


It should go without saying, but dressing inappropriately can hurt your reputation in the workplace and in certain cases even result in being reprimanded by human resources. As a general rule, Glickman says workers should “dress one level more formal than they need to,” though we would say you’ll be fine if you just match the general attire of those around you.

Even if you happen to work in a more casual environment, Glickman strongly urges you to avoid wearing stained or ill-fitting clothing, half-painted nail polish or anything else that makes it look like you’ve just stopped caring about how you look. Otherwise, some of your co-workers might wonder if you’ve stopped caring about your work as well.

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