When it comes to your job, navigating an office and all of the nuanced relationships that come with it is no easy task. But that doesn't mean you should engage in habits that prevent you from getting ahead at work. If you put in some extra effort to be courteous and thoughtful, while paying attention to how you're affecting your boss and colleagues, there are all sorts of benefits to be had.
One of which is simply having a nice work environment. "While work is not the place to focus on creating the best friendships in your life, it is helpful when people at work genuinely like working with you," workplace expert Heather Monahan tells Bustle. And when it comes down to it, when your coworkers feel they have a good working relationship with you, they'll be more likely to offer help when you need it, Monahan says.
Going above and beyond can also put you in a top spot when it comes time for promotions and raises. But if you tend to have bad habits — like maybe you're constantly late, or you're not being a "team player" — it may tarnish people's opinion of you, and start to hurt your chances of getting ahead. So be mindful of your presence at work, and whenever possible, experts suggest refraining from these 11 habits below.
1. Coming In Late And/Or Leaving Early
Are you supposed to be at work from nine to five? If so, it's a good idea to actually stick to that — and not stroll in at 9:30 or disappear at 4:45 — since this habit can ruffle some feathers.
"Leaving work early or arriving late consistently is a definite turnoff for those around you," says Monahan. If your colleagues are showing up each day on time as well as leaving on time, and you aren't, they may begin to recognize you as someone not willing to put in the same effort they do, says Monahan. Plus, being on-time and sticking to your schedule shows that you're reliable, and that'll make you standout in all the right ways.
2. Asking Questions Before Trying To Fix A Problem
Let's say your computer shuts down. Or the cash register won't open. Or your phone won't dial out. While it's OK to ask for help at work, you shouldn't ask for it before trying to fix a problem yourself.
"Far too often I see capable people come and ask me what I think instead of trusting that they can figure out how to accomplish a task," says Monahan. "The same goes with coming to me with a problem that they haven’t bothered to attempt to figure out on [their] own. Always try to find a solution first before going to a superior when you find yourself at an impasse." It'll be all sorts of impressive.
3. Saying "That's Not My Job"
You're busy, so it's OK to say no to tasks that aren't your responsibility, or that you don't have time for. But if you really want to stand out at work, it may be a good idea to occasionally pick up some extra tasks, as long as you're not stepping on toes doing so. "Being a team player is important in any work space and will go a long way in building relationships with peers at work," says Monahan.
4. Talking About Personal Problems Too Often
In some lines of work it's OK — and even healthy — to be honest about your problems, especially if those problems are making it a challenge to do your job. But if you're often letting outside issues into work, it may start to rub people the wrong way.
Not to mention, if life's got you down, it can help to leave it all at the door. "Use work as an escape to focus your time and effort on while you are there," Monahan says. Then pick back up where you left over once you leave.
5. Focusing Only On Yourself
Sometimes you just have to bury your face in your computer, and get some stuff done. But it is important to remember to look up, and check in with your boss and colleagues. "Be sure to inquire about the team’s projects and ask how you can help," Monahan says. "Employees that focus only on their own workload and challenges will ultimately isolate themselves." And that's not helpful to anybody.
6. Not Cleaning Up After Yourself
We've all heard about the dreaded coworker who takes over the kitchen, leaves dishes everywhere, and doesn't throw away their garbage. Try not to be that person, and instead respect shared areas. Monahan says to be considerate of your work environment and remember to always clean up after yourself.
7. Making Distracting Noises
It may not be the biggest deal in the world, but Monahan says habits like gum chewing can be loud and distracting to coworkers. Same goes for pen clicking, throat clearing, and foot tapping — all things most of us do without even realizing. Try to pay attention to potentially noisy habits, and nip them in the bud if possible.
8. Bragging About Your Life Outside Of Work
While it's mostly harmless to share details about your weekend, especially in small talk, don't aim to make others jealous. "When jealousy creeps into the office it is tough to kick," Monahan says. So take notice when you're discussing your latest vacation. Most coworkers will be happy for you, but too much bragging may bring around the wrong kind of FOMO.
9. Complaining A Lot
If you need to vent, go ahead and vent. Just make sure you're venting to people you can trust. But if you find yourself complaining about work a lot, it may be time to do something about whatever's bothering you. As Monahan says, "If you don’t like your situation, take it up in private with your superior — not at the water cooler."
10. Discussing Your Old Job Too Much
Talking about how great your old job was can get old fast — especially if it starts to seem like you liked working there better. "While you may miss your old employer, sharing these stories and longing for your old situation may end you up on the outs with the group you work with now," Monahan says. "Try to find positive things about the current situation instead of always pointing out where the current employer is falling short."
11. Taking Too Many Coffee Breaks
Hey, if you need a break, then take a break. It's important to stop for lunch, and to walk around and stretch your legs. But that doesn't mean you should live in the break room, or go outside every five seconds.
"Taking multiple coffee breaks, extended lunch breaks, smoke breaks, or lengthy personal calls can be a problem at the office," Monahan says. "We all want to work with people that pull their weight and respect others on the team. Seeing a peer spend more time on break than everyone else is a turn off."
So take your boss and coworkers into account, not only for their benefit, but for yours, too. It'll not only make for a better work day, but also up your chances of winning their approval, and getting ahead.