Whether we mean to or not, we all have little habits that can make us seem immature at work. These include arriving five minutes late every day, sitting silently in the back of important meetings, and getting caught up in workplace drama — like the gossip that often goes down in the break room. Since these things don't exactly scream maturity, you'll want to avoid them whenever possible, lest they hold you back in your career.
Because, even if you're the best employee ever, that won't stop your boss from honing in on habits that make you seem ill-suited for promotion. Add in the fact many seem to have a knack for popping up right when you're spilling some juicy news at the water cooler, or sneaking in late with a coffee in tow, and you'll see why it's best to stay as mature and professional as possible — all in the name of getting ahead.
"It’s best to put your mature foot forward in the office so you can promote the idea that you are ready for more senior roles," author and life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "If advancing upwards is a big goal of yours, use these subtle tactics to make an impression on the senior level employees. Their best bet is to promote the mature, sophisticated employees, and you want your name in that hat!" Read on for a few helpful ways to do just that.
1. Speak Up In Meetings
While it might feel awkward at first, it's important to get in the habit of speaking up. "Don’t pull people to the side after meetings to ask questions or pitch ideas. Make your voice known in front of others," says Rogers. "It’s intimidating at first, but if you hide your ideas, most won’t know they were yours in the first place."
2. Keep Your Work Relationships In Check
It's perfectly fine — and even encouraged — to have a few workplace BFFs. But don't do so at the expense of your career. "Make sure you aren’t getting yourself involved in unnecessary office drama," Rogers says. "Be cordial and professional with people in the office and be mindful of when you choose to socialize after hours."
3. Resist The Urge To Stand Around The Water Cooler
In the same vein, if you happen to work in a gossipy place, try to avoid getting caught up whenever possible. "Everybody gossips. It’s just human nature. But when gossiping becomes a full blown habit, it can become destructive and really hurt your job and others’ jobs at work," Rogers says. "And it definitely does not exude maturity!"
4. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While it might feel childish to ask for help, it's actually anything but. "Thinking you can handle things yourself and making mistakes will only show your immaturity," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. "Knowing when you need help actually shows strength." So go ahead and ask for it.
5. Try Not To Stroll In Late
If you want to make a pitstop on the way to work to buy coffee, that's fine. Just make sure you've budgeted enough time, Monahan tells me. Nothing screams "immature" quite like rolling into work late, even if it's just by a few minutes.
6. State Your Opinions With Confidence
When you're not feeling the most confident, this can show up in the form of wishy washy statements and questions — instead of statements. And that's not going to do you any favors. "Not all of us are naturally confident in the workplace, and that is OK at first. That said, when everything you say has 'maybe' in the front and a question mark at the end, you will have zero credibility at work," life coach Samantha Siffring tells Bustle. "It’s OK to get it wrong sometimes, everyone does, so be confident about your opinions and state them firmly."
7. Be Aware Of The Workplace Culture
Every job is different, and one sign of maturity is knowing how to navigate them all. "Maturity is not about acting in a certain manner; it is about striking a balance between being your authentic self and being aware of your environment at work, including the work culture and your interactions with others," says clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow. What are the workplace values? What is frowned upon? Keep these things in mind, and you'll be one step ahead.
8. Dress For The Job You Want
You know the saying "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"? It really does work. As lifestyle expert Heather Monahan says, "Look to those that have positions that you want to obtain and make sure you are dressing for that same position." Maybe that means buying a suit, or putting some extra effort into your personal style. "There are countless inexpensive options these days to find professional clothes with flare."
9. Enter A Room With Confidence
Whether you're just walking into work, or walking into a super important meeting, do it all with confidence. "How you stand and enter a room says a lot about you," Monahan says. "Be sure to hold your head high and wear a smile whenever possible."
10. Reach Out For That Handshake
Another way to show confidence? Being the first to reach out for a handshake. As Monahan says, "I like to be the first person to greet someone and extend my hand with a firm handshake. Your body language is constantly communicating a message on your behalf. Make sure it is communicating what you want."
11. Keep Your Body Language Open
Speaking of body language, keeping yours open will exude confidence — even if you're not exactly feelin' it on the inside. "Keep your arms unfolded, shoulders back, and make eye contact with others," Monahan says. These simple habits throw off some incredibly confident vibes.
12. Do What You Can To Be Memorable
Whether it's in a meeting, or just in the day-to-day, people always appreciate those who stand out, or use their special skills to suggest a new idea. So go ahead and do it. "Make sure your voice is heard when you have a thought that could potentially add value," Monahan says. "You wouldn’t be sitting in the meeting if someone didn't think you could contribute."
13. Be Clear About Your Goals
Show a go-getter attitude whenever possible, and I promise people will take notice. Ask questions, volunteer for new projects, and let people know what your goals are. As Monahan tells me, it can even help to enlist a mentor. Share your goals with them, as well as your boss, and watch in amazement as you move up the ranks.
14. Show That You're Paying Attention
If your goal is to be the most mature of them all —and break a few glass ceilings, while you're at it — you'll want to show how serious you are. "'The way to do so is to consistently remain professional and focused on the task at hand while at work," workplace consultant Amy Cooper Hakim, PhD, tells Bustle. "When in a meeting, your ideas will be taken more seriously if you appear more serious, confident, focused, and mature." So resist the urge to check your phone, for instance, and show that you're there, 100 percent.
15. Always Follow Through
We all get busy or occassionally drop the ball, and that's OK. But doing your best to follow through on all your promises will do wonders when it comes to gaining influence at work. "Do what you say you are going to do, when you are going to do it," Siffring says. "Show up when you say you will. It seems so basic, but being consistent and reliable will make you invaluable to your boss — and guess who will be top of mind when a promotion is available?"
If you do all these things, and show how mature and awesome you are, hopefully it'll be you.
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