Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.” – Karen Joy Fowler
“Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.” – Benjamin Disraeli
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” – Emily Post.
It is understood that our future success and career depend on a variety of things. These include our skills, knowledge, emotional intelligence, global citizens, and many other things. But it also depends on interpersonal relationships and our knowledge of how to behave in certain contexts.
So apart from possessing a suitable skillset, you also need to understand how you should behave in a workplace to become successful and avoid problems. So, let us have a look at one of the most important things that you should avoid doing while at work.
Be on Time and Do Not Allow Yourself to Be Late
Whether you must attend an important meeting or simply show up for work, make every effort to arrive on time. You may ask – what is wrong with arriving a little late sometimes? Well, the answer is simple: if you are late, even if you think you are actually “a little late,” this demonstrates to others that you do not value their time. This can be very disruptive both for your career and building positive relations with your colleagues.
So, if it is difficult for you to be on time, try to analyse the situation. Try to find out what causes you to be late. Is there any compelling reason? Is there anything that is difficult to notice? Are you staying up late? Do you get enough sleep? Do you have any other problems that may disrupt your sleep? If you feel like it is difficult for you to get up early in the morning, try to go to bed earlier. Very often this tactic works and solves all your problems with tardiness.
Or the problem may be your procrastination – the tendency to put off important and pending tasks until the last minute or not do them at all. Although many people can analyse the reasons for their procrastination and break the vicious cycle of constantly putting things off, if you are struggling, make an appointment with a counsellor and tell them about your struggles.
Avoid Gossip About Colleagues at All Costs
Gossip can be severely disruptive to your work routine and your relationships with your co-workers. Truth be told there is a certain ambivalence on the part of employers when it comes to dealing with workplace gossip. Some of them understand that it may indeed affect employees’ productivity. But at the same time, some employers realize that little gossip, which does not hurt anyone, can help employees get along and in fact may contribute to positive relations at work.
However, this should not make you feel like gossip is something that should be acceptable and tolerated at work. Very often, even the most innocuous gossip may get out of control and become something nobody expected it to be. When this happens, there are many negative things that may occur. Employees may be stressed and experience anxiety. The work environment may become poisoned by tension and conflict. Gossip that has spiralled out of control may negatively affect friendships, destroy their trust, and make people feel alienated from one another.
So, to avoid these things every employee should make their own contribution to prevent gossip from taking place. Do not take part in any conversations that you deem as gossip and try to nip it in the bud.
Do not lie to your co-workers as well as your boss. It does not matter whether you are using lies as a means of covering for someone else or yourself, lying is always a bad idea. And if your lie is discovered (and most often it is discovered) the consequences may be highly negative. Your reputation will be questioned, and your boss will not trust you anymore.
Likewise, if your manager discovers that you had lied, they will always perceive you as an untrustworthy person. And if you are looking for career advancement, this is a serious thing that will hamper your career.
If you have already lied to your boss, try to avoid exacerbating the situation. Do your best not to extend the lie. When you are caught lying, you may automatically and even unwittingly decide to lie again – but that is going to make your situation worse. Instead of lying again, simply apologize. Make sure that your apologies sound genuine and that your boss understands that you are feeling remorse. And then offer a plan of action to remedy the situation.
Avoid Volunteering All the Time
Yes, this piece of advice may seem counterproductive, but if you think about it well, it makes sense. Of course, it is possible that if you do more than you are supposed to, your boss may like you and even consider a promotion in the future. So why should you never accept too much work or volunteer to do things? The other side of your volunteering all the time is that other workers may take advantage of you. You can also lose all your energy and end up with burnout. So do not spread yourself too thin and carefully consider what extra work is worth taking and what is not.
Avoid Reacting While Upset
This is an especially important piece of advice. And it is linked to your emotional intelligence. Indeed, things at work can become intense and difficult to deal with. This is especially likely to happen if you are working at a high-pressure job. If something falls through or when you are given negative feedback by your boss, do not let your negative emotions grab hold of you. Avoid taking things personally. Do not be a person with a short fuse. If it is difficult for you, you will have to learn how to do that. In other words, you will have to make yourself become more emotionally intelligent. Otherwise, if you let your emotions get in the way of your work you may earn a bad reputation, which will also hamper your career development.
Another undesirable emotional reaction that you may want to learn how to control is complaining. Yes, things may become frustrating at work, but it does not mean that you must spread these emotions around the office. Your colleagues do not want to have a co-worker who is always complaining and makes them stressed and upset. What is important to understand is that if you feel upset about something at work – you should not bottled up your emotions either. Most workplaces have a counsellor where you can vent your emotions. If your place of work does not provide counselling support, then you could talk to your friends and share their feelings with them. They will be more supportive, and they will be able to help you look at the situation from a unique perspective. It is also important to focus on the things that you are in control of and stay positive (even though it seems impossible or difficult).
It is particularly important to think well in advance before you do something at work. Of course, there are other things that you should avoid doing and they include things such as: coming to work when you are sick (it is especially dangerous considering the recent COVID pandemic) or calling in sick when you are not sick. Or the fact that you should not spend too much time on social media or look at things online unrelated to your duties while at work – as there is a good chance that someone may be keeping track of what you do and what websites you visit.
Some things that you should avoid doing may seem obvious to you, but many people are still falling into the same trap. Do not follow their example and you will achieve success in your professional and personal life.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.