We all know the signs of bad coworkers: they're malevolent, disrespectful, and uncompromising. But do we recognize those same traits within ourselves?
Most of us drive our coworkers crazy, at least every once and a while. Even if we're embarrassed by our behavior, self-reflection is worth our while. Research conducted by the Carnegie Institute of Technology found that 85% of people's financial success relied on a person's personality, communication skills, and their ability to lead and negotiate.
The ability to collaborate and contribute to a positive work environment impacts our income and career prospects. To become a better coworker, tackle the worst offenders--habits that make everyone at the office hate you--and go from there:
Not all gossip is bad--showing concern for others can relieve stress and contribute to a positive environment. But if you're talking with an emphasis on blame, shame, or resentment, you're poisoning your work environment. As Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant says, one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.
Instead of gossiping behind other people's backs, create transparency. Reach out with genuine concern, either to your supervisor or the employee you're struggling to work with. By asking an HR person to moderate a safe conversation between you and a colleague, you can create actual change. After all, if you don't address issues directly, there's no opportunity for a solution.
A lot of employees fib about small details like that extra sick day or their car breaking down on the way to work. One study showed that we hear as many as 200 lies a day. Lies may seem small, but they can quickly cross the line. With more automated systems managing people and greater transparency with digital platforms, it's more likely that someone will find out you're dishonest.
If some catches you in a lie, don't try to rationalize it. Apologize, explain your motivation, and suggest how you will handle the situation differently next time. Acting from a place of integrity will nurture your confidence over time, transforming your work relationships.
3. Bad Personal Hygiene
Bad personal hygiene puts your coworkers in an awkward position. Do they say something and risk their personal relationship with you, or do they continue to feel uncomfortable at work? Ultimately, personal hygiene reflects your sense of self and worthiness. Taking care of your body and clothes builds a strong foundation for professional growth.
If you're going through a hard time in your life--a divorce, or grieving process--it's natural to lose your motivation for self-care. Maintaining regular showers and even sending your laundry out for cleaning can make a world of difference. If you're unwilling to change your habits, you risk your own employability.
4. Missing Deadlines
Missing deadlines hurts your reputation at work and de-motivates you with feelings of embarrassment and shame. Always try to compensate for missing a deadline--offer to do an extra piece of work or to rush another project. If you're concerned about missing deadlines regularly, set smaller deadlines through a task management system like Asana. It's easier to make progress when you outline bite-sized steps that help to get you to your final destination.
5. Making Excuses
The right kind of excuses can save the day, but only if they are the exception and not the rule. Do you make excuses not here and there but all the time? If so, you need to shape up. Instead of relying on the workforce equivalent of "The dog ate my homework," just apologize. Don't run away from accompanying repercussions--apologize and describe your plan for long-term improvement.
6. Not Cleaning Up After Yourself
As part of a community, you need to clean up after yourself at work. When you use something, put it away. If you spill something in the communal kitchen, clean it up. In an increasingly egalitarian work environment, employers expect everyone to embody respect in their behavior. When you accidentally leave a mess, apologize for your behavior, and try to be considerate moving forward.
The way we talk about our lives shapes our experiences. Constant complaining not only irks your coworkers, it decreases productivity and feeds problems. By harping on the negative, you bring everyone around you down. As leadership coach Rick Tamlyn told Time, "Our life works in the direction of what we think about and talk about. Motivation comes from having a conversation about what we want to create..."
Even if you don't think you're negative, you may be contributing to a disempowered environment. Tamlyn encourages workers to keep a tally of negative moments versus creative or positive moments. Newfound awareness enables you to shift your habits in a new direction.
8. False Sense of Entitlement
A false sense of entitlement may protect you from bad projects, but it can only hurt you in the long-run. Unfortunately, most employees with a sense of employment don't notice their own tendencies. Linda Haines, an executive coach and former HR executive, identifies some key traits of employees with a false sense of entitlement:
If you embody any of these traits at work, your employer should consider letting you go. By expecting more than you give, you unconsciously ask other people to pick up the slack. If you want to keep your job, pivot your entitled thoughts into a healthy self-esteem that honors both your strengths and your weaknesses.
9. Unprofessional at Work Functions
We've all seen a drunk coworker at a work function and cringed. No matter your company or environment, work-related events require discretion. Limit your drinking to a couple beers, and always maintain a professional demeanor. As always, stay away from conflicts and treat all coworkers with kindness and understanding. If you still don't think you know the bounds, take a lead from your boss.
10. Unwilling to Compromise or Listen
There's nothing uglier than someone who won't compromise. Even if you're the boss, you're only as good as the traits you bring out in others. There's no way you can create a successful business without gaining consensus among a group.
If you struggle to listen to others, start by giving people space and time to speak--don't finish their sentences or interrupt. Mirror back team members' ideas and try to create compromise. If you still think compromise is not worth your time, reflect on this statement from Vince Lombardi, arguably the most successful NFL coach in history, "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
Even the most challenging coworkers can change if they're willing to reassess their roles in the office. Start a candid conversation with your boss, HR personnel, and even coworkers about how to become everyone's favorite employee--it might take a while, but we can all get there!