The Worst Mistakes You Can Make at Work

The Worst Mistakes You Can Make at Work


We all have witnessed or heard stories of inappropriate workplace behavior—not just everyday mistakes or issues, but the kind of things that get people fired and cause long-term career damage.

You may feel that nothing like that will ever happen to you, but knowledge is the best prevention. Here are nine of the most damaging things you can do on the job:

Losing control of your emotions. Whether you experience frustration, irritation, worry, anger, dislike or unhappiness, learn how to manage your emotions at work constructively. Even if everything you’re feeling is 100 percent justified, emotional outbursts are never appropriate.

Saying one thing and doing another. When you make promises, people hold you accountable. And when you say one thing and do another, people lose trust in you—and once trust is lost, it’s hard to win back. Your reputation depends on keeping your word.

Burning bridges. The things that matter most in the course of your career are the people you work with and the connections you make. The last thing you want to do is burn any of those bridges, however tempting it may be. We live in a small world, and you never know whose help or goodwill you may need down the road.

Gossiping. Gossiping is bad for a multitude of reasons, but it still happens on a regular basis. No matter how bad the consequences, gossip seems to be human nature. But especially when it comes to gossip that does real harm to someone, it accomplishes nothing but making you look negative, vindictive and untrustworthy.

Taking credit for someone else’s work. Taking credit for someone else’s work isn’t just unethical and dishonest, it rarely fools anyone. What people come away with is the sense that you haven’t accomplished anything significant on your own and that you have no respect for your colleagues, making you look even worse.

Backstabbing. Backstabbers specialize in saying wrong things at the wrong time to the wrong people. It may be disguised as assertiveness or self-defense, but backstabbing is incredibly destructive behavior that harms everyone involved and ruins good teams.

Self-aggrandizement. Bragging, even when it’s justified, is seen as a show of weakness more than strength. Confidence is silent and insecurities are loud. It’s always tempting to toot your own horn, especially when you’re proud of something you’ve accomplished. You can make your point more graciously by instead bragging on your co-workers’ role in a successful project.

Lead from within: Some mistakes can be costly, so it’s good to be aware of them and to know your own weaknesses so you can steer clear at work.


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