27 September 2023

Business behaviour: Workplace behaviours you should avoid

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Travis Bradberry* says that sometimes the most innocent interactions at work can leave you permanently branded in a negative light.

No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished, your behaviour can forever cast you in a negative light.

We’ve all heard of (or seen firsthand) people doing some pretty crazy things at work.

You don’t have to throw a chair through a window or quit in the middle of a presentation to cause irreparable damage to your career.

Honest mistakes often carry hard-hitting consequences.

Little things can add up over time and undermine your career just as much as (or more than) one huge lapse in judgment.

Self-awareness is a critical skill in the workplace.

If you remain self-aware, these mistakes are all things that you can control before they creep up on you and damage your career.

Over-promising and under-delivering:

It’s tempting to promise the moon to your colleagues and your clients, especially when you believe you can do it.

However, there’s no point in creating additional pressure that can make you look bad.

The moment you promise something to someone, they expect nothing less.

You end up looking terrible when you fall short.

Yet you could have done the same quality work in the same amount of time with great results if you’d just set up realistic expectations.

Don’t deliberately undershoot your goals; just be realistic about the results you can deliver.

Having an emotional hijacking:

My company comes across far too many instances of people throwing things, screaming, making people cry, and other signs of emotional hijacking.

It’s an easy way to get fired, because people will question whether or not you’re capable of keeping it together when it counts.

Exploding at anyone turns a huge amount of negative attention your way.

You’ll be labelled as unstable, unapproachable, and intimidating.

When you are able to control your emotions around someone who wrongs you, they end up looking bad instead of you.

Sucking up to your boss:

Some people suck up to their boss and call it managing up, but that isn’t the case.

Sucking up has nothing to do with a real relationship built on respect.

Suck-ups try to get ahead by stroking the boss’s ego instead of earning his or her favour.

That doesn’t go over well with colleagues who are trying to make it on merit.

You want to bolster your relationship with your boss, but not by undermining your colleagues.

Eating smelly food:

Unless you happen to work on a ship, your colleagues are going to mind if you make the entire place smell like day-old fish.

Anything with an odour that might waft beyond the kitchen door should be left at home.

It might seem like a minor thing, but smelly food is inconsiderate and distracting — and so easily avoidable.

Your pungent lunch tells everyone that you just don’t care about them, even when you do.


This is a huge source of strife in the workplace.

One of the most frequent forms of backstabbing is going over someone’s head to solve a problem.

People typically do this in an attempt to avoid conflict, but they end up creating even more conflict as soon as the victim feels the blade.


Sometimes when you’re feeling negative and down, your mood can leak out and affect other people, even if you don’t intend it to.

People who spread negativity through their department complicate things for everyone else.


People make themselves look terrible when they get carried away with gossiping about other people.

Wallowing in talk of other people’s misdeeds or misfortunes may end up hurting their feelings if the gossip finds its way to them.

Gossiping will make you look negative and spiteful every time.


When someone hits a home run and starts gloating as they run the bases, it’s safe to assume that they haven’t hit very many home runs.

On the other hand, if they hit a home run and simply run the bases, it conveys a business-as-usual mentality, which is far more intimidating to the other team.

Accomplishing great things without bragging about them demonstrates the same strong mentality — it shows people that succeeding isn’t unusual to you.

Announcing that you hate your job:

Complaining about how you hate your job labels you as a negative person and brings down the morale of the group.

Bosses are quick to catch on to naysayers who drag down morale, and they know that there are always enthusiastic replacements waiting around the corner.

This type of behaviour may sound extreme and highly inconsiderate, but it has a tendency to sneak up on you.

A gentle reminder is a great way to avoid it completely.

*Travis Bradberry is the co-founder of TalentSmart, a provider of emotional intelligence tests, training and certification. He can be contacted at TalentSmart.com.

This article first appeared on the TalentSmart website.

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