Careers are not easy to build. Unfortunately there is no clear roadmap to success that highlights an exact process to follow that will guarantee us a fruitful and happy career and life. However, there are steps that we can take to help increase our chances.
Throughout my career so far, I have made and observed others make a great number of mistakes. I have also accomplished and watched others do some really great and important things successfully which resulted in significant business, career and personal advancement.
When I look back at my career and life and those of others who I either personally know or have followed through the media, there are six things that stand out in my mind as the most devastating and irreversible mistakes we can make in our professional and personal lives.
Here are the 6 things you should never do at work:
1. React to ANYTHING out of rage or spite
I’m sure you remember Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who in 2010 dramatically quit his job and made a scene by sliding down the emergency exit of a flight he was working prior to its takeoff. He was arrested and burned not only the bridge with JetBlue or any airline for that matter, but is probably not too likely to be considered a serious candidate by many organizations because of his very public, unprofessional, and explosive resignation.
Since most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work we will undoubtedly face times of anger, frustration, fear, and the whole range of emotions that make us who we are. As much as it is important to be genuine and honest with our colleagues, and ourselves, it is important that we do so respectfully of everyone around us and of the place where we work.
When faced with a challenging situation, take time to internalize it and cool off before reacting. An adverse reaction out of anger or spite rarely accomplishes anything positive both at work and in our personal lives.
If you’ve ever read Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habbits of Highly Effective People, or Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, you might remember that the most immediate and efficient way to get a point across to someone is rarely the most effective at getting the results we hope for.
2. Betray your coworkers or friends
Remember the expression your parents hammered into your head you while you were growing up?
“Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.”
Well that applies to the people we work with too.
Unfortunately I see it, or should I say hear it almost everyday. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past, and it’s not something that I’m proud of. I hear people mocking and sabotaging the reputation and careers of their coworkers, bosses talking poorly about employees to other employees, and people putting down friends behind their backs. No one is immune to this and few can honestly say that they’ve never committed any of these workplace social crimes.
The bottom line is that gossiping about others shows a sever lack of integrity on the part of those partaking in the gossip. Talking behind someone’s back never justly resolves any real issues.
Betraying your friends and colleagues is an intentional and malicious act that in the long run will come back to haunt you.
“What goes around comes around.”
Sorry for all the clichés, but rom my experience this is 100% true.
3. Bring your personal baggage to the office
We all have lives outside of work and at times our personal lives can be demanding and taxing on our physical, emotional and mental states. Seeing as many of us develop strong friendships with our colleagues at work, it can be easy at times to talk to them about personal matters during work hours.
The problem that this creates is that now not only are we ourselves distracted with our issues, but we are now distracting our work friends and keeping them from doing their jobs also. We are all human and can have trouble separating our personal state of mind from our professional state of mind, but by continuing to bring our personal affairs into the office with us, we are hurting not only our chances of success, but the chances of our close colleagues.
If you wish to share your personal challenges with a colleague whom you trust, then only do so outside of business hours or on breaks. If your problems become too hard to manage, seek professional help. The benefits, both personal and professional, that you can realize by seeking the help of a therapist, counselor, or coach will often times surprise you in a very positive way.
Most of us lie because we are hiding truths. We hide these truths because we are either afraid of certain consequences or because we feel that the will do us more harm than good and that we will get further ahead by telling a lie.
The issue with this is that when you lie you are accepting the truth as a weakness. Rather than facing the truth and growing as an individual, you are choosing to avoid reality and run from your challenges.
In the workplace and in our personal lives, it takes a lot of energy and focus to keep up with the lies we tell. What I’ve learned from my past mistakes is that the truth usually comes out eventually. If you lie about your experience to get a job, the truth will come out when you start your new role and appear lost or make certain mistakes that you would have avoided if you had the skills and experience you claimed to have.
When we lie about something today, we are jeopardizing our credibility, reputation, and possibilities for tomorrow.
5. Complain about your job, company, or coworkers
Before my corporate career, I worked as a sales rep for a large national electronics retail chain to pay for my schooling. After working at the company for 3 years the company was taken over by an even larger retail chain from the U.S. who decided to change the commission structure. The new structure made it harder for me and the other sales reps to earn what we had become accustomed to.
In my displeasure I started complaining to my colleagues and manager about how I hated the new changes and how unhappy they were making me rather than focusing on selling more. Eventually I was let go because my sales started to drop and my toxic attitude became a liability for the company. I was left to scramble to find a new job.
Were I to have been more respectful and approached the situation from a different angle, such as talking about my aspirations and what I enjoyed most and were most successful at in my job, perhaps I could have negotiated an increase in my base salary or even a promotion to Assistant Manager.
“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
These days corporations are placing more and more importance on company culture. If you make it a habit to speak negatively about your company or it’s management you are not doing yourself any favors.
The next time you feel like you’ve reached a dead-end in your job, rather than expressing your displeasure to your boss or coworkers, try to work with your manager to find ways that you can advance with the current company. Highlight the strengths that you’ve demonstrated on the job and try to find a solution for one of your company’s current challenges. I know many people who succeeded at creating exciting new roles for themselves by presenting an innovative option to their managers. It may not work every time, but it’s worth a try. If it doesn’t work then you are no further behind from where you started and you can then decide what your next step should be.
Whatever the situation, you will get further ahead in life by communicating respectfully and effectively with others.
6. Burn your bridges
Have you heard of the saying“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?”
There are few things truer than that!
I’ve learned that the single most influential element to success in business is really the people who we build relationships with. Having the right skills and abilities is extremely important to achieving your goals and growing both in business and as individuals, but you still need the help of others along the way.
Everyone we work with today might one day either need our help or be able to help us. If we treat others with respect and are genuine towards them we are able to form many potential powerful relationships with our bosses, our employees, our coworkers, our mentors, people we meet at events, and anyone really.
We don’t have to befriend everyone. Although we should choose our friends carefully and avoid those whom we feel we can’t trust, we should never burn our bridges.
It sometimes takes just one other person to change the rest of your life, so treat those you encounter with dignity and respect.
What is the worst mistake you’ve made at work, and how did you recover from it?
Read more: What I Learned When I Lost My Job
it is so important to screw your employer every chance you get! True on the job happiness can be found. Just keep this in mind and you will be happy and find success. “Your loyalty and commitment towards your work and employer should be every bit as strong as the works loyalty and commitment is to you!” If you go in early, stay late, sacrifice your family and personal life for the success of others, you know what happens then? They fire you or let you go. I have never worked over 40 hours in a week. I use up all my paid sick days every year. I take all of my vacation, I don’t concern myself with the success of others, I balance my check book at work, do my nails, do my taxes on the clock, I even read novels in the rest room (you get the idea). I do as many of my personal matters at work on the clock so that I have more time with my family when I leave work. I have never been out of a job, always made great wages and for some crazy reason I keep getting promoted to higher paying positions. No stress, no worry, be happy!! :)
John this is Tom your boss come to my office immediately
wow, all i can say is lucky you!! Ive been with my company for almost 3 years now and I just got “promoted” with only pay salary still in the 30s while this guy that started 1 half year later than me got promoted to higher position and much higher salary !! I came in early, skipped my hour lunch (took 15 min for quick bite) and left late at work, yet still not enough! All i can say is you are very right. That guy does nothing more than come late, take long lunch hour, take breaks here and there, walking around and chatting with others while I worked my butt off and yet, they dont appreciate it., and on top i’ve received more workload on top of my big workload just bc im “promoted”
Never, Ever, discuss your salary with co-workers. What you are paid is between you and H.R, and if H.R. finds out you’ve told, you might get fired. Also, never forget you are being watched via computer monitoring and hidden cameras from the I.T. Department. I got fired from a law firm for sharing personal baggage on the e-mail with a co-worker. I tried to help her solve a boyfriend problem, and lost my job. I think I fell into a trap.
By law you cannot be fired for discussing salary with co-workers. If they do, then you have a lawsuit.
This article is funny to me. I’ve witnessed the coworkers who betray the others are the ones that get promoted quickly. I have never done that. I’ve always watched over the years as managers and coworkers lie, day after day. Sometimes about personal life, sometimes about work. There are no consequences. I have only raised my voice one at work, and it was because I was being fed a bunch of lies that were obvious to slander me because of a personal agenda. It would have been of poor character not to raise an objection. The funny thing about expressing your distaste about your job. I was in one job for 6 years and expressed to management I wanted to do something else year after year, I even got graduate degrees to display it. After a reorg, I was put under a VP that made it clear, he didn’t like my type in the department. So my desires were ignored, year after year. I looked for another job and was offered another job in New York when I finished yet another degree, and expressed the same sentiment, that I had to my company, after 5 years of being ignored. They were livid when I said I was leaving. They expressed openly what had been expressed passively for years. They didn’t want me to leave the position that I had done so well in and trained others in. And they didn’t change that dynamic. According to this article, the EEOC must not exist, so no one should ever file a complaint. Or what if you don’t complain, the coworkers are so unbearable that you try to move and you’re blocked? Basically this article is describing what was expected on slaves in the 1800’s. Always love Master, no what he does to you. Because, Master is the hand that feeds you because of the laws of society. I don’t believe anything in this article.
Don’t forget: look up porn, and leaving stupid comments on yahoo.
This is a joke, right?
In 54 years in the workplace I’ve seen the people who lie, backstab, and whose personal drama disrupts work become managers. People who work hard and try to help the company are the ones who get screwed, if not fired. There’s a ton of studies that explain the different aspects of this, but corporate America has no incentive to change. Employees are easy to come by to take your place, so they figure they’ll just hire someone else to get the job done. It’s a numbers game and like Spring Cleaning to them. Get fresh people and hope the problem goes away. But they refuse to bounce the manager because that gives the people who promoted him in the first place a black eye.
The best way to survive a job in Corporate America is to get your boss tickets or other free stuff, and pretend to empathize with his pet paranoia theories on marriage, cars, Canada being a military threat to us. . .You get the idea. And then look at his buddies in the office and follow their lead. They get away with murder because he’s insecure and needs “office friends” to feel good about himself. Get in with them. Also, look at the people with longevity who don’t do anything: Get in with them also.
Hard, loyal workers get screwed because the rest of the office ostracizes them, and they’ll go after them with rumours and sabotage. Also, the person who took a managers orders actually did the work. . .So if the manager gets into trouble for his ideas, he just blames the guy that did the work. Period.
I wish I could put “Manager” on my resume: I just haven’t had the title. But over the years I basically did the job for these guys. They’d come in drunk, or spend all afternoon fighting with other manager and employees, holding meetings just to berate people for their own mistakes, or just not show up at all for days at a time. And I ended up
doing the studies, prepping them for meetings because they had no clue what was going on, and running their agendas for them. They were just figureheads. It totally pisses me off.