Have you ever had a co-worker whose behavior was what you would consider appropriate to a work environment? There are many types of behavior that could be considered just that. Why people engage in these behaviors varies from individual to individual, but regardless of motivation, the distractions, and even tensions, they create can hurt productivity and morale.
Some DON’Ts for the Workplace
For example, do you know someone whose sole purpose at work seems to be telling all the latest gossip about co-workers? Gossip is not only hurtful to the person being talked about, but it also is very unprofessional. It can even result in a valuable team member leaving the company because of tales (often inaccurate) being spread about them. We think of bullying as a schoolyard problem, but isn’t gossiping just an extension of this? Bullying at work is not unheard of, and it’s just as devastating.
Having your cell phone out while you are at work isn’t appropriate behavior either unless your job tasks require it. If you can’t quit texting and/or calling your family, friends, etc., then why are you at work? You need to be doing the work that your employer is paying you to do. Constant interruptions lower your productivity and increase your chance of making errors, even if you don’t stop to take the call or answer the text.
Another behavior guaranteed to annoy colleagues is blaming others for your mistakes. If you mess up, admit your error, apologize, and then see what you can do to correct the situation. Putting the blame on others destroys your credibility as a professional (especially if your manager or supervisor discovers your lie) and breaks the trust that lets your team function smoothly.
Poor personal grooming or unprofessional attire can also cause problems in the workplace. If you don’t brush your teeth, shower regularly, and use deodorant daily, it’s not only bad for you, but distracting for those around you. Expressing your personal style is one thing, but wearing clothes that are obviously more appropriate for a club to work is a DON’T. You are a business professional, so you need to dress the part. Remember that standards can vary depending on what tasks you handle and whether you’re working directly with clients. Be prepared to accommodate changing roles.
It’s About Respect
Most of these behaviors have a common theme: they show a lack of respect for yourself, for the comfort of colleagues, or for the needs of your employer. This may not be the message you intend to send, but that won’t stop unprofessional behavior from undermining your credibility and limiting your success. By maintaining a work-appropriate appearance and behaving in a professional manner, you show your commitment to yourself and your career.