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5 Bad Habits We Have At Work (But Won't Admit To)

"I love having bad work habits," said no one ever. Whether we know it or not, we all have a bad habit or two in the workplace.


Any bad habit can cause us to make a mistake on the job. If we're not careful, the errors we make at work can cost us our dignity, professional growth, and confidence. It's hard. We as humans don't always like to fess up or admit (even to ourselves) when we've done something wrong.

But here at Work It Daily, we believe in the power of habits—especially good ones. Here are five common bad habits you have at work, and how to break them ASAP.

1. Bad-Mouthing Our Bosses And/Or Co-Workers

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You have to trust us on this one. Bad-mouthing your co-workers or bosses or managers will always disrupt your workplace environment. Why? Chances are, the comment will always find its way back to that person eventually.

And if it doesn't (as far as you know), it will definitely decrease workplace morale.

It can also hurt your career growth. Think about it. What if you were next in line for a promotion or raise, and that very person you spoke ill about was involved in making that decision? Or someone else became aware of your "gossiping" tendencies and reported this feedback to your manager. Will you be moving forward? Probably not.

This is the one bad work habit that will have significant repercussions for your career.

How To Break It: We get it. We're not always big fans of the people we work with, but we don't need to publicize it at work or on social media, either. Vent about it in private or with a person outside of your professional network that you trust. Even though spilling the beans can feel good in the moment, it really can hurt you professionally in the end.

2. Lying About Our Performance

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We've all had moments at work where we just can't perform at our optimal levels. It could be due to stress, sickness, or lack of satisfaction. Still, it's unrealistic to expect ourselves to work at 110% every day of the year. We are humans after all. Not machines.

But lack of productivity can signal a problem if it becomes a habit. It also won't help to lie about the quantity or quality of work we are producing because, chances are, management already has ways of figuring that out (through stats, automation, performance reviews, etc.).

How To Break It: Hone in on the core reasons behind your lack of productivity. Is it external or internal? If you just have loud cubicle mates, for example, take the necessary steps to alleviate these distractions. But if something is wrong personally, ask yourself why?

If you can, take a personal day. Or, if you aren't feeling well, use sick time. If you're just not happy with your job, it's time to make a move.

It's not fair to you or your employer if you're just sitting around and not getting work done but still getting paid. It's also not good for your mental or physical well-being if you're in a career or job you hate. You both deserve better.

3. Not Following "Email Etiquette"

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Have you ever sent an email when you were angry? Or maybe to the wrong people? Or, did you hit "reply all," instead of "reply"?

Be careful about how and when you send your written communications. Chats, emails, social media including. Poor email etiquette is a bad work habit that no one can stand. It can really put a ding in your reputation at work.

How To Break It: Double, triple check your digital communications before you send them. Grammar and language are both important. Since you're communicating via a virtual space, the receiver(s) only have your words to judge. Body cues and tone are absent here. So, anything unprofessional, incorrect, or rude will come back to haunt you.

Also, if you're angry, take a walk around your office, breath deeply, and reassess the email you were so anxiously ready to send.

Most importantly, do not automatically fill in the recipients before finishing the body of the email itself. You may press send accidentally before you've reviewed it. Always place the receiver's contact info as your final step.

4. Lying About What We Know

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Did you ever fear being negatively judged at work? Maybe you thought if you pretended to be an expert on something, it would somehow make you seem cooler, more confident? Then, when a task came up where your "skills" were needed, you failed miserably.

It's always more embarrassing to be caught in a lie than to have made an honest mistake or admit you don't know something. This bad work habit will surely spell trouble for you in the office.

How To Break It: Be truthful from the start. Don't fabricate your credentials. If you are honest, you'll be given a task you can succeed in, thus making you look better in the long-run anyways (because you did well). And, you can increase your opportunities to learn new skills by speaking up and being candid about what you don't know.

5. Not Asking Questions

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If you're not making an effort to ask questions at work, that's a bad habit.

Being on the job doesn't mean everyone around you will expect you to know everything all the time. If you don't ask questions, your co-workers and/or leadership won't know when to help or intervene. Asking for help also doesn't make you look weak or incompetent. In fact, we encourage you to listen to your inner gut when you have questions.

How To Break It: Ask questions. But, do it from a place of, "I'm eager to learn," not "I'm annoyed or frustrated."

Everyone has a few bad work habits. Thankfully, there are easy ways to break them. We hope these suggestions help you break your bad habits today.

Don't forget: career growth is possible when you take a good, honest look at yourself.


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