When you’re a kid, you don’t yet have the tools that help process actions and your emotions – tools like maturity, patience or looking at the context of a situation. By the time you reach adulthood, you should have a better grasp on what’s appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
Now, we’re all human. We all do something a little immature every now and again. But if childish behaviors go on long enough to become habits, they could be a serious risk to your career. Some habits to avoid include:
1. Not respecting common areas
Shared kitchens or bathrooms at the office are great, and you should feel comfortable taking advantage of them when need be. But always keep in mind that they’re not there just for you alone.
“No one wants to be branded as the person who leaves rancid food in the fridge for weeks, or who takes the carpool spot after driving in alone or who is always late to a meeting and holds up the team,” says Darchelle Nass, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administrative at Addison Group.
If you want to avoid earning an unfavorable reputation, Nass suggests doing a little planning. “In the common spaces, respect the rules of the road. If you have trouble remembering to bring food items home, set a task to remind you at the end of the day each week. Plan to arrive a few minutes earlier in the morning and consider co-workers’ schedules and time as much as your own. Being prompt and respectful of co-workers’ times will land you an edge up.”
2. Being unhelpful
One of the most central factors in an individual’s perceived maturity is their ability to see things from other people’s points of view. If you’re not willing to go above and beyond to help your teammates, not only are you keeping your team from achieving its potential – you’re also showcasing your own immaturity.
“One of the most common bad habits I see in the workplace is a ‘not my problem’ attitude. People with this attitude shirk responsibilities outside of their specific assignments and place their own goals above others’, including their teams’ and even their organizations’. They aren’t team players and help others only when it clearly benefits themselves as well,” says Christopher K. Lee, founder and career consultant at PurposeRedeemed. “It’s easy to see how this type of behavior won’t win many friends. These individuals are seen as self-centered, short-sighted, unhelpful and inconsiderate.”
3. Blaming others
Everyone makes mistakes, and you’re likely to make a few throughout your career. When something goes wrong or doesn’t quite pan out as expected, you may feel tempted to point the finger in someone else’s direction. That’s a bad idea.
“This is a quick way to burn bridges. People will think you cannot be trusted and will avoid giving you work. No one will ask you for a favor if they think you’ll turn on them. The workplace is about supporting each other, and blaming others is the antithesis of that,” says Jason Patel, former career ambassador at the George Washington University and the founder of Transizion, a college and career prep company that is focused on closing the opportunity divide in America.
4. Not being prepared in meetings
Nobody likes meetings – particularly unproductive meetings. If you show up for a meeting without taking some time in advance to prepare, you slow down the process and earn the ire of everyone present.
“Often new employees will arrive to a meeting with no intention of walking away with actionable items for themselves or others,” says Scott Fish, founder of 32° Digital Marketing. “If you are running the meeting, set the expectation that people should come prepared to provide input, delegate and recognize their own valuable input that can be made on a project.”
Great teams are built on trust and respect, and there are few ways to erode that foundation more quickly than by spreading rumors and talking negatively about co-workers behind their back.
“People love to talk in the workspace because it makes the day go by quicker, but if those conversations veer toward the gossip side it will crater your perception in the workplace. There is a big difference between being the friendly co-worker who is always good for a quick chat and the sneaky troublemaker constantly spreading rumors,” says Justin Hussong, the founder of Heat Checks, a new sports/travel publication.
“People will eventually catch on, and your words will find their way back to you. If you care about your job and want to get ahead, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re trying to cut others down for your own benefit. It suggests that you’re not a team player and is never a good idea.”
In some cases, a little immaturity can be a harmless way to let off some steam, and can even help co-workers bond. Maintaining your “inner child” is generally considered a good thing – but that doesn’t mean you should let your inner child take the wheel, especially when the result can be damaging to your career.
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