5 surefire ways to lose your co-workers’ respect

Workplace harmony is important to any company’s—or individual’s—success. Here’s how to stay on the good side of your co-workers.

Building a rapport with your co-workers so you can all nicely coexist requires a delicate balance. But some people get a little too comfortable while building a rapport, and it can be to the detriment of their co-workers’ respect.

Here are five little-known factors that can cause your co-workers to lose respect for you:

1. Using the word “try.”

As Brad Hoover wrote on CNN Money, you should not utter this word. It “simply shows a lack of belief, passion, commitment, and confidence—all the qualities you need to succeed in today’s tight job market.” Instead, Hoover suggests using “words like do, believe, act, tackle, accomplish, or succeed.”

2. Saying “that’s not my job.”

In a tight economy, many businesses are frustratingly understaffed. People are taking on the work of former co-workers whose positions have since been eliminated. Since everyone is pitching in and helping in all areas of the business, it can raise stress levels in a workplace when someone declares, “that’s not my job.”

According to an article on Black Enterprise, “As tempting as this may be, protesting that something isn’t in your job description is a surefire way to lose the support of your boss. In reality, most people end up doing work that doesn’t fall within their job descriptions, and your best bet is to have a can-do attitude.”

3. Being best friends with the boss.

Some people look at a co-worker who tries to get close to the boss as a “brownnoser,” or someone who isn’t playing fairly—especially if other co-workers have a hard time getting close to him or her.

Co-workers may grow to feel threatened by your close relationship with the boss and start to lose trust in sharing confidential items, or even simple frustrations of the day, with you.

Finally, co-workers may lose respect for you for growing close to the boss if they think you’re doing it just to get that great promotion or salary bump. People get frustrated when they perceive someone as having an advantage over everyone else.

If you’re friends with the boss outside of work, try to keep the close conversations to a minimum in the workplace and allow the boss to treat you and all co-workers equally (as far as the perception of others is concerned).

4. Wearing revealing clothing.

Come on, ladies! There’s no faster way to lose the respect of co-workers, especially as a woman, than to wear revealing clothing to work. Many women who wear suggestive clothing have no idea about the insults that fly behind their backs, and the snide remarks co-workers make as they leave the room. Most co-workers perceive dressing this way as highly unprofessional.

5. Being a bully.

As the post “Five Surprising People Who Are Hurting Your Career” discusses, “a co-worker, boss or even a lowly intern—anyone who uses schoolyard tactics to scare people away from an opportunity qualifies as a workplace bully. The bully will start rumors about company layoffs or complain about how it’s impossible to find a job.”

What’s interesting is that these bullies sometimes don’t realize they’re bullying. If gossip is second nature to them, talking about company layoffs might just seem like a conversation topic that will earn them attention and make them seem in the know.

But be careful about gossiping and throwing your words around, as people do listen. There’s no need to inspire fear in the workplace. It won’t do you any favors to be associated with negative news.

In general, tread carefully to avoid losing the respect of your co-workers. While this can be a lot to take in, we all need to guard and manage our workplace reputations carefully—our careers and workplace relationships depend on it.

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics, from digital marketing strategies to online reputation management for websites like Reputation.com. This article first appeared on Brazen Life, a career blog for young professionals.


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