5 Ways To Make Yourself Look Foolish At Work

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By Nate Steere for

It's hard enough to get ahead at work. You take on extra projects, you pick up new skills to improve your marketability and generally run your legs off every day. However, in the midst of trying so hard to get ahead, are you giving off the impression that you don't get it? Read on for five ways you might be sabotaging yourself and looking foolish at work.


1- Showing up late

If you want to project unreliability, indifference and incompetence in one fell swoop, just start showing up five minutes late for work. We know, we know: five minutes doesn't make that much difference in the amount of work you do each day, right? Guess what: Your boss doesn't care. You two had an agreement: You show up at 9 a.m. each day, do X, Y and Z, and he pays you X amount of money. If you have associates who report to you, and one of them shows up late each day, how does it make you feel? Like the employee is trustworthy and deserves more power/money? Hardly. If you want to get ahead, start giving more than your half of the bargain.

The foolish fix: Get out of bed on time. Better still, show up 15 minutes early and leave 15 minutes late. It's not much, but it will be noticed, and your boss might just add a little something to his side of the equation to equal that little extra you've been giving.


2- Not being prepared

Nobody is saying you need to have everything 100% organized -- obviously you should spend most of your time working, not organizing. However, if it takes you 10 minutes to find the document you need, isn't that a waste of time too? There's a happy medium between a spotless desk and rummaging through stacks of paper looking for a report while Bob from purchasing waits oh-so-patiently next to your desk. Better yet, show up unprepared for your next meeting and give everyone the impression you A) Could care less about their time; and B) Love the sound of your own voice.

The foolish fix: Keep your desk and files organized -- not to perfection, but at least to where they're functional. And meetings are called with an issue in mind, and if you're prepared to present your portion in a quick, organized manner, the meeting ends that much sooner, with you looking like the guy who understands what the issues of the day really are.

3- Bringing your laptop to meetings

This is a tricky one. If you bring your laptop into a meeting, it's true that it sends the impression that you're busy. However, everyone else in the meeting is busy too, you're just sending the message that whatever you're doing on the laptop is "important," and everyone in the room is not. Also, people in the meeting aren't going to assume you're using the laptop to take notes, but to check your e-mails or, much worse, your Facebook wall posts.

The foolish fix: If you really do want to take notes in the meeting (and you should), bring a notepad and a pen or two.

4- Having a "fun" ringtone

If you show up to work with the intention of getting work done, odds are you like your coworkers as just that: coworkers. Sure they're nice people, but you treat one another as professionals, not best friends. That said, when somebody's phone starts playing the new Taylor Swift tune, is your first thought: "Oh, I totally need to download that," or maybe: "Shut that thing up! I'm trying to work here!" Thought so. For best results, have a cute alert for text messages and have it go off every 30 seconds. Better yet, get a raunchy line from a new hardcore rap tune, and have it go off during an important meeting.

The foolish fix: Set your phone to go "ring-ring," and then turn the phone on vibrate. Nobody else needs to know when your phone rings. In fact, the less of your personal business they know the better.

5- Trying to manipulate your boss

Ever heard the old advice on how to control your boss? It's easy: Get promoted twice. Face it, your boss is interested in your opinion, but unless they're totally incompetent there's a reason they're in their job position and you're in yours. Trying to manipulate your boss will make you look like either a kiss-ass or a weasel. And even if your boss is too dim to pick up on it, your coworkers surely will. There are plenty of ways to gain power and take on responsibility at work. Just don't point your Machiavellian wits straight up.

The foolish fix: Work hard. Be known as the guy who gets things done. Be loyal, and be respectful to your boss and your boss' boss. Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. There's always room to move up if you solve problems and make your superiors look good.

corporate clowning

You work too hard to lose ground because of careless mistakes. Be prepared, be professional and keep your mind on your work. You'll be the envy of your clueless coworkers, and the apple of management's eye.

Next: 10 Worst Work Habits >>

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