How To Bomb at Work

Robert Half International

It goes without saying that you want your relationships with coworkers to be as pleasant and productive as possible. After all, your colleagues can help you complete projects more quickly and easily, as well as provide support you need to advance your career. Plus, fostering camaraderie simply makes the time you spend in the office more enjoyable.

To strengthen these bonds, you might offer to lend a hand when others are struggling with heavy workloads, cover for a cube mate who will be on vacation or complete your portion of a team project ahead of schedule.

But have you given thought to actions that might be harming your relationships with coworkers? In some cases, subtle steps you take can be detrimental to your interactions with others. Consider the following six ways you could be rubbing your colleagues the wrong way:

1. Sharing too much information, too often.

It's true informal conversations can help you develop friendships in the office. And when you spend eight hours a day with coworkers, it makes sense that you'd have more than a passing interest in their personal lives. But you don't want to reveal too much at the office water cooler. Recounting details of your rocky dating history or recent argument with your mom could earn you a reputation as a coworker to avoid or even make you a candidate for dismissal, depending on what and how frequently you divulge.

2. Getting too comfortable.

It's nice to feel at ease in your work environment, but avoid letting this relaxed attitude go too far. Don't let your work suffer because you're more interested in perusing the blogosphere or checking Facebook updates than tackling your to-do list. Many companies monitor Internet and e-mail use and can quickly and easily spot unproductive employees. Of course, the higher-ups aren't the only ones noticing; if you're constantly surfing non-work-related sites or making personal calls, your coworkers are likely aware of your behavior and may be annoyed by the extra work they've had to take on as the result of your inefficiency.

3. Relying on technology to communicate your every need.

Technology has no doubt made many aspects of the job easier. But if you've ever played e-mail tag with a colleague, you know it can't solve every problem. Excessive text or e-mail messaging, particularly regarding trivial things, can be inefficient and disruptive to coworkers. Often a phone call or in-person discussion can resolve issues more quickly.

4. Becoming the office tattler.

You'd be wise to promote your skills and accomplishments, but don't do it at the expense of others. You'll have more success impressing your boss by making smart decisions and producing outstanding work than by reporting your colleagues' minor misdeeds. That said, sometimes it is important to inform your manager of a workplace problem: If an issue will affect a deadline, or if someone's output is consistently substandard, for example.

5. Playing favorites.

No one likes a sycophant or a snob. So think twice before going to extreme measures to impress the boss or ignoring those who rank below you on the corporate ladder. At the same time, avoid always calling on your closest workmates to help with plum assignments and delegating all tedious tasks to the same cadre of junior employees. The most respected and well-liked professionals treat everyone, from the department vice president to the office administrative assistant, with the same level of courtesy.

6. Coming to work sick.

You may be tempted to show up at the office when under the weather and try to tough it out. But know that you're not doing anyone a favor by coming to work sick. Your productivity might suffer, and you could put others at risk of catching what you have. The best remedy is to stay at home and rest, if possible. If you must attend to work-related tasks while ill, ask your boss about working from home or, at very least, work in an area of the office where you'll be far removed from other employees.

Sometimes it takes just one bad habit to spoil your professional standing with coworkers. Avoiding these six actions will help prevent good relations from turning sour and ensure your professional image remains in prime standing.

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Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit For additional career advice, follow us on Twitter at

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