10 Bad Behaviors You Should Stop Doing at Work

You may have a hard time advancing in your profession with bad work behaviors that reflect negatively on you.
Updated April 3, 2023
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We all have those days when we aren’t our best at work.

For some, that may mean showing up late because of traffic or taking an extra long lunch. But there are others whose bad behaviors could reflect negatively on their day-to-day tasks. Employees who do these things may miss out on promotions and their chance to stop living paycheck to paycheck, or derail their long-term success in a career.

Here are some things to watch out for if you’re worried about your work behavior hurting your career.

Showing up late

Elnur/Adobe young male employee in time management

Being late for work could be an easy habit to slide into. Perhaps you are just a few minutes late one day here or there, and the next thing you know, you’re showing up a half hour late each morning.

Showing up late is an easy way to show bad behavior, which is why it could be hard to get away with it without others noticing.


Liubomir/Adobe surprised and shocked businessman in the office

It doesn’t take much to complain about work you have to do or things that may be going wrong at your office, but constant complaining could be a turn-off for your co-workers.

Instead of being the negative one who drags the office down with your constant whining, try to find some positive things to mention to co-workers and compliment those in your office when they do a good job.

Time-off requests

Peera/Adobe traveler asian woman relax in hammock

Finding a balance when it comes to time-off requests may be difficult, especially in companies that offer “unlimited paid time off.” But it’s important to figure out the best approach for your requests.

Think about how often you request time off. Perhaps you’re taking too many vacation days, putting an extra burden on your co-workers. Or maybe you’re never taking vacation days, which could cause burnout or a negative attitude. 

You also want to consider when you’re asking for time off, and try not to plan your vacation days during big deadlines or the busiest times of the year.

Having an ego

Innovated Captures/Adobe  businesswoman in an office looking disgusted

Before you start telling everyone you’re the greatest employee in the world, you may want to take a step back. Boasting to others about any number of things, both professional and personal, could get tiresome for your coworkers and your boss.

You may not want to hide your achievements completely, because talking to your supervisor about what you’ve accomplished is a good thing for your career. But going overboard and constantly bragging about yourself may not be a good way to score points with your boss.

Claiming credit for others’ work

Rido/Adobe businessman giving presentation with colleagues

Did your team meet a huge goal and you claim you led it? Or maybe a coworker received a compliment for a project many people worked on?

Success in the office should be celebrated, but don’t take credit for someone else’s work as a way to steal their compliments and recognition. It’s not a bad thing for others to be applauded for their work, and perhaps it could be a good way to motivate you to achieve more.

Not owning mistakes

Andrey Popov/Adobe dissatisfied worker job interview

Just as you shouldn’t take credit for others’ work, you also shouldn’t make others take the blame for your mistakes. Missteps can happen in any profession. Perhaps there was an error in a report or a client’s order. Maybe you had a mix-up in communication. Whatever the issue, it’s good to own up to a mistake and then resolve it.

Your boss may be upset about the issue you caused, but they also might respect the fact that you took responsibility for your error and found a good way to fix the problem.

Using vulgar language

New Africa/Adobe boss screaming at employee in office

Swearing may be something you like to do with friends or while watching sporting events on the weekends. But when you clock in at work, you should probably leave that type of language behind. 

There are ways to convey your thoughts, ideas, or feedback at work using more professional language that can earn you respect than some of your more colorful vocabulary.

Running a side hustle

Kanazawa photo base/Adobe young man using a computer with dual monitor

There are plenty of great ways to make extra money like a side hustle or hobby-turned-moneymaker. But those projects are things that should remain on the side.

No employer would be pleased if you made transactions, ordered inventory, built products, or did anything else for your side hustle while you’re being paid by someone else.

Anger issues

stokkete/Adobe angry stressed office worker overloaded with paperwork

There are times when you may get extremely frustrated by something not working right in your office or things not coming together the way they should. An occasional outburst might be unavoidable, and they can get the best of us.

But constantly yelling at your employees or coworkers about minor issues will not earn you respect from those in your office. If you find that you’re raising your voice regularly, it may be time to take a step back and adjust your responses to be more appropriate for a professional setting.

Not cooperating

Jacob Lund/Adobe group of multicultural designers having a meeting in an office

“Works well with others” is praise that begins in kindergarten, and it never stops. In some jobs, you may feel like you’re working in isolation, and that could be good if you’re someone who prefers to work alone. But most positions, even working remotely, may require teamwork to get a task done.

Just like school teachers, companies value a worker’s ability to work well with coworkers or clients. If you’re not a team player, you may need to find a position in which you can work alone. But to get ahead in your career, it’s best to find ways to become more comfortable working with coworkers and clients.

Bottom line

Svitlana/Adobe group of young mixed race business people working together

It may be a good idea to assess your current work behavior to see what you’re doing right or where you can improve. Perhaps a change in jobs or a change in attitude could help steer you back on the right path to productive behavior. 

And don’t be afraid to consider retiring early if you think that could improve your view of both your professional and personal life.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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