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Don’t get labelled as ‘unprofessional’ at work. If you want to be taken seriously so that you get the progress and respect you deserve, being professional at work is vital. Behaving badly by doing any of these 15 things that you should not do at work will get you fired or labelled as ‘unprofessional’. Trust me, this will affect your career growth.

15 Things You Should Not Do at work

 By Catherine Adenle

Know the 15 things you should not do at work. You spend most of your time at work. So it is important that you feel happy and respected there. Organizations commonly have policies and standards of conduct in their employees’ handbook that includes how to behave at work.

As no man is an island in the workplace, you want to make sure that you fall in line with your employer’s expectations.

In the workplace, first and foremost, it is necessary that you do your job and get on with your colleagues so that you are able to communicate, network and maintain that perfect work relationship needed for collaborations. This required professional expectation and accord in work relationships will get affected if you do any of these 15 things you should not do at work as stated below:

1. Don’t be a sloppy dresser.

Your appearance at work is important. So, the first of the 15 things you should not do at work is to be a sloppy dresser. Be work appropriate in your dressing. Many companies require that employees adhere to their strict dress code, such as business professional or business casual. Altering or downright disobeying the dress code as laid down by your organisation is unprofessional and disrespectful. Some organizations encourage comfortable attire on Fridays, but that doesn’t mean you should always slum it every Friday.

2. Don’t be snobbish.

You may not be a ‘people person’ but at work, you have to be friendly. If you walk around with your nose up and a sour expression and fail to make eye contact with your colleagues, in no time, you’ll earn a negative reputation. Smile, it’s free. If you hate people, work alone by yourself in your own home.

3. Don’t be a bully.

This is a key point of the 15 things you should not do at work. Picking on anyone, calling them names, belittling them or criticizing them is a no-no and it makes you a raging bully. In the workplace, that’s bullying, and can be grounds for dismissal. Moreover, you aren’t likely to win many friends when people worry they may be your next target.

4. Don’t discriminate.

This is yet another major thing out of the 15 things you should not do at work. Age, sexual orientation, race, religion or any type of discrimination at your workplace is wrong and forbidden. Respect other employees’ differences, even if you don’t condone another colleague’s lifestyle or beliefs. Don’t ever refer to their race, gender, sexual orientation, age or joke about their belief.

5. No TMI (Too Much Information).

At work, it’s best to keep yourself in check and not tell people your life history, the story of your unbearable divorce woes or sex life escapades. Keep conversations friendly and professional and keep the drama to yourself.

6. Don’t discuss salary.

Your blabbing must not include salary discussions. Don’t discuss your salary or any other person’s salary.

7. Don’t disrespect your manager or your manager’s boss, or any other manager.

Simply don’t go there – it never ends well and you will not win. Above all, it reflects badly on regardless of who is right or wrong.

See 20 Ways to Be Indispensable at Work (Infographic)

8. Do not spend your work time checking Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

You are paid to get a job done; you better do the work and spend your own free time on Social Media sites.

9. Don’t use the office phone like it’s your personal phone.

When you’re at work, phone calls should be work-related. In most offices, it’s acceptable to have some personal interactions on the phone, but keep it to a minimum and be reasonable.

10. Don’t talk before you think and don’t talk for talking sake.

If your mouth is faster than your head, then always watch what you say. Blabbing inappropriately and unnecessarily just to hear your own voice will annoy other people. Speak up only if you’re adding something of value to the discussion. If you have nothing to add, just keep quiet and listen to the others.

How to Be a Good Employee

11. Don’t steal or borrow without informing anyone.

Well, I bet you don’t need anyone to tell you this. This is another act out of the 15 things not to do at work that can have dire consequences on your professional image. Stealing is just wrong, plain and simple! Stealing anything from anywhere in the office will not be condoned by any organization. If you are caught stealing from the office, you will get fired and you may land yourself in prison.

12. Don’t shout, yell or fight at work, unless you are a wrestler.

Regardless of how angry or upset you get, don’t get abusive, lay hands on anyone, shout loudly on top of your voice or yell at anyone. It isn’t acceptable and you will look like a bully who lacks self-control.

13. Don’t hit on anyone or touch anyone regardless of how much you fancy them.

Hitting on or touching any of your attractive colleagues who may not be as keen may be misconstrued as sexual harassment. If you love your job, then try to love someone other than your colleague.

14. Don’t Brown-Nose.

Think about the message you’re giving the rest of your colleagues. You are insinuating that without kissing someone’s backside, you can’t progress. What happened to do great work and adding value? Remember, no one likes the teacher’s pet in school. The best thing to do is focus on your work, respect your manager but don’t follow him around like a puppy while carrying his briefcase as you fetch him coffee or give him a foot massage instead of doing the job he delegated to you.

15. Don’t make pulling sickies a habit.

Whatever you do, don’t be known as the King or Queen of Sickies. Agreed, there might be days when you wake up and the last thing you want to do is go to the office. The easiest excuse anyone can make is falling sick unexpectedly. If you turn this to a habit, it will affect your work. In addition, your manager and colleagues will see through your lies and know that you are faking.

See the 30 Craziest Excuses for Skipping Work

Remember, good office conduct is important when interacting with co-workers and clients.

Polite behaviour between staff creates a pleasant work environment for all. The display of any negative attitude can cause misunderstandings and resentment, which can create a major hostile workplace.

Work Appropriate: How Not to Behave on the Job

Now that you have explored these 15 things you should not do at work, what can you add to the list. Let’s hear from you, leave a comment below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle

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