Life in America: Ten Mistakes to Avoid When At Work

You nailed the interview (we knew you would) and you got the beautiful phone call telling you the job was yours. Now how keep that awesome job? Avoid these classic blunders:

  1. Getting to work late. Sometimes, it just happens—there’s a transit strike or your car breaks down, and you’re late for work. But forgetting to set your alarm clock or hitting the snooze button too many times is a big problem. Showing up late (especially if it happens often) makes you seem lazy and unreliable. No boss wants that guy or gal handling important clients or large sums of money.
  2. Not asking for help. If you’re new on the job, you want to show that you’re competent and smart, but sometimes the pressure keeps new hires from asking for help. That’s when job performance can suffer. Don’t worry about asking a dumb question. It will look worse if you make a huge mistake because you didn’t find out the answer to something simple.
  3. Showing off, being too eager. It’s great to show enthusiasm for a new job and of course it’s important to do well. But nobody likes the guy who HAS to get everything in four days earlier than everyone else and who continually volunteers to take on extra work and who is constantly seeking approval. Be good at your job, and let your work speak for itself.
  4. Not admitting you made a mistake. If you realized you screwed something up, don’t just hope it goes unnoticed. It will get traced back to you. Let someone know you made a mistake as soon as you realize it so that it can be fixed.
  5. Not being receptive to feedback. If a supervisor or your boss gives you some criticism or advice about your performance, don’t get defensive. Show that you care by listening openly to their feedback. Ask questions if you have any, but be mindful that your tone doesn’t sound argumentative or annoyed.
  6. Being anti-social, or being too social. A workplace isn’t necessarily a place to make friends (though it can be,) but a certain kind of camaraderie does develop, so try to be a member of the team and socialize with people from work and be pleasant in general. But don’t waste work time to chat about personal matters, and don’t distract others from getting their work done.
  7. Talking about controversial topics. You never know what someone’s religious or political views are, so keep these out of the work environment. You could inadvertently offend someone.
  8. Losing your cool. Sometimes people get stressed by the workload or frustrated with an incompetent co-worker, but having a freak-out and yelling at someone at work is inexcusable. Stay calm and express yourself in a diplomatic and clear way.
  9. Sloppy attention to emails. It’s easy to make silly mistakes when it comes to email, but those silly mistakes can add up and make you look like a space cadet. Always reread an email before you send. Remember to add the correct attachments. Recheck the email address of the recipients. Spell check. Spell check. Spell check.
  10. Complaining about work, at work or in public. If you have negative things to say about work or the people you work with, those conversations should happen in the privacy of your home, not at the office, the parking lot, an email to a coworker, or on someone’s Facebook wall. You never know who is listening.

Now go set your alarm clock for work tomorrow, since it’s on your mind.

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