Bad Habits You Have to Kick

Bad habits can become so engrained in our daily routine that we forget these qualities are both undesirable and unprofessional.  Here are some of the worst habits you forgot you had, and some of the best ways to get rid of them for good.

Being late

When you’re late to a meeting, you’re telling everyone in the room that you don’t respect their time.  This makes you look bad to your boss and your colleagues, and will lead your whole team to assume that you have bad time management skills or can’t prioritize your responsibilities.  It can be especially hard to remember how important timeliness is when you work in a small or casual office environment because if things are more laid back, it becomes easier to take them less seriously.  


However, being on time is not a commodity to throw around lightly, and you should make it a priority in any and every professional setting.  There are plenty of tricks you can employ to get yourself places on time (set your clock a couple of minutes fast; pretend that the meeting is 5 minutes earlier; walk and talk or walk and email on your way).  Find what works and stick with it.

Avoiding the Phone

Picking up the phone can be one of the most effective communication tactics in any business – and it is one that we forget about the most.  We are so plugged into our wireless systems and we have so many options when it comes to sending a message (email, text, online messaging) that phone calls seem too time consuming and too hard to manage.  So we avoid them.    

This is counterproductive for a couple of reasons.  First of all, there are some things that are more easily resolved over the phone.  When a 5-minute conversation saves an entire day of back and forth emailing, you’re working more efficiently.  Secondly, being available by phone makes you seem more accessible to clients, vendors, and even colleagues.  Being able to lead and navigate phone conversations shows strong leadership and communication skills, and could be the thing that lands you that promotion.   


This one is hard because it’s usually comes with the best intentions.  Maybe you want to look good to your boss, maybe you want to help colleagues who are swamped, or maybe you feel obligated to tackle any project that gets thrown your way.  The problem here is that everyone has their limit; and if you take on too many assignments you will eventually hit yours.  The only way to combat this is to learn your own work habits and know them inside and out.  Take on extra responsibility, but only when it is within a reasonable scope.  If you know how much is too much, you can set realistic boundaries for yourself and pitch in an extra hand without going overboard.


Bottom line: interrupting is rude.  Even if you have the best idea in the room and you just can’t wait to get it out, you need to conduct yourself in a sensible manner and wait for an appropriate moment to contribute to the conversation.  Your colleagues won’t respect you if you don’t respect them, and it is hard to build rapport if you can’t demonstrate your ability to listen in addition to your ability to speak up.  It’s a fine balance, and one that’s learned with time.  As long as you show your clients and colleagues the respect that you expect from them, you will be putting yourself on the right track.  

Bad habits of your own?  Tell us how you’ve overcome negative routines in the workplace.