My recent article, How to Make Yourself More Interesting to Anyone You Meet, focused on the fact that in business, it's essential to set yourself apart from your competitors. After all, there are plenty of people who are good at what they do. It's those that make a positive first impression that tend to excel.
Interestingly, it led to a great deal of feedback, including a speaking engagement on the subject. I started thinking about not only the things that we find attractive in others, but also the personality traits that are immediate turn-offs in business. Just as great manners or being a good listener can work to a person's advantage, there are a wide range of negative behaviors that are detrimental to one's professional reputation.
Routinely, participants in my corporate etiquette training sessions identify the following undesirable work styles that are all but guaranteed to stunt career growth:
- The Jokester. When offered up in appropriate doses at the right times, humor can be a welcome addition in the workplace. To the Jokester, however, every topic is a punch line. Similar to the class clown, important cues about the interest level of others are missed. Their main focus is on getting attention. They cannot interpret smug, polite laughter, and see it as positive reinforcement.
- The Bragger. There's always at least one person who constantly talks about their latest accomplishment and how much everybody loves them, while incessantly boasting on social media. Their stories are always far more grandiose than reality, and you quickly learn to distrust anything they say because it's not hard to see beyond their "smoke and mirrors".
- The Liar. This is perhaps the most damaging trait, both personally and professionally. Dishonest people may win in the short term, but will eventually be found out. Whether it's bending the truth, fibbing, lying by omission or flat-out deception, liars will find it extremely difficult to regain their colleagues' trust once the bond has been broken.
- The Waffler. They can't make a decision to save their life, and overthink every detail to the detriment of the project and the team. Instead of evaluating both the pros and cons, doing their due diligence and trusting their instincts, they vacillate until the opportunity is lost and energy has run dry.
- The Procrastinator. By pushing their tasks to the last minute, avoidable emergencies are frequently created for the entire team. The Procrastinator would ultimately benefit by having someone else keep them accountable for completing each part of the project on time.
- The Pessimist. For this poor soul, nothing is ever right and just about everything is impossible. They also tend to frequently remind others of things that have gone wrong in the past, and always make sure to take some of the joy out of any victory by focusing on the one thing that went wrong. Their stories have a negative slant, their views are jaded and even destructive, and they are difficult to sit next to at a business meal because something is always wrong with the service.
- The Slug. You'll recognize the Slug by the minimum effort exerted to stay afloat in their job. They act as if every part of their position requires Herculean effort. Under no circumstance will they stay late or work through lunch, so don't ask. Yet, they will be the first to complain if someone is late with the sub sandwiches or pizza delivery during the lunch hour.
- The Drama King or Queen. A skilled exaggerator who specializes in making mountains out of molehills. If there's a light rain on the commute in, you'll hear about the torrential downpour that they barely survived.