Kick The Habit

By Paul R. Huard

May 2, 2008 4 min read

KICK THE HABIT

Loud talker? Whiner? Change those bad work behaviors

By Paul R. Huard

Copley News Service

Mark Twain once said that there is nothing more annoying than a good example, but in the workplace your annoying habits can be a bad example that stops your career cold.

Loud phone conversations and constant complaints about workload are just a couple of the bad examples that rank as the most annoying work habits.

If these are some of your bad behaviors, you'll want to change them - fast. Ray Roe, president of Adecco North America, one of the world's largest employment companies, says counterproductive behavior will eventually label you as a liability.

"A business is a community," Roe says. "Large or small, it's made up of people who have to get along professionally and get the job done. Bad habits or behaviors can be seen by the rest of that community as proof that you just don't fit in."

Roe says some bad habits could lead to an employee eventually losing his or her job if the person is not productive, does not follow company rules or offends the decision-makers who run the firm. At the very least, you might not get promoted.

What are some the habits that draw the biggest complaints? They include cliques among co-workers, arriving late to work, talking to yourself, talking to co-workers over cubicle walls, bad hygiene and loud eating, according to TrueCareers, an online site of job listings.

Nearly 60 percent of those who responded to the questions about workers with horrible habits said a co-worker had hurt relationships at work enough to damage productivity. Forty percent said things were becoming so bad they were looking for another job. Another 17 percent of employees have sought a transfer to escape the offenders.

The irony in all this? Eighteen percent of people who posted the complaints also say they often talk to themselves, 16 percent show up late to work or meetings, 13 percent holler over cubicle walls instead of using the phone or e-mail and 7 percent catch themselves constantly complaining about work.

One bad habit that can hold you back is whining. It's not worth the time, says the millionaire chief executive officer of a record company who literally worked his way up from the streets.

"No matter what you are doing, try to work at your task like it's your dream job," says hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in his new book, "Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success" (Gotham, $15. "Your happiness ultimately comes from how you work, not where you work."

Here's a prescription for curing the bad habits you bring to office.

- Be interested in the bad habit that you want to change. Unless you have an interest to change you would not act upon it.

- Have a desire to succeed. Tell yourself that you will conquer this bad habit. People who tend to think they will fail usually give up before they are halfway through.

- Think about alternatives to the bad habit you can replace. Pick an easy one you can start with first.

- Have patience. Behavioral change takes time and support. Tell friends and co-workers about your plan and get them to support you. With some encouragement your journey to breaking the bad habit will not be a lonely one.

? Copley News Service

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