Stop undermining yourself at work

Sometimes sitting in our own skin (i.e. being ourselves) can make it really hard to know when we’re behaving in a way that can be detrimental to our own success. We all go into a job with the best intentions, and by gosh, try our very best to do the right thing at work, but often for reasons we don't understand, we make choices and take actions that can undermine our efforts.

The good news is, once we become aware of our self-sabotaging behaviours, we’re better armed to be able to stop ourselves in our tracks and disrupt the very patterns that are hindering our growth. Do you identify with some of the following common self-sabotaging behaviours in the workplace? Well, it’s time to stop!

  • You apologise too much. This is a common problem among women, but is not exclusive to women. Can you think about how many times you preface a thought or opinion with “I’m sorry, but…”? No one will take your opinions seriously if you’re constantly apologising for them. Say what you feel with confidence and conviction, and you’ll earn that respect.
  • You arrive late to meetings. Arriving late to a meeting once in a while is understandable but nobody wants to become the ‘person who’s always late to meetings’ in the workplace – especially if the meetings are with clients or external people who expect the courtesy of punctuality. Constantly arriving late tells others that you lack interest in them and portrays you as someone disorganised, and therefore unreliable. Set multiple reminders with alerts in your calendar, and if you’re constantly running from one meeting to the next, schedule less in your day.
  • You come ill-prepared for meetings. Often when you’re late to meetings (see above) you’re also too rushed to come prepared. Not only does this make you feel bored and confused in meetings, it also makes you look bored and confused. As mentioned, make sure you’re not scheduling too many face-to-face meetings in one day and instead, block out time in your calendar to read through the meeting topics and get across everything. You’ll then be able to contribute and without being sorry. Winning!
  • You address people incorrectly. If you’re one of those fast and furious typists who misspells your colleagues’ names differently each time you write them an email, think again! This can be a minor error that says, “I’m too busy to care”. No excuses here – read and repeat, even if you have to copy and paste.
  • You use the wrong tone of voice. There are those people that are always chirpy by nature, and there are those that get to the point without any frills. Both dispositions can be a cause of irritation depending on who you are, but remember, the workplace is not your family dining table, so it’s important to talk to your co-workers and clients with a level of politeness that shows that you respect them.

Can you think of other self-sabotaging behaviours you’re guilty of at work? Have a good rummage through your mind and consider whether you’re better off kicking them to the curb. It could be your answer to a better performance review, better relationships with colleagues and stakeholders, or even a promotion in the long-term.

Constantly arriving late tells others that you lack interest in them and portrays you as someone disorganised, and therefore unreliable.