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Get Rid of Bad Habits as a Professional

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Everyone in the world today has habits that hinder some part of their everyday life. From personal relationships to the workplace, bad habits are formed every day. In the professional world, however, it is important for employees to understand how their bad habits are affecting those around them. Bad habits in the workplace can lead to a bad reputation, being overlooked for promotion or even loss of employment. It is important to be conscience of bad habits and work hard to break them before they negatively impact your career. Of course, as with so much in life, identification of a problem, or in this case a bad habit, is the first step.

Bad Habits that Jeopardize your Professionalism

The following is bad habits that were identified by researchers as typical habits that negatively impact on professionals in their workplace.

1. Procrastination

We all know someone who puts things off until the last minute, the student who waits until the day before a big exam to study, the friend who is always running late because they habitually wait until the last minute to head out the door, or the last to let you know if they will be joining you for dinner. Everyone knows someone who procrastinates. As common as procrastination is, it is not a good trait for the workplace. Procrastinators are basically those who do not manage their time wisely and fails to plan accordingly. Procrastination habits can lead to poor work performance often resulting in failure to meet deadlines or to live up to the expectations of their bosses, coworkers and clients. It is important to avoid procrastinating on the job so that your work does not suffer simply because you failed to allot any time for the “what ifs” that can and do inevitably come up.

2. Email Etiquette (or lack thereof)

A common issue in the business world is poor email etiquette. For many people, during their workday they are not at their desks/computers all day long. Those in this situation typically have a lack of dedicated time to read and reply to messages adequately. However, with the advancement of technology, we now have access to our email virtually anywhere we go, day or night. People now have the ability to read and respond to emails in between meetings, before dinner, before bed, at doctor’s appointments, waiting at the airport, from your son’s baseball game, waiting at a stoplight and so on. But, sadly, because we are using our smartphones and tablets, we forget about the proper etiquette we would typically use in email if we were responding from our desktops. The result is often hasty responses that are sloppy, were not spell checked, not to mention the all too frequent bad spell check issues that can arise from automatic spell check on smartphones and tablets, have many misspellings, and include “text talk” such emoticons, LOLs and abbreviations such as ”RU” instead of ” are you” and so on. These emails lack the proper etiquette that should be used when drafting and sending business correspondences.

3. Language and Communication

How we communicate and the language we use are other issues that can affect the workplace. It is very important to be sure that you use appropriate language and verbal and nonverbal cues regardless of the situation your find yourself in or with whom you are communicating. You may have a tendency to speak to your co-workers in a very different manner, than you would your customers, the company VPs, and the employees you manage. With your coworkers, you are more likely to be relaxed and feel comfortable sharing details of your family life, children’s lives and so on. You may also act differently depending upon the mode of communication. However, regardless of who you are speaking to or how you are communication with them, speaking disrespectfully, being sarcastic, using foul language, and using tones or body language that reflect annoyance, impatience, judgement of others and the like, can get you in trouble. It is very important to be serious and respectful while communication with others so that you can be seen as a professional, keeping in mind this holds true both in person, over the telephone and in the electronic world of websites, blogs and social media.

4. Frequently Being Late

We all get busy and lose track of time once in a while. But like procrastinators, many in the business world wait until the last minute to head to their next destinations, thinking they’ve got plenty of time, inevitably leading to them being notoriously late. Those you work with or for, expect you to be on time to meetings, conferences, events and of course the start of your workday. Whether you are a managing partner of a large law firm, an associate, a lobbyist, a receptionist, an inventor, an engineer, a customer service rep, a student intern, or any other of the many levels one can be within a company or firm, frequently being late to things can and do put a strain on your business relationships. Frequently being late can have a very negative impact on how others perceive you. And although those higher in “chain of command” are given more leniency on this topic, regardless of what level you are within your company or firm, being frequently late can lead to a domino effect of bad consequences including being labeled as not dependable, irresponsible or untrustworthy, missing deadlines, lost wages, lost clients, and can even lead to you losing your job all together.

It is very important that you plan your day, making note of all your meetings and appointments, making sure to not book things too close together to get to them. As you plan your day, as much as possible allow for the “what if” that could potentially delay your arrival. Use your technology to your advantage. Set yourself reminders and alarms at times that will allow you plenty of time to get to where you need to go next. One of my favorite things to do is to periodically put events on my calendar 15 minutes earlier than they really are. I can never remember which ones I actually put down as early, and as a result frequently find myself getting to appointments early. If you know you are going to be late, let the others you are to meet with know you will be late as soon as you possibly can. And if you suddenly realize you actually missed a meeting or appointment, reach out to that person as soon as you realize so as not to keep them waiting any longer.

5. Temperamental

Have you heard the quotes, “It is not what you say, it is how you say it” or “It is not how you see yourself; it is how others perceive you?” You probably heard them said or said them to others in the context of a personal, marital or familial relationship. These statements are particularly true in the professional setting. How someone interacts with others, both verbally and electronically can make or break his or her career.

As with procrastination and always being late, how you behave regularly will affect the reputation you build with others. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly angry, sad or negative, those who complain frequently, talk about others behind their backs, or are overly or inappropriately sarcastic. Think about your last interaction with someone like that. Chances are if I asked you to describe them to me, you would not tell me about all of the good thing he has done throughout his career. Rather you will likely focus on the fact that he is always grumpy, angry, sarcastic and so on.

We are all humans, and so much can be going on in our lives outside of the workplace, when you interact with others, be mindful of your emotions at the time, and be sure not to allow your personal life to affect the way you interact with others. It is also important to remember that not just the words that you speak, but also the non-verbal body language you use can be just as, if not more impactful on how others perceive your temperament. Whether you are more of a positive or negative person, your temperament will be reflected in everything you say and do professionally. When you go to a meeting, or talk to your coworkers, or clients, try to always have a friendly, and positive demeanor and keep a smile on your face.

6. Inflexibility

Those who are flexible show your employers, coworkers and clients that you are a team player and that they are easy going and approachable. Customer loyalty is not what is used to be. If a client feels that you are inflexible, they will likely also perceive you as difficult to work with which could result in their taking their business elsewhere. Those who remain flexible and open to new tasks and assignments, often find themselves in positive situations, often resulting in new chances to expand your client base and your opportunities to advance within your company. Today’s work environment is fluid and ever changing. Those who can easily adapt to the shifts in the workplace are seen as valuable assets to the company even above and beyond the expertise, knowledge and skills you possess. Those who are inflexible are often seen as not being good team players, not being committed to their jobs and are the ones most frequently passed over when opportunities for advancement arise.

7. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is another issue that can affect your position and reputation. Loss of confidentiality can cost companies dearly, and for many working within the intellectual property industry, a breach of confidentiality may be an ethics violation so grave that it can result in removal of your licenses or disbarment.

However, it is not just those required by law to keep things confidential who should take confidentiality seriously. It is important when working for a company or with your Business to Consumer and Business to Business clients that you are someone, they feel they can trust. If you keep things confidential, you will be considered trustworthy, ethical, and most professional. However, if you breech the confidentiality of the company you work for or of a client or consumer, you can be certain that you will likely no longer work for that company or client.

Click here to view a video that explains the five bad habits that can destroy your success.

How to Overcome Bad Habits?

We all are guilty of this behaviour from time to time. When they become habitual bad habits, you could damage your career beyond repair. If you fall into any of these categories, be sure to work on breaking these bad habits otherwise people will see only these bad habits and not your accomplishments, your reputation will suffer, your chances for employment advancement opportunities will surely decrease, and you could lose your clients, your job or even your license.

Bad habits interrupt your life and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. They jeopardize your health — both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy.

So why do we still do them? And most importantly, is there anything you can do about it?

All of the habits that you have right now — good or bad — are in your life for a reason. In some way, these behaviors provide a benefit to you, even if they are bad for you in other ways.

For example, opening your email inbox or Facebook as soon as you turn on your computer might make you feel connected. At the same time looking at all of those emails destroys your productivity, divides your attention, and overwhelms you with stress. But it prevents you from feeling like you're “missing out” … and so you do it again.

How to break bad habits. Here are three key pointers:

Take Stock of Your Bad Habits

Decide what you want to change. If you have no desire to change a habit, it is not likely that you will have the willpower to change it. Understand that bad work habits can prevent you from getting promotions or being seen as a serious team player and hard worker. It is safe to assume everyone has at least a few habits that affect their work negatively, so take out a pen and paper and list things you can improve.

For example, bad work habits include missing deadlines, surfing the Internet for personal reasons, being late to work or meetings, being negative, being noisy or disruptive in the office, using inappropriate humour at work and dressing unprofessionally.

Don't forget to evaluate common productivity-draining habits. Many of these habits are seen as positive in some companies but changing them can result in better performance. Potential bad productivity habits include eating lunch at your desk, checking your email all the time or scheduling too many meetings. Scientists have found that breaks from these behaviours can consistently increase your work time productivity.

Remove all Temptations to Continue the Habit

Be aware of your environment and the factors that trigger the habit. If you check your email too often, close the program or turn off the alert bell after you check it on the hour. If you are usually late, set all your clocks ahead, or ask someone to do it for you, so you don't know how early you are.

Replace the Habit with Something More Constructive

Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it's very difficult to simply eliminate them. (This is why simplistic advice like “just stop doing it” rarely works.)

Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a

In other words, bad habits address certain needs in your life. And for that reason, it's better to replace your bad habits with a healthier behavior that addresses that same need. If you expect yourself to simply cut out bad habits without replacing them, then you'll have certain needs that will be unmet and it's going to be hard to stick to a routine of “just don't do it” for very long.

Click here to view a video that explains the ten habits of successful people.