10 Annoying Work Habits That Can Get You Fired

woman on phone at work
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Here’s a wake-up call: Some of your 9-to-5 manners may be so off-putting, they could actually be affecting your career. Hey, someone had to tell you.
  1. Bad Habit #1: You dial from speakerphone.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    Are you intentionally trying to drive your coworkers crazy? Because the whining dial tone, followed by your aggressive button-pressing, followed then by the rhythmic ringing -- and maybe even ending with the harmonious sounds of someone else's voice-mail message picking up? Yeah, that's totally unpleasant and super-disruptive.

    How to fix it:

    Unless you're in a private room on a group call, there's no reason to use speakerphone ever, whether you're just leaving a message or calling the local Chinese food place to put in an order. Please, just pick up the receiver to make your call.

  2. Bad Habit #2: You’re on your BlackBerry or iPhone during meetings.

    Photo by Antonis Achilleos / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    Maybe you're waiting for an important email to come through, but if you keep picking up your phone -- or worse, typing away while others are talking -- you're sending the message that whatever your coworkers have to say just isn't that important. Um, ouch!

    How to fix it:

    If you've got a pressing issue that just can't be sidelined for the meeting, ask your boss if there's any way you could sit this one out while you deal with it. If your attendance is mandatory though, quickly state in the beginning of the meeting that you're waiting on an email or call, and might just need to step out for a second at some point.

  3. Bad Habit #3: You don’t respond to emails.

    Photo by Andrew McCaul / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    When your inbox is being constantly bombarded by a steady stream of work queries, personal emails and spam, it's tough to keep up. Still, it's important to respond to emails from coworkers as soon as you can, so you don't leave them hanging. Often, they're waiting on an answer from you before they can act, and your silent treatment is not only rude, but also holds things up.

    How to fix it:

    As soon as an email from a coworker comes in, respond with something. Just one line will appease him for the time being, and reassure him that you're not blowing him off. Try something like this: “Hey, I'll definitely get to this, but it can't be until later today." Or even this: “I'm not sure I know, but I'll find out and get back to you as soon as I can."

  4. Bad Habit #4: You’re always bitching about how busy you are.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    Hey, guess what? Everyone is busy, and when you bitch and moan like you're carrying the weight of the whole company on your shoulders, it just makes you sound like a whiner. Even worse, if you're constantly moaning, the higher-ups may assume you just can't handle your workload.

    How to fix it: Think about why you're complaining so much. Do you legitimately want your boss to lighten your load, or are you just bitching for the hell of it? If it's the former, sit down with your boss to figure out a solution. If it's the latter, hold off on all the woe-is-me stressing until you get home, where your lucky spouse will be happy (yeah, right!) to listen to it all.

  5. Bad Habit #5: You’re late to meetings.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    Office meetings can often feel like worthless time-sucks, taking you away from your already busy workday. And in many cases, meetings won't start until everyone is there, so when someone (ahem, you) strolls in five or ten minutes late, that's time your coworkers have just wasted waiting around. For the record, you're not the only person who had a few things to wrap up at their desk.

    How to fix it:

    Easy: show up on time! If you seem to have trouble getting to meetings right when they start, set up your schedule so that all your phone calls or tasks are finished up at least 10 minutes before the meeting. It doesn't work to schedule a 2:00, a 2:30, a 3:00 and a 3:30. Give yourself a cushion of time around each meeting. For one thing, chances are, there are some action points you're supposed to take after the meeting (that was the point of meeting, right?), so you want to give yourself time to get those rolling before the next meet.

  6. Bad Habit #6: You toot your own horn in front of everyone.

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    Why it's annoying:

    To be successful, yes, you do need to make sure the higher-ups know all the kick-ass work you've been doing. Broadcasting it for the whole office, though -- say, in the middle of a meeting -- not only builds resentment toward you, but makes you sound like a brown-noser too.

    How to fix it:

    Career experts are all for self-promotion, but there's a right and a wrong way to go about it. When you have a minute alone with your boss, play yourself up more privately by saying something like, “I'm really excited that Project X is up and running now, and I know it's going to be a success. I spent a long time working on it and hammering out the details, so it's great to finally see it come to fruition."

  7. Bad Habit #7: You primp at your desk.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    Sure, your desk may be stocked with a hand mirror and full cosmetics case, but it's unprofessional to get yourself all gussied up in the middle of the office. Not to mention, many people may find your tweezing, nail-filing and eyelash-curling to be pretty nasty as well.

    How to fix it:

    It might be a pain in the butt, but you're better off schlepping all of your beauty supplies to the communal bathroom, rather than practicing your beauty routine at your desk. You might still come face-to-face with your boss in the ladies' room, but at least it's a more appropriate place to primp.

  8. Bad Habit #8: You leave messes everywhere.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    You may feel like you spend more time at the office than you do at home, but that doesn't mean you can treat it like your own personal space. Who do you think is going to clean up the dirty coffee mugs you left in the sink, the pile of papers you created by the copy machine or the leftover Indian food you let rot in the communal refrigerator? By leaving your mess, you're showing a lack of respect for your coworkers and your shared office space. Plus, you're just being gross.

    How to fix it:

    Slobby habits send a bad message about who you are (read: lazy, inconsiderate, kind of disgusting), so show them all that you're a real adult by simply cleaning up after yourself.

  9. Bad Habit #9: When you have a problem with a coworker, you go to the boss first.

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    Why it's annoying:

    First off, your superiors have way better things to do with their time than listen to petty crap. Secondly, when your coworker finds out you ratted her out, you'll be Office Enemy #1.

    How to fix it:

    Confront the issue head-on by going directly to the source. If you find that your coworker's daily phone yapping is disruptive, approach her and nicely say, “Hey, I totally understand that you get a lot of personal calls during the day, but I get distracted so easily. Is there any way you could keep it down a little or just take personal calls on your cell?" You might have to mention it a couple of times, but people tend to respond well when they're treated with consideration and respect. Of course, if your diplomatic moves don't shut her up, then take it to the office manager or HR.

  10. Bad Habit #10: You talk too loudly on the phone.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Why it's annoying:

    Yes, it would be nice to have your own little office where you could gab your little heart out. Unfortunately though, if you're sharing cubicle walls with coworkers, you need to be aware they can hear every…single…word. Especially if you're talking at your usual volume. And it's incredibly distracting! Of course, work calls are one thing, but what's especially annoying? Forcing your coworkers to hear about the fight you had with your hubby, what you're making for dinner or what a bitch that Melissa girl is.

    How to fix it:

    In general, watch your volume -- do you really need to be talking so loudly? The reality, though, is that sometimes your cubicle walls are just too damn thin. And, obviously, you need to make business calls. Show your neighbors some consideration and warn them ahead of time -- and apologize in advance -- if you're going to be on a particularly long call. As for personal calls, direct them to your cell phone and either step outside or find a quiet spot down the hall.

    SOURCE: Andrea Kay, career consultant and author of Work's a Bitch and Then You Make It Work