Okay, it’s honesty time. Have you been passed over recently for a promotion for which you were well-qualified? When you show up in the break room, do your co-workers smile and then head back to their offices? If so, you may be in need of a work-related attitude make-over.
No one wants us to be cookie-cutter images of each other, but the fact is that when you are at work, you need to present a more polished image than you do when you are out with friends. Here are five ways you can clean up your act without sacrificing your personality.
Five ways to can clean up your act at Work
1. Watch your language
Cursing is part of our culture. We hear it on the internet, on TV, in movies and in our daily conversations. While researchers have been unable to pin down if swearing has really gotten worse in recent years or if it just seems worse because of all our new forms of communication, the workplace should be a place you temper your tongue.
Of course, some employers are more laid-back about language than others, but do you really need to punctuate your sentences at work with so many f-bombs? You will gain more respect with co-workers and clients if you drop the constant swearing.
Start paying attention to your swearing habits. Do you start cursing when you are angry or is it a part of your normal speech? If you let out a string of expletives when another driver cuts you off, it probably doesn’t mean you have a serious problem (unless your three-year-old or your Grandma is in the car, that is.), but if you find you routinely use swear words as adjectives, verbs and adverbs, you may find your work image is suffering. Cursing in an office environment is just plain unprofessional.
2. Avoid TMI
Everyone gives grace to new parents showing their baby pictures or newlyweds showing their honeymoon photos, but in general, avoid sharing an overload of personal information at work.
Most of us don’t really want to hear all the details about your in-laws, or your car problems or your kid’s report card. Sure, it’s good to get to know each other, but be careful about revealing too much information too much of the time.
There’s a time and place for heart-to-heart conversations, and it’s not on company time. Also be sensitive of who you are talking with and how your good news may affect them. Your second baby news may be heart-breaking to that co-worker who has been trying to have a baby for years, and your brand new car may make someone who drives a beater feel awful.
If your co-workers are your Facebook friends, watch the personal information overload on your social media as well.
3. Dress appropriately
If you want to be taken seriously at work, you need to dress the part. It’s time lose the rumpled, student look and get into some well-fitting, well-made clothes. Notice what the successful people in your office are wearing and think of how you can adapt their choices into your own sense of style.
Steer away from revealing or too tight clothing at the workplace. That doesn’t mean you have to dress like a prude, just realize that others judge you by how you dress.
“Anything where it looks like you didn’t take the time or make the effort comes across badly,” says psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner in her book You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal about You. “The worst clothing is the kind that tries to undo, ignore or hide where or who you are, or the kind that shows you didn’t pay attention to your body/age/situation … Any clothes that prohibit you from doing your job well send the wrong message.”
4. Practice humility
We all want to get ahead and be rewarded for what we accomplish, but be careful not to overdo it in the bragging department. Try to let the quality of your work speak for itself.
Also be quick to give others credit where credit is due. You will go a long way towards making friends in your workplace when you thank your team members – even those who only did a small but important piece of the project.
Studies of workplace exit interviews reveal that many employees leave their jobs because they feel unappreciated. Acknowledging the work of others reflects well on you and is a sign of a good leader.
5. Don’t spread gossip
There is nothing to be gained and much to lose by spreading gossip in the workplace. It wastes your time, it damages your relationships with others, and it could even get you fired.
You can’t stop others from spreading hurtful talk, but you can control yourself from spreading it. Try to divert gossip by politely removing yourself when you hear this kind of conversation going on. If you cannot leave the room, then let the story stop with you. Don’t pass on what you have heard.
Also realize that if people are talking about others, they will talk about you too — hence another reason to watch how much private information you share at work.
You’ll never be able to please all the people all the time, but if you work on these five ways to clean up your act, you will go a long way toward improving your professional image and paving the way for new opportunities at work.