9 avoidable ticks and habits that are undermining your professionalism

At the office, ideally you’re only judged based on your competency and work performance. And while that should be the case, oftentimes certain ticks and habits can actually do damage to your reputation in the office, despite an excellent performance. Learn how to be professional by paying attention to these key ticks and habits and cutting them out of your office life.


1. “Umm…”

This verbal tick can easily undermine your professionalism. It’s a fast way to sound unintelligent and like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Try to speak more slowly and more deliberately to avoid slipping some “umms” in your conversations.


2. Biting your nails

Nail-biting is a hard habit to kick. But it’s so worth it. It is without question a personal tick that will make you look less professional (and could even gross out fellow coworkers).


3. Doing your makeup at the office

Keep up with your personal hygiene and beautification outside of the office. If you need to touch up your hair or makeup, make a trip to the bathroom. You don’t want to come off as vain or narcissistic.


how to be professional


4. Overusing your cellphone

People are becoming addicted to checking their phones. It’s a normal habit to have, but it could be damaging how you’re perceived in the office. Never check your phone while you’re talking to a coworker, or especially a supervisor. While you’re at the office you should only be checking your phone if it pertains to your job. If your boss sees you texting too much, they might think you’re wasting your office hours.


5. Smacking your food or gum

This habit is incredibly irritating for the people around you. Everyone should always pay attention to their eating habits at the office. You probably shouldn’t be eating inside your office anyway. If eating in the office is permissible, opt for less messy, less noisy food.


6. “Liiiike”

Another placeholder for while you’re thinking of the right word, using “like” is a fast way to undermine your professionalism. It makes you sound younger and less competent in the office. Think about what you want to say before you start chattering in order to kick this habit.


how to be professional


7. Talking about your nerves during a presentation

Even if you’re a ball of nerves as you stand up to speak in front of a group of colleagues, don’t say anything. You undermine your professionalism when you tell others that you’re nervous or anxious and distract their attention from the presentation itself. If you must tell someone how you feel, text or call a friend before the presentation.


8. Messing with your hair

Playing with your hair or touching it too much is an easy tick to develop, but much like biting your nails, it can make you look juvenile and unprofessional. Like biting your nails, it’s also kind of gross.


9. Slouching in your seat

Bad posture not only makes you look less competent but it also can lead to long-term back pain. Sitting up straight makes you look more polished and professional, plus it’s good for your core muscles and strength. Win!



Now you know how to be professional in the office, apply now to boost your career with an internship abroad.


Sources: http://www.more.com/lifestyle/exercise-health/stand-tall-effects-poor-posture, http://dianegottsman.com/2013/05/body-language-etiquette-non-verbal-messages-2/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-gottsman/business-etiquette-7-ways_b_4019140.html


1. based on Mid Autumn Fest, by Photo by Thomas, CC-by-2.0

2. based on Biting Nails – Day 4, by Irene Bonacchi, CC-by-ND 2.0

3. based on Slouching, by Charles Hutchins, CC-by-2.0


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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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