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10 things successful people never do at the office

Don’t let this bad office behavior cause you to lose the respect of your colleagues and supervisor. Learn how – and how not – to behave at work. Here are 10 things that successful people never do at the office.

1. Waste time

Don’t make waste – make haste. Being fast-paced and quick on the job is important, as is using your time wisely. They’re paying you to do your job – not to socialize. When you’re on the clock, you’ve got to keep the Facebook, texting, and personal chats to a minimum. It doesn’t mean that you can’t take a little personal time, but only when you’re ahead of schedule on your projects.


2. Take criticism personally

Successful people had to undergo a lot of criticism and failure before they got to where they are now. It’s not that those people are perfect, but rather they learned from their mistakes and oversights instead of taking it personally. It can be hard when first starting out not to take criticism a bit personally, but once you realize that it’s just to make you a better employee, you’ll realize that it can actually be a really positive thing to receive feedback. It’s all about learning and getting better.


how not to behave at work


3. Bad-talk their colleagues

Even if you think it, don’t say it. Talking badly about your colleagues is a quick way to burn bridges. Criticizing others at your job is a way of taking a negative spin on things – which is completely unnecessary. If you need to blow off steam about something that happened at work, try to focus on what was frustrating about the situation instead of just blaming a person. It’s also prudent to express frustration to someone outside of the office too, not a fellow coworker.


4. Procrastinate

A lot of us love to wait until the last minute to get something done. Cramming for tests… doing homework the morning before it’s due… we could get away with it in high school, and maybe college, but in the workplace, procrastination doesn’t fly. Your work will suffer if you do procrastinate, and you’ll be less likely to move up in the company if you are famously finishing projects without taking the necessary time.


5. Arrive late

Though each culture treats punctuality a little differently, it’s generally important to be on time at your office – at the beginning of the day, for meetings, etc. It’s rude to keep other people waiting for you. That translates to you feeling that your time is more important than theirs (even if you don’t believe that). Wake up a little bit earlier and always give yourself more time than you think you need – there’s bound to be traffic (literally and figuratively) en route.


6. Don’t pull their weight

The office slacker never ends up with the corner office. Make sure to do your fair share of work in the office. Take on new projects whenever you have time. Not only will it impress your coworkers and make you a better worker, but time will likely pass more quickly if your mind is occupied on an office challenge.


how not to behave at work


7. Wait to be told what to do

To be successful at the office, it’s important to be proactive. You’re not going to always be told exactly what to do, so you have to learn how to get your work done on your own and take advantage of whatever training you receive when you start working.


8. Ignore the details

It’s all in the details. Not paying close attention to your work or office is a great way to miss out on important, career-making insights. Be meticulous about your work and also recognize all of the work and effort that goes into making the company operate. If not, you’re missing out.


9. Show up unprepared

There’s nothing worse than an employee who hasn’t prepared for a meeting or presentation. Keep a close watch of your office calendar and pay extra attention to projects that need to be done before a certain time to be presented to others. If you show up unprepared too many times, you’re going to lose the trust and respect of your boss and colleagues.


10. Blame others for their own shortcomings

Making mistakes is inevitable. When you mess up, it’s important to accept responsibility rather than making excuses, or worse, blaming others for your mistakes. Taking the heat when you do something wrong will help you learn and improve as a professional and also show your colleagues that you aren’t a coward. You stand by what you did and are willing to learn from it rather than hide.


Learn first-hand how, and how NOT, to behave at work by interning abroad and working alongside leading professionals. Apply now to gain essential professional experience and to launch your career.



Photo 1. based on business men, by Markus Spiske, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Business man point, by kev-shine, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Business man crossing, by malouette, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!