8 behaviors that could sabotage your career

By Kim Giles, KSL.com Contributor Published: February 25, 2014
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SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. Life Coach Kim Giles is here to help you with simple, principle-based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.

Question:

I work in an office with mostly women and the drama is driving me crazy. Many of them read your column, so I wish you would explain what behavior is appropriate at work and how to stop overreacting, getting offended and causing problems. Also, because I don’t participate in it, I am often the one who is talked about behind my back. If I bring it up and complain, I’d be contributing to the drama so I just silently take it. How should I handle that?

Answer:

Inappropriate workplace drama occurs everywhere you find human beings … and unfortunately (especially) women. I wish I could say this wasn’t true, but women do have a tendency to create more drama at work than men do.

I believe this happens because most women battle more internal fear (of loss and failure) than men do. Trust me, women have more fear-based thoughts than men. They tend to think too much, and these fears create the tendency for gossip, back-biting, being offended, casting others as the bad guy, being passive aggressive, complaining and blowing things out of proportion.

Let me explain how this happens in your head.

When you are battling a fear of loss, you can become controlling, bossy or overly protective of your territory. When you are battling a fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) you tend to subconsciously focus on the bad (or perceived bad) in everything and everyone around you to take the focus off you. You may not consciously realize you are doing this. You may subconsciously cast others as the bad guy to make you feel like the good guy and you may get offended way too easy.

When you are afraid you aren’t enough (on any level), you have an easy-to-trigger “sore spot” around being insulted or thought less of. You are then subconsciously on the lookout for any word, look or behavior that could be interpreted as disapproval or an insult. You will also feel the need to talk about these offenses to others to get reassurance and validation. This is a big problem at work because this behavior will hold you back in your career.

Here are eight common workplace behaviors that will hold you back or get you passed over for promotions. (Notice that most of them are fear problems.) You may want to check yourself for bad behavior.

1. Do you lack technical skills? This is a lack of education or experience and has nothing to do with fear. Great employees (who move up) are constantly looking for opportunities to improve their skill set.

2. Do you have trouble accepting feedback? If you battle a fear of not being good enough, you usually can’t handle feedback and may even get offended or hurt by it. In the workplace, it is critical that you are open to any and all feedback that could help you learn and grow. Feedback happens to serve you and does not diminish your value as a person (because nothing can). You are the same you with the same value no matter what feedback you get. Great employees are in trust about their absolute value, which allows them to accept constructive feedback and even ask for it. Being confident enough to recieve good feedback can launch you forward.

3. Are you negative about people or the company? A subconscious fear of failure or loss can cause you to complain, blame and focus on the negative in everything around you. When you aren’t happy with yourself, you tend to focus on the bad in others to distract yourself from your own faults or misfortunes. The worse you feel about yourself, the worse your attitude at work. You must fight the urge to think out loud and verbalize everything you think. Try talking less, listening more and focusing on the positive.

4. Do you hesitate to take initiative or stick your neck out? Both a fear of failure and a fear of loss can cause you to stop taking risks, keep your ideas to yourself and just do the minimum to stay under the radar. This tactic might feel safe but it won’t open doors for you. Also watch for feeling entitled to promotions just because you’ve been there awhile. Promotions are given to those who take initiative, stretch out of their comfort zone and go above and beyond the call of duty.

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