Saboteur! No, wait—it’s just you. You might not think you’re doing any damage to your career every time you sigh, swear, gossip, or express frustration, but you very well could be. The small things you do can have a negative impact on how you’re perceived around the office and could even be reflected in performance reviews, salary, and upward mobility. So check yourself before you wreck yourself: Make sure you avoid these behaviors and continue to do great work!

Criticizing others.

Nobody really enjoys being criticized, especially by the people they work with. Whispering behind your coworkers’ backs—or worse, your boss’—is not okay. Don’t gossip about anybody or spread rumors. If people catch on to what you’re doing, not only will you probably not get a pay raise or a promotion, you might even find yourself looking for a new job.

Acting helpless.

Part of being a good employee is the ability to always be learning and demonstrating new skills to prove you’re really an asset to the company. So if you act as if you can’t learn anything new or that you can’t possibly take responsibility or even give something an honest effort, management will be less likely to approach you with new projects, making your career a stagnant one.

Expressing yourself too much.

Some of these things can vary from office to office, but generally it’s a good idea to always be calm and confident, even when you don’t feel that way. If you’re too expressive with your anger, frustration, or tears, people might think you’re unable to control your feelings, and they probably won’t want to be around you, much less work with you.


The surest way to get people to think you’re a negative, useless employee is to complain about everything. Some complaining is probably all right—you are human, after all, and to be human is to complain—but too much can really damage your career. “Chronic complainers generally focus on the problems at hand rather than on the potential solutions,” says Sylvia Hepler, a career development specialist and author of Learning Leadership Through Loss. “Instead of moaning about policies, processes, and people, accept what you cannot change or make recommendations for positive change.”