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Nine Bullsh*t Habits to Avoid at Work in 2015

January 03, 2015

Stop_bad_habitsThe start of a new year is an excellent time to think about work habits that irritate your co-workers and make you less effective.

"Achieving success requires more than just doing the right thing," says blogger and Inc.com columnist Geoffrey James. "Success also means changing the behaviors that are holding you back."

Here are nine workplace habits that, according to James, most of us would do well to eliminate in 2015:

1. Doing the bare minimum. If you accept a task, you owe it to yourself and to others to make your best effort. If you don't want to do something, have the courage to say so. Doing a half-*ssed job is just being passive-aggressive.

2. Telling half-truths. Honesty is the best policy. If you're afraid to speak the truth, don't tell a half-truth that's designed to mislead but leaves you in a position of "plausible deniability." Either tell the whole truth or tell a real lie — and accept the consequences if you're found out.

3. Finger-pointing. Few behaviors are as pointless as assigning blame. In most endeavors, who's at fault when something goes wrong is irrelevant. What's important is figuring how to avoid making the same mistake a second time.

4. Bucking accountability. Finger-pointing is as common as it is because too many people are unwilling to admit their mistakes. If you're going to take credit for your accomplishments, you should also own up to your failures. The two go hand-in-hand.

5. Hating on successful people. Bad-mouthing people who are successful is the ultimate cop out. In effect, you're telling yourself that success inevitably breeds resentment and, as a result, are more likely to sabotage your own efforts to be the best you can be.

6. Schadenfreude. Taking secret pleasure in the failures of others makes your own success less likely. You end up gloating over what other people did wrong, rather than doing whatever you need to do to make yourself more successful.

7. Workplace gossip. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." When you gossip at the office, you're signaling to your colleagues that you are small-minded and also letting them know that you can't be trusted to keep a confidence.

8. Creating your own stress. While work often is stressful, most of us make it worse be neglecting to disconnect on a regular basis. Rather than answer yet another email, take a walk, read a book, or listen to some music. Turn off your phone when you go to bed; whatever it is, it can wait.

9. Trafficking in flattery. An honest compliment is always welcome, but flattery truly gets you nowhere. When you flatter, everyone knows what you're doing. And when you allow yourself to be flattered, you are letting your colleagues know you are gullible and self-absorbed.

Geoffrey James is a veteran business journalist. This post was adapted from his latest book, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

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