interaction blundersWhen you interact with coworkers, does your style help your career or hinder it?  To be successful in business, one must be likeable as well as competent. Mistakes are sure to hold you back in your career. With this in mind, here are five of the worst mistakes you can make when interacting with colleagues and managers:

  1. Gossiping.  Talking about coworkers behind their backs may be the national corporate pastime, but doing so prevents others from trusting you – both the people you’re gossiping to and the people you’re gossiping about.  Without trust, you’ll have a tough time moving into anyone’s inner circle, getting a sensitive assignment, or being empowered to oversee an important part of the business.
  2. Slow, sloppy follow-up. To get ahead, return phone calls in 24 minutes rather than 24 hours. Respond to emails in minutes, not hours. If a boss or coworker asks for 10 pieces of information, report back with 10, not 7 or 8. Thorough and fast follow-up impresses people because they experience it so infrequently.
  3. Nitpicking. The opposite end of the follow-up spectrum is nitpicking, a habit that is just as damaging as slow and sloppy follow-up. People hate being told about the one thing they did wrong, especially if it was one among the 20 they did right, or one that was trivial or irrelevant.
  4. Failing to make yourself clearly understood. Vagueness, not getting to the point and making contradictory statements frustrates coworkers. When you’re hard to understand, people can’t figure out what you want, or what you want of them. In time, if these communication shortcomings become habitual, coworkers will simply avoid you, as will the leadership roles and prestige projects.
  5. Spotlight hogging. Everyone likes the spotlight shined on him or her for a job well done, but going out of your way to tout your work or take credit for other people’s achievements fosters jealousy and resentment among coworkers. In addition, hogging the spotlight makes you look like an egomaniac, which does you no good at all, whether as part of a team or as a solo performer.

When considering workplace interaction, remember there are no absolutes. There are times when it serves a legitimate business purpose to express anger or shock. There are situations when one must talk secretly about someone’s personal activities. But true professionals know when they are breaking the rules, and why.

Lists such as these are quite subjective, no doubt. What types of interaction blunders do you think cause the biggest problems?