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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

5 Workplace Traits That Are Holding You Back


You may have heard the saying, "what got you here won't get you there." It's a common phrase (and the title of a book by Marshall Goldsmith), but have you slowed down to really think about what it means? In today's changing work environment, adaptability is crucial for pushing your career and making moves in your field. I've worked with many, many professionals, and I've noticed a few warning signs that indicate that you may be accidentally hurting your own growth.


You need everyone to know you’re the smartest one in the room.

Once I was interviewing a candidate for a position at my company, and even though their resume had relevant experience that got them in the door, none of that mattered when they started to actually talk to me. This person interrupted me constantly, talking over me even as I was giving them feedback or a suggestion. I was the person interviewing them, and they still felt like they had to talk over me to announce their intelligence. In reality, their resume had already demonstrated that they were educated enough for the job, and all their interrupting did was convince me they were a bad cultural fit.


You need to win, and you don’t care who gets hurt.

We all want to get ahead in our careers, but doing that at the expense of our working relationships isn’t worth it. Throwing someone under the bus, blaming others, and using negative talk to get yourself ahead isn’t effective, and it isn’t ethical. I’m not arguing that there aren’t high-level executives who do this; I think we’ve all seen that. But that behavior isn’t sustainable, and invariably people will see your bad attitude and be less willing to promote you or work with you.


You pass judgment.

Everyone makes mistakes, but in our working lives, we should aim to be compassionate and laid back about the mistakes made by others. You don’t need to point a finger the minute someone else is in the wrong, and you certainly don’t need to jump down anyone’s throat for it. If you work on a high-pressure team, being quick to anger can sometimes come with the turf. Everyone is stressed out. But take a minute to respond to mistakes without judgment, and people will remember your even-temper and your restraint.


You add too much value.

This might sound strange, but being too helpful and having too many ideas can be a detriment to your career. You know when someone is giving a presentation, and then someone else brings up an idea or points something out, and then suddenly that person is suddenly the one giving the lecture? There's a time and a place for commenting and adding value, but don’t monopolize, and be sure you’re doing as much listening as you are commenting.


You give destructive feedback.

I have a few colleagues who are in the “scorched-earth” school of constructive feedback, and while some people appreciate bluntness, it’s important not to tear someone down when you’re giving critique. Remember that good feedback is constructive, and feedback that’s too harsh isn’t going to help anyone. Plus, it makes you look like a bully. A little sugar on top never hurts when you’re giving advice.


Do you see yourself in any of these traits? We all do them from time to time, but a pattern of any of these behaviors might be the thing that's holding you back from getting that seat at the table. Want to dig deeper into your specific situation? Let's connect! Throw a one-on-one on my calendar, and let's get started with your game plan.


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