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A great book by Marshall Goldsmith outlines 20 often-unconscious habits that can damage your relationship with colleagues, family, or people that work with you closely. These traits can often also impact careers and opportunities for promotion as they put you in negative light despite hard work, devotion or talents that could make you a good candidate. These have nothing to do with skills or experience, but everything to do with interpersonal interaction, which plays an important role in every long-term working relationship. Here is the list:

1. Winning too much – winning at all costs, or striving to hit a winning last word to every conversation;

2. Adding too much value – adding our 2 cents everywhere ties to the first habit – don’t insist on your opinion just because you want to appear a winner with correct answer every time;

3. Passing judgment - rating others when they provide suggestions can involuntarily damage relationships within your team. Grading suggestions will reduce the desire of many to provide you with feedback and may also create an impression that you are playing favorites. The recommendation Goldsmith gives is not grade suggestions as good, or bad. The author recommends we take any suggestion silently, always. This will show you are a good listener, and your team will love you for it.

4. Destructive comments - sharp denigrating remarks to persons in front or others, or behind people’s back. Both present lack of tact, self-control, or courage, which are not traits on a path up any ladder.

5. Starting replies with no, but, however, or other negatives – the absolute initiative killers. Ask people to catch you while you’re doing it, this can be a very annoying and hard to stop habit, that puts on you the list of No-Getters.

6. Telling how smart we are – displaying intellectual superiority or asserting ourselves proves nothing but ego, which others around you are supposed to deal with… and nobody is going to stand dealing with that for long, for no reason.

7. Speaking when angry – the book describes this habit as screaming at an empty vehicle coming at you… anger shifts attitudes from perceptiveness to defensiveness. What that means is, people will be more likely to think about their next response to your offenses, than about listening to your chants.

8. Sharing negative thoughts when your opinion is not solicited (“Let me explain why that won’t work”). This is a way of inserting oneself as a senior critic; it can be very annoying to others. Everybody has a difficult job at one point or another, and negativism will not make it easier. Way to go if you are trying to blow initiative around you into pieces.

9. Withholding information – unless you are working for an intelligence gathering agency, this is very frequently seen as a power trip. It is a common Machiavellian method for achieving a sense of importance, and a great stimulus for others to think twice before entrusting you with leadership. A great quote by an unknown author says: “Don’t be irreplaceable, because when you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.”

10. Inability to give credit – when working in teams, not giving credit at the end of a project deprives people of closure – the jewel in the end of a hard passing. If your summary of the project closing-credits starts with “I”, instead of “We” you are placing a glowing red flag on your teamwork skills.

The list goes on with these career killers:

11. Overestimating our contribution
12. Making excuses
13. Clinging to the past – deflecting blame to the past
14. Playing favorites – this one may quickly erode team trust in a new manager
15. Refusing to show regret and admit we’re wrong
16. Not listening
17. Failing to express gratitude
18. Punishing the messenger
19. Passing the buck, blaming everyone else
and
20. Exhaling our virtues.

I highly recommend reading (or getting an audio copy) of Goldsmith’s book. It can be an early and very helpful eye opener for many who are successful in their technical careers and are looking into, or being looked at, for leadership roles.

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Posted by: Diana Zink on Thursday, 17th Apr, 2008

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Posted under: Careers, People 2.0