Tips to Avoid Being the Jerk in the Office

John Krautzel
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Your professional reputation has a big impact on your day-to-day workplace experience. In comparison with the office jerk, a well-respected worker experiences easier collaboration, a friendlier atmosphere and better relationships with workmates. By taking steps to avoid being the bad coworker, you can avoid behaviors that alienate your colleagues.

1. Don't Gossip

Gossiping is one of the quickest ways to become a bad coworker. When you speak badly about someone in the office, your colleagues are likely to assume you'll eventually speak badly about them. As a result, you might find that coworkers don't trust you, or that it's difficult for you to form strong working relationships. While some level of complaining is natural in any company, it's important to minimize your complaints. By staying above the fray, you can avoid getting drawn into drama and maintain a positive, professional reputation.

2. Avoid Loud Conversations

It's difficult to focus on work when someone in the office is talking loudly, either on the phone or in person. Avoid being this type of bad coworker by keeping your speaking voice low. There's no need to whisper — simply use a calm, professional tone. If you need to have long discussions with someone in the office, do your colleagues a favor and head to the break room or a conference area. This is particularly important in offices with open floor plans, where loud voices are particularly grating.

3. Recognize Contributions

In a work environment, it's easy to take other people's contributions for granted, particularly if the contributor is in a subordinate position. Your colleagues probably don't expect someone to say "thanks" for everything they do, but a repeated pattern of ignoring team contributions can make you a bad coworker. Avoid this trap by making a point to recognize the work of others. Comment on colleagues' accomplishments, for example, or thank a coworker for making your life easier. Don't take credit for someone else's work with the boss. Small bits of recognition can go a long way toward building positive relationships with your colleagues.

4. Don't Get Personal

A certain level of personal disclosure is part of building professional relationships, but crossing the line can turn you into a bad coworker. When bonding with colleagues, stick to neutral topics, such as a shared love of running or a specific sports team. Stay away from anything that's too personal or controversial, including dating drama, information about your wild weekend or your intense political beliefs. Overly detailed information can make your colleagues uncomfortable — worse, it can set off their personal biases, negatively impacting your ability to work together.

No one wants to be the bad coworker in the office, but it's not always easy to know when you're heading in that direction. By avoiding behaviors that are typical of office jerks, you can maintain great relationships and contribute to a positive work environment.

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