You know that coming in late, being a jerk to co-workers and botching your assignments can hurt your workplace reputation. However, you probably never thought the following actions could be making you look bad:
Having an overly clean, empty desk. Your desk shouldn’t be heaped with old papers or covered in tchotchkes, and you should do your best to keep it organized. Still, if you have nothing personal in the space, it could suggest that you aren’t making yourself comfortable because you don’t plan on sticking around very long. Include one or two personal photos, a plant or other items to personalize your space.
Coming up with an excuse for everything. Some people always feel the need to justify everything—even when they have messed up. If you constantly blame other people or circumstances for your failings, when you do have a legitimate excuse, no one will want to hear it. Accept accountability for your mistakes, and leave the excuse-making for when a situation truly is out of your control.
Eating at your desk. OK, so maybe your boss will praise your work ethic, but your co-workers will most likely just be annoyed. The crackling of food wrappers, loud chewing and smelly food distract those around you. Furthermore, if you are the co-worker who always eats alone, rather than joining others in the break room or at a restaurant, you could quickly earn a reputation as anti-social or snobbish. Be conscious of the people around you when you do eat at your desk, and at least occasionally join co-workers for lunch.
— Adapted from “12 Surprising Work Habits That Make You Look Unprofessional,” Kaitlyn Chamberlin, Reader’s Digest, www.rd.com.