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    by Ty Howard

5 Toxic Habits to Not Bring to Work

Copyright © 2010 by Ty Howard.   All rights reserved.

There are bad habits that you can bring to work, and then there are toxic habits that you can bring to work. Bad habits usually irritate others around you and delay progress in some way, shape or form. Toxic habits go beyond mere irritation of co-workers—they decrease employee morale, sabotage team performance, and destroy work relationships.

The fact is, if an employee or employees are able to exist within an organization or team with toxic habits, that organization or team will never achieve the desired results it sets out to accomplish. That’s the simple law of Cause and Effect. Healthy habits create positive rewards. Toxic habits breed negative outcomes.

If you want to distance yourself from the countless number of employees who bring bad and toxic habits to work, and enjoy being a co-worker who is liked and called on regularly, understand this—your habits will create your future.

The 5 Toxic Habits to Not Bring to Work are:
1) A Negative Attitude
2) Not Being a Team Player
3) Gossiping
4) Know-It-All
5) Resisting Change

Let’s explore the 5 Toxic Habits to Not Bring to Work each day and how to break these toxic habits that are becoming more common in the workplace.

Toxic Habit #1: A Negative Attitude

There’s nothing more energy-zapping and morale-draining as having to deal with a negative, sarcastic, spiteful, and pessimistic co-worker. If you are the co-worker who complains a lot, focuses on reasons why things can’t be done, and promotes negative commentary throughout the organization that venomously predicts poor outcomes—you are the transporter of a negative attitude at work.

How to Break Toxic Habit #1: Instead of coming to work with a negative attitude, try stringing together a series of “A” Days for the next 30 days. To string together a series of “A” Days, it will require you approaching each work day with a positive attitude that each day will be an “A” Day. The reality is—not every day will be an “A” Day; yet, if you approach each day with an “A” Day mentality, you will string together more positive and productive “A” Days than any other days. In turn, your change of attitude and behavior will contribute to improving employee morale, team performance, work relationships, and your overall health and position for advancement.

Toxic Habit #2: Not Being a Team Player

Another toxic road to failure at work is refusing to be a team player. If you are the co-worker who does not show up every day for work on time, who does not take care of your assigned responsibilities and workload, who only cares about self-gain and recognition, who refuses to pitch in and work a little harder, even on a task that is not specifically assigned to you—you are NOT a team player at work.

How to Break Toxic Habit #2: Start today by committing to participate in work activities (even tasks that aren’t specifically assigned to you), show up for work on time, promote the recognition of your team members first, get your workload and responsibilities completed ahead of deadlines, create opportunities to get to know your co-workers and for them to get to know you, and practice having good manners and a friendly disposition on a daily basis. Becoming a better team contributor will make you a more valuable player.

Toxic Habit #3: Gossiping

At work you’ve created great friendships and have lots of colleagues who you interact with on a daily basis. No matter how you would like to avoid it or even if you enjoy it, gossip at work is a part of life. Yet, there’s a fine line between sharing a quick story/situation and being a toxic gossiper. If you are the co-worker who likes to gossip because it makes you feel more powerful and popular, attracts attention and puts you on center stage for the moment, bonds you with the group of popular office gossipers, makes you seen as “in the know” to co-workers, and provides you with several sets of ears when you need and want to vent—you are a toxic gossiper.

How to Break Toxic Habit #3: If you tend to gossip over lunch, maybe you have to rethink who you’re going to lunch with regularly. Conversations with co-workers always demand a certain level of discretion in order to protect people’s privacy and respect their boundaries. Asking too many personal questions and snooping into people’s private affairs can make them feel uncomfortable and not trusting of you. If someone wants to involve you in gossip, refuse to take their invitation. Each time you avoid getting involved in gossip, the easier it will get. It’s the first couple of times that it will be a conscious effort to resist the temptation. Amidst all the challenges, stay focused on the benefits you will gain by not becoming entangled again in this toxic habit.

Toxic Habit #4: Know-It-All

Know-it-alls act like they are experts when they aren’t. However, they don’t always know they aren’t experts, which makes them very challenging and poor team players to work with. If you are the co-worker who is always right, craves every opportunity to look smart and important, has a low tolerance for correction or contradiction, likes to learn a little about a lot of things, and is often so condescending that you do not have the patience or time for others to catch up to your way of thinking—you are a toxic know-it-all.

How to Break Toxic Habit #4: If you think you might be a know-it-all or a friend, relative or co-worker has told you that you act like a know-it-all, here are a few pointers to help you break this toxic habit: Analyze the feelings that invade you when you finally stop talking. The only way to get to the source of your problem is to stop talking and think about why you feel the need to tell the world every little thing you know. Make a list of the elements of your personality that you dislike. Try to see yourself in the same way that others perceive you, paying special attention to your narcissistic and never wrong behavior. Take note of the way in which you react when confronted with criticism. Concentrate on the needs of your co-workers and show interest in what they're talking about or doing. Remember, other people feel the need to be listened to as well.

Toxic Habit #5: Resisting Change

In recent years, changes in the economy and business have forced several organizations to change the way they do business. Whether we like it or not, executives, managers and supervisors are the ones who have to implement the changes. The natural and first reaction to change is resistance. If you are a co-worker who thinks if you hold out long enough the new policies won’t stick; works to show and prove the new methods/systems are causing more problems than help; expresses that all customers are complaining about the new changes; quickly rejects to share the new products/services with customers; and gangs up on management with negative absolutes, such as “Everyone says that they’re very unhappy with the recent changes!” and “We’ve tried that in the past and it won’t work again, wait and see!”—you are resisting change with toxic behavior.

How to Break Toxic Habit #6: If you truly feel that a new method of doing something will be counterproductive to the company’s goals, express your concerns; and at the same time, bring with you a set of typed out alternatives that you think could work as well, or better. Change will happen with or without you, so it’s up to you to either take part in it or be cancelled out by it.

BONUS Tips to Help You More: Acknowledge and accept the bad or toxic habit that you want to change. Unless you have an interest and commitment to change, you will not act upon it. Have patience. Behavioral change takes time and support. Tell friends, relatives and co-workers – who genuinely care for you and your future success – about your plan and get them to support you. With some encouragement your journey to breaking the bad and toxic habits will not be a lonely one.

Being a good co-worker is as important as being a good worker. If you wish to be that person at work who people like and don’t cringe to call on, without having to sucking up to anyone, then leave both your bad and toxic habits at home.

To learn more about successfully freeing yourself from bad and toxic habits, read our best-selling book Untie the Knots® That Tie Up Your Life: A Practical Guide to Freeing Yourself from Toxic Habits, Choices, People, and Relationships.


About the Author: Ty Howard,
Mr. Untie the Knots®,
Freeing Maximal Business, Performance, and Human Potential Daily

Ty Howard is an internationally recognized authority on organizational and managerial practices that optimize employee performance and success. He is the creator and lead facilitator of the trademarked "Untie the Knots® Optimal Performance Process," and the author of Untie the Knots®: Improving Habits, Choices, People, Relationships, Performance and Results, as well as dozens of published articles on employee and organizational performance and development worldwide. For information on his programs and services, visit: http://www.tyhoward.com.


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