Watch Your Work Reputation and Relationships, They're All You've Got

You're speaking to a co-worker in the break room, venting frustration about a meeting you just left with your boss, throwing in a few not-so-nice comments about him for good measure, when you feel someone standing behind you. You turn around and see that it's him.

Don't you hate when that happens?

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Sometimes we say or do things that we regret immediately. And when that happens, the best thing to do is apologize.

But what could do more damage to your work relationships are the small infractions, things that we don't think are a big deal, but that others around us do notice and that work to slowly erode our reputations and credibility. Things like:

1. Gossiping

Talking about the misfortunes of others may make you feel better about yourself in the short-term, but it could also backfire. In 2007, for example, four women from New Hampshire were fired for gossiping because their employer found that it created an unfriendly environment.

2. Losing your temper

Before you throw something or say something in the heat of the moment, go to the bathroom or step outside and get some air. Give yourself time to cool down and formulate a more productive response.

3. Showing up to meetings late

Doing this frequently shows a lack of respect for others' time and won't win you any fans when you're trying to rally support to get something done.

4. Posting to social networking sites during business hours

You'll look like you have way too much time on your hands. Remember, posts are time-stamped, and even if you and your boss aren't Facebook friends, what you post online rarely ever stays private.

If you're the new kid on the cubicle farm, you have to be especially careful about how your actions are perceived by co-workers. You don't have a track record of great work and strong relationships to fall back on yet, so be on your best behavior.

Next: How to Stay Stay Sane in a Negative Work Environment

Liz Lynch


Years ago, Liz Lynch ran out of her first networking event after five minutes, but since then has become a top networking strategist, international speaker, coach, and radio show host appearing on CNN, ABC News, Fox Business News,, and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USAToday. Previously, Liz worked at Goldman Sachs, Disney, and Time Warner, and was most recently vice president of business development and strategy at BusinessWeek. She holds an engineering degree from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford University. For more smart networking tips and resources, visit

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