As human beings, behaviors define us. It’s no wonder that our behaviors affect the workplace — either positively or negatively.

Bad behavior in the workplace negates the progress of our career ladder.

Habits such as gossiping, procrastination, lack of punctuality, and laziness can reflect poorly on you.

While it doesn’t get you fired immediately, it affects performance reviews at the end of the year.

No one wants to find themselves stuck at the bottom of the performance ladder.

Hence, let’s find out ways to combat toxic behavior and what the signs are.


Do you say ‘Please’ when you ask for something?

Do you show gratitude when you receive something from a fellow colleague?

Do you hold the elevator button when you see a coworker rushing at you from a distance?

If none of these statements or actions seem to ring true to you, you suffer from workplace toxicity.

Workplace toxicity is when you contribute to the overall negativity and add to the stress of your work environment. Working in a toxic environment is harmful to your mental state and to others working around you.

To put it simply – toxic behavior contributes to a destructive workplace.

Toxic behavior comes with early signs before it begins to manifest entirely. The following are a few ways –

Anxiety – Nervousness, apprehension, and fear are some of the other names of anxiety. Over 40 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from anxiety.

That’s roughly 18% of the entire population. A person suffering from anxiety is always at risk of heart problems due to increased triggers of panic.

Apart from being a threat to themselves, anxious people are considered toxic in the workplace as they are a physical threat to those around them.

An emotional response triggered by restlessness increases workplace conflicts among colleagues. This is a direct liability for the company.

Anxiety is a mental disorder and those with a history of anxiety attacks are never hired to eliminate workplace threats.

Signs of anxiety involve –

  • Excessive sweating for no reason
  • Difficulty in controlling your emotions
  • Constantly in a state of rapid heart rate
  • Hyperventilation or rapid breathing
  • Concentrating on the future over the present
  • Trembling sensations
  • Feelings of doom and worry

It’s normal to have the following anxiety signs occasionally as humans are prone to nervousness.

But if you’re constantly in a restless state every waking day, it’s time to term the condition ‘Anxiety’ and take a medical opinion from a psychiatrist.

Depression – Often depression is termed as anxiety and there seems to be no difference between the two for the sufferer. The two are so commonly related that roughly 50% of patients diagnosed with depression usually have an underlying anxiety disorder.

Depression is the big bad older brother of anxiety, and if signs of anxiety are left for long, a person is said to be depressed or suffering from the effects of depression.

Depressed individuals generally stay away from people and avoid communication altogether. They are withdrawn and in a state of irritability.

One of the most defining traits of depression is the fact that the sufferer is prone to suicidal tendencies or thoughts of ending their life.

Being depressed directly affects your work performance. You feel less eager to perform your professional duties and spend most of your time lost in moody thoughts.

There is less ambition to give your best and you’re simply working as a need to survive.

Depressed individuals aren’t looked upon positively by their work colleagues.

This toxic behavior is considered to bring down everyone’s energy levels and hence, companies screen fresh recruits rigorously for past episodes of depression before they hire.

Signs of Depression include –

  • A permanent state of hopelessness and self-loathing
  • Constantly irritated or cranky
  • Carrying guilt and thinking about failures
  • A poor appetite and weight loss signs
  • No energy to do mundane tasks
  • Mild to heavy migraines
  • Lack of sleep
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Ignoring depression affects your professional life by negating your social skills and making poor career choices.

Depressed individuals rarely focus on their work and instead prefer to find company in their isolation.

Usually, depression is caused by tragic life events such as child abuse or relationship problems. Depression rarely solves itself and requires therapy to remedy.

Narcissism – According to the Mayo Clinic Research team, narcissistic behavior is a mental disorder where people have an inflated sense of confidence that they are superior to others.

A narcissist in a workplace gloats about their own accomplishments and quickly shifts the spotlight onto themselves in any given circumstance.

No one likes a vain or egoistic coworker that is always about – Me, Myself, and I.

A workplace is a team environment, and everyone likes to receive credit no matter how small their contribution to the project was. Narcissists remind others that the work they do is insignificant compared to their own.

In short, an exaggerated opinion of yourself is sure to create problems when you find yourself working in a team environment.

Signs of narcissism are –

  • An excessive obsessiveness of one’s own accomplishments
  • Extreme self-importance
  • Exaggerate accomplishments and lie about their talents
  • Take favors from others but don’t return the same
  • Unwillingness to feel empathy for the feelings of others
  • Envy to compete and always be in the spotlight
  • Extremely boastful and arrogant
  • Become angry when they feel they aren’t being listened to

Contrary to popular belief, narcissists perform extremely well during their job interview due to their positive impression of their own selves.

However, after being employed, the negative effects of their personality begin to take over and due to their bitterness, their fellow colleagues are soon to find them repulsive.

Negative Gossip – We’ve all had that occasional gossip targeting a coworker where we utter a few distasteful things but don’t really mean it.

However, gossip that is conducted regularly causes rumors in the work environment and this disrupts a balanced work environment. It brings the entire productivity of the company to a halt.

This type of toxic behavior cripples’ innovative ideas and promotes negative behavior amongst colleagues.

That’s why it’s important to stick to your own duties instead of meddling into other people’s lives.

There is a big difference between socializing and gossiping. Let’s find out with the following example.

  1. Hey Marge, do you have any plans for the weekend? Feel free to hang out with George and me, if you don’t have anything planned out, we are planning to rent a movie.”
  2. “Hey Marge, I’d advise you to not make any plans with George during the weekend. I’ve heard this rumor that he’s quite a violent individual. Let’s hang out together instead.”

In the first scenario, there is a positive invitation by a coworker to spend time over the weekend.

In the second scenario, there is a blatant accusation of a coworker of being violent.

This type of conversation creates animosity and hostility among coworkers and only disrupts the workflow between each other.

A simple rumor that isn’t true creates resentment and before you know it, war camps begin forming forcing you to join one or the other groups to show your allegiance.

Remember, your workplace isn’t a battlefield. There is no loyalty to be shown other than to your work.

Signs to find out if you suffer from negative gossip at the workplace are –

  • Incessant toxic personality to talk about the negativity of others
  • Surrounding yourself with negative personalities that always find fault in others
  • Workplace bullying or making fun of others
  • Always finding time to take short breaks to chit chat by the snack bar
  • Concentrating more on other people’s personal lives over your work priorities
  • Taking pleasure in a coworker’s downfall
  • Jealousy and envy when your coworkers succeed

Here is a quick test to find out if you like to gossip in a negative way or not.

Let’s say you’ve just heard the news that a coworker you’ve worked with for years got a promotion to a senior position. This is a dream position that you’ve been eyeing for a long time.

  1. A. Do you feel disappointed but congratulate your colleague and wish them the best?
  2. B. Are you angry at your coworker for taking something that was rightfully yours?

If you feel strongly towards option B, you obviously have resentment towards your coworker. Even if you’ve performed better than her and deserved the promotion. Work harder and prove your worth instead of talking ill behind your coworkers back.

If you truly believe you deserved the position, schedule a meeting with your boss and talk over your accomplishments and request an explanation for not being considered.

Your colleague has done no wrong and there is no room for resentment in a professional environment.

Be the one that breaks the gossip cycle and promote positivity.


According to a report by Science Daily, workplace toxicity stems from mainly three areas – unethical leadership, negative emotions, and a lack of communication.

Being human makes us susceptible to bad behaviors.

While we are oblivious to our own negative behaviors, we conveniently blame others for their mistakes.

That’s why it’s necessary to face the mirror and take a good look at our own behaviors.

Are we sabotaging our careers for a bad habit that we often overlook?

Have we been turned down from being promoted due to a heated incident in the past?

Let’s find out below with the kind of behaviors that make us lose our minds.

1. You Procrastinate Often

The word ‘Procrastinate’ is also known indirectly known as  – ‘No Work All Play’. Procrastination is the little guy that resides in all our heads when we’ve got a tough time to lay out our priorities.

He tells us it’s ok to put off important deadlines in favor of YouTube marathons, Social media addiction, and daydreaming.

A serial procrastinator is one who leaves everything to the last day of the deadline.

If you’ve had your boss tapping his foot at your desk more than once waiting for you to submit your project, you’ve undoubtedly invited procrastination into your life.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one unified reason to why people procrastinate their way through their professional careers. It could be due to stress, laziness, a complete lack of motivation, or poor management techniques.

Whatever the reason, procrastination is undoubtedly the single biggest contributing factor to an individual’s decline in their career spotlights.

However, all’s not lost, here are a few strategies to overcome procrastination.

Imperfection is Alright

Procrastination begins with you being too perfect with your techniques. It’s alright to be imperfect in a perfect world. We are human after all.

Begin planning immediately and don’t waste time in planning out all the different stages of various perfect concepts.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Exclude Distractions

You’ve set up your plan for the day and you begin working on it. 15 minutes into your work, your phone has a notification on it which reads — ‘Great deals on Smartphones today’.

And the next 3-4 hours are spent on searching for your next smartphone until you realize that you’ve just lost your daily war to procrastination.

  • Keep your smartphones on silent during worktimes. Everything else can wait.
  • Apps like Self Control and Freedom help in managing restrictions to time-sink websites
  • Ensure you’ve got a humidifier if the air levels are too dry. Oxygen levels play a role in how positively you think.
  • Light music like jazz is a good way to relax when you feel stressed instead of mobile games or entertainment sites.

Begin the Day with Work

Most employees usually spend the first few hours of their day gossiping about last night’s entertaining finale on Netflix. Don’t follow this routine.

Set the first hours of your day as the most productive hours.

This is the time to get your work done and this is when your brain is at its peak levels during the day.

  • Prepare your work schedule the night before in a quick checklist like the following
  • Check Emails
  • Submit Project Deadlines
  • Reply to Customer mails
  • Delegate with your work team on an upcoming project

Creating a checklist, allows you to quickly refer the morning after to maintain your focus on your priorities without distracting you.

2. You Prefer to be a Lone Wolf

Arriving at your work desk, ignoring eye contact with your fellow colleagues – to avoid starting a conversation is known as the lone wolf syndrome.

A wolf by itself, no matter how mighty, won’t have any chance of survival against a tougher predator.

Similarly, getting work done by yourself isn’t going to get you closer to that promotional ladder without the help of your coworkers.

There are times when freedom to work on your own terms is successful. Other times nothing can triumph the contribution of teamwork.

In the workplace, everyone is assigned their own job roles, and this makes for a perfect balance for people to come together and share their individual talent.

Another aspect of the lone wolf syndrome is seeing everyone you work with as a threat to your promotion.

breach of trust between your fellow work colleagues causes you anxiety and you feel miserable at the end of your workday.

Here are ways to ensure you don’t get lost from your wolf pack.

Extend your Support

We don’t mean pretending to be nice, we mean to put in an actual genuine effort to show that you’d support your fellow man and woman in a crisis.

The next time a newly recruited colleague is bogged down by workload, here’s your opportunity to give them advice on how to handle the pressure.

Giving direction or offering support goes a long way in socializing with your colleagues.

Ask for Help

Just like how you offer support to others, it’s a positive thing to ask help from them when you need it.

Don’t assume this is a sign of weakness, instead think of it like breaking the barrier between the two of you.

You’d be surprised to see how many extending hands would show to lend support to your cause.

Remember that seeking help isn’t a one-way street, when you’ve received help from a work colleague, make sure to return the favor when they need it.

Hobbies & Social Life

Work colleagues are the best way to make friends with.

After all, you spend a good portion of your day exchanging ideas and working with them.

It’s a good idea to spend time to understand their personal life and exchange your interests.

If there’s a hobby that the group of you have in common, it would do your social life good to head out and share the interest as a team. Having the support of others is beneficial for your mind after a long stressful day at work.

Human beings were meant to socialize and procreate to continue the cycle of life.

Hence, don’t forget the most characteristic key to evolution – mingle with your fellow brethren.

3. You Always Find Excuses to Come Late to Work

Author of ‘Never Be Late Again’, Diana DeLonzor recollects of her time when she would be late to work even after waking up at 6 in the morning.

This caused her to lose work relationships and was soon criticized heavily by her boss. While she tried her best to be on time, she always found herself asking herself ‘Why she was late?’.

One day, Diana found out exactly why she would turn up late at her workplace.

She spent her day reflecting on what were the actions she’d do the day before that caused her to never be punctual. Some of the poor habits were

  • Sleeping at unusual times every day
  • Losing track of time
  • Scheduling more tasks than she was able to complete in a day
  • Wasteful errands took up most of her day
  • Feelings of anxiety leading to laziness

Many of us relate to Diana in a professional environment.

No one that is late to work truly likes to be late on purpose but it’s the errands that we commit to that are unaccounted for throughout the day.

These little minor assignments cost us valuable time when we should be keeping track of the most important duties.

Below is a checklist on how you could prepare to save precious time every day.

  • Prepare your breakfast and dinner the night before when you have the time.
  • Stick to having a basic after-sleep routine that doesn’t complicate your morning after.
  • Don’t leave things to the last minute. If it takes you 12 minutes to reach work, start a good 40 minutes early. It’s better to be early than late.
  • Weather forecast should be on your mind before you leave. Rain, snow, and heavy winds are things that could delay your commute.
  • Time your daily activities – Showering, breakfast time, reading the newspaper, getting dressed, etc. and give yourself the same time frame every day.
  • If you must dry clean and iron your clothes yourself, do it the night before.
  • Pick out your clothes the previous day or align a space in your wardrobe for your office dress code for the entire week.
  • Have a contingency time for reaching your office, give yourself 15 minutes of extra time on the clock to keep up with your pace.

Being punctual to work shows the drive to perform exceedingly well. With drive comes a prospect for progress. And with progress comes recognition to perform in the big leagues.

This is how you become a stern candidate for promotional opportunities in your company.

4. You’ve Got a Bad Body Language

While you’re the most hard-working employee in your company and put in several hours of overtime every week, it’s still not enough if you lack the appropriate body language.

In a professional world, body language speaks volumes on the type of people we are. After all, what people perceive us as, is how they react to you – whether on a positive or negative note.

Bad body language includes the following –

Eye Contact

Eye contact can make the difference between showing your confidence or your lack of confidence.

If you aren’t holding the gaze of your eyes into the person, you’re talking to for 60% of your overall communication time, you lack the confidence.

Excessive staring is again a bad thing. When your eyes meet another person’s gaze and refuse to blink but follow them all over.

Not only is this creepy but colleagues can file a harassment case if it’s done deliberately.

Facial Expressions

Are you always sad or frowning?

Being unhappy all the time demonstrates a lack of will and it’s a complete turn off in a positive work environment. There’s no way an employee who displays negative emotions is ever getting the toss-up the ladder.

Hand Posture

Crossing your hands when talking to a colleague or a boss is downright rude. It shows that you don’t respect the person you’re talking with and have a score to settle.

Moving your hands all over the place is considered as nervous telltale signs, it’s best avoided when talking to senior coworkers.

Mouth Signs

Obvious abuse of bad body language is yawning wide and openly in front of your colleagues when they are talking. Chewing gum is also the bane of professionalism.

If you must yawn, do so in a private space after excusing yourself. When chewing gum or yawning, it conveys that you don’t care what the other party is saying and hence, your attention is not worth their time.


When we get passed over from being promoted, we usually blame others or the people around us for the mistakes that lie within us.

But when we spend time to expose our own bloopers, we start to see why we weren’t considered for a high-class position in the company when we were found lacking.

If after following all the positive rules, you still find yourself in the same position, the problem may not be with you. It’s time to find greener pasture elsewhere.

4 Toxic Behaviors that Prevent You from being Promoted

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