Don't Be This Person at the Office

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Everyone has experienced a coworker that the whole office can't stand.

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There's all sorts of reasons that can happen; sometimes it's just a case of someone having a personality which pushes buttons for other people. In many cases, though, it's possible to become the person at the office that everyone secretly (or maybe not so secretly) dislikes.

Many people simply don't know when their behavior has slipped into a zone that makes it uncomfortable for other people. That's often because the behaviors listed below are fine in small doses, or even admirable in some cases -- but if they become patterns, then you risk being that guy (or lady) at the office.

Don't be the complainer

Selena Maranjian: One problematic kind of office worker is the complainer. Being a complainer can get in the way of career success, and can even hurt you socially. For starters, it's a drag being around someone who is generally very negative. Sure, there may be lots of ways that your workplace could be better, and yes, your boss might have a lot of room for improvement, but frequently grumbling about what's wrong isn't likely to lead to positive change.

There are other downsides to being a complainer, too. It can lead to:

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  • People avoiding you in the workplace -- in part because they don't want to be thought of as complainers, too
  • Your supervisor(s) seeing you as dissatisfied, which doesn't put you in a good light
  • You focusing mainly on negative things and not appreciating all that is working well
  • General unhappiness for you, which can get in the way of your productivity at work and your overall well-being
  • A decline in workplace morale, by causing others to be less motivated and productive

If you complain a lot, you may also be seeing yourself as a victim, and that has its own set of dangers: Victims are likely to avoid taking responsibility for things going wrong, blaming others instead.

In general, being negative is not likely to help you get ahead at work or even to enjoy your work. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, too, where the bad outcomes you expect are just what you get.

It's best to develop a positive mind-set. Others will appreciate an upbeat attitude and a can-do approach to projects and challenges. And if you hate your job that much, maybe it's time to consider plan B.

Don't be the volunteer

Maurie Backman: If there's one person at the office not to be, it's the employee who's always volunteering to take on that extra project or assist another team. A willingness to jump in and help is a positive quality to a point, but if you become that person who's constantly offering to go above and beyond, a couple of negative consequences are bound to ensue.

First, you'll risk spreading yourself too thin, which will not only put a strain on your time, but also quite potentially inhibit your career growth. Furthermore, if you come to be known as that person who's always ready to go the extra mile, others might inevitably take advantage. And then, if you do say no to a given project or task that falls outside your typical coverage area, you might actually come across as uncooperative.

It's kind of like that trap of staying late most nights to get your work done and having someone fling the dreaded "half day" comment at you the one night you attempt to pack up at 5 p.m. sharp. If you become that person who always volunteers, others will be extra-disappointed on the rare occasions you say no. Not only that, but working extra hours can make you less productive

A better bet, therefore, is to strike a balance. Jump in to save the day on occasion, but don't become the one person the rest of your colleagues bank on to pick up the slack. 

Don't be the credit hog

Daniel B. Kline: People tend to view their contributions to a project in different ways. You may think you did most of the work while your colleagues may see it differently. In some cases you are both right, while sometimes one of you may be decidedly wrong.

It doesn't matter. Share credit liberally and you'll avoid problems with your coworkers resenting you. In some cases you may even gain favor with someone who knows you are overplaying their contributions.

In the end, chances are your boss(es) will figure it out. If you actually work harder or get more done, that will be noticed, and will mean more than you tooting your own horn.

Sharing credit may be painful at times, especially if you really did the lion's share of the work. Short-term pain, however, is not worth the long-term hassle of being viewed poorly by the people you have to work with. Be a bigger person, and you'll have a happier work environment. And, if you're looking for something to distinguish you from your colleagues, consider picking up a new skill instead.

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