Seven Fail-proof Methods to Self-Sabotage at Work
Seven Fail-proof Methods to Self-Sabotage at Work
If you want to ensure that at the next round of layoffs you are one of those to be laid off, or that you are passed on for the next promotion, I’m happy to recommend some tried-and-true methods for eroding your Personal Brand and exposing yourself to a host of unpredictable risks.
Day in and day out, whether we are conscious of it or not, we each create our own ‘Personal Brand’ at work. Personal Brand experts assert that the multi-dimensional image that we construct consists of such things as personal appearance, attitude, competencies and The Differentiator – the unique value proposition or benefit we offer.
Most people don’t perceive themselves as possessing a ‘brand’ that requires constant nurturing and refinement. In fact, in the course of obliviously being their natural selves, they engage in a wide assortment of self-sabotaging behaviours.
You may already have your own unique methods for undermining your Personal Brand, but just in case you need some fresh ideas, here are seven industrial-strength ways to self-sabotage yourself at work:
1. Bring your moods to work. When you show up to work and warn everyone “I’m in a lousy mood, don’t even think of approaching me today with anything!” you’ll certainly get the relief you seek for that day. So why worry about the longer-term effects of this behaviour on your reputation?
2. Adopt an “It’s Not My Job” attitude. There are two distinct schools of practice for this method. First is the more ‘sophisticated’ one, where you indicate in ever so subtle ways to your manager or colleague asking you to go that extra mile that you are already overloaded and really cannot take on anything else. The second, which is practiced just as widely, is as follows: when someone asks you to help out with an extra task, you simply say “it’s not my job – can’t you see I‘m already overloaded with my own job?!”. When doing so, make sure to throw in some juicy bubble-gum chewing noises and to visibly keep your gaze fixed on the latest People magazine in front of you.
3. Skip your RSVP’s. This is a great way to reliably ensure that the resentful meeting convener will search for the first opportunity for retribution and readily make negative comments about you when the opportunity arises.
While at it, you may also consider arriving late for meetings. Those sitting and waiting for you will be quick to knock down any idea you may have or practice other forms of micro-aggression.
4. Gossip away! Make sure to hold onto the belief that gossip is a legitimate and fun part of life at work. And do ignore the new research in the field of ostracism and the brain that demonstrates that people who experience social exclusion suffer in ways that can be clearly detected in MRI scans. Don’t let that divert you from your commitment to gossip. If you’re intent on being perceived as petty, non-trustworthy or malicious, then making lively contributions to the office’s gossip mill will do the trick.
5. Whine when the company does something nice for you. When the company flies you and your spouse to an all-expenses-paid weekend, make sure to complain about the food or the temperature in the Olympic-sized swimming pool. After all, they made you leave your comfy home, so shouldn’t they at least make sure that everything is of highest quality?
6. Greet change with a sour stance. Here again, you can practice the more ‘sophisticated’ version, whereby you never openly critique the change. Rather, you follow the tradition of passive resistance, relying on time-honoured practices such as eye rolling or ‘silent treatments’.
Or you may choose the more direct method. Here, you openly demonstrate a negative or cynical attitude, complete with ‘this will never work!’ or ‘you can’t trust management!’ statements. Subtle or active, these behaviours comprise one of the best ways to get your superiors to terminally label you as a ‘non-player’. You’ll also alienate colleagues, who will make every effort to flee the vortex of negativity that you produce.
7. Skip the apologies. In the unlikely event of you making a work-related mistake or hurting someone’s feelings, make sure never to apologize. After all, people will quickly forget that you hurt them, won’t they?
If you’ve witnessed some of these behaviours or even practiced them yourself, you know that one thing is certain: when they occur, these behaviours are not only damaging to the person practicing them, they also create a problematic work climate. Research consistently demonstrates that organizational cultural can advance or stifle the organizational results. An unengaged work culture spills over onto the core of the business and the service it provides.
To prevent these behaviours from corroding the organizational fabric, there are several possible actions. If you have a determined leadership team and talented HR, changes can be made from within. Creating team operating agreement is always a worthwhile initiative. Other times, it is useful to take everyone through training that will create joint language and norms. Training that focuses on developing one’s Personal Brand, on self sabotage and on professionalism is highly effective in bringing about change, especially when the training effort is then tied into organizational processes such as performance appraisals or advancement opportunities.
Submitted by Sharon Bar-David