Top 10 Things You Should Never Do at Work

Take These 10 Actions and You Could Kill Your Career

Gossip and profanity at work
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When you're at work, you should be working—of course—but, you're also human. That whole human thing means you make mistakes from time to time and you do some things that are not ideal. Everyone does, and it's not a huge problem. But there are some things that you should never, ever do at work. Here are the top ten.

Use Your Computer for Anything You Wouldn't Want Your Boss to Know About

Lots of bosses don't care if you check your personal email, post to your Twitter account, or shop for flowers for Mother's Day on your work computer. That doesn't mean that you have free rein on your computer.

No porn, of course. But, don't job hunt, tweet anything inappropriate, or do anything that would cause your boss to freak out. Remember, your company IT department can have access to everything you do on that computer, even when you use it at home.


You can whine at home to your friends and family, but whining at work is a career killer. This doesn't mean that you can't complain about problems. When you complain, however, your complaint should identify a problem that is fixable with an action plan that you and your organization can implement. When you whine, it's just whining and makes you look immature.


Yes, you want to become friendly with your coworkers. But, they don't need to know all of your drama—whether it is relationship drama, family drama or medical drama. This doesn't mean that you need to be a closed book, but it does mean keep the sharing of the personal drama under control.

Telling your co-workers that you're going through a divorce is okay. Sharing every detail about what your soon-to-be ex is doing is not. Keep business relationships professional.

Ignore Your Boss's Warnings

When your boss says you need to come in on time, she really means it. When your boss says your attitude needs adjusting, it needs adjusting. When your boss says she wants you to focus on task A before going on to task B, you better make A, your priority. When you don't pay attention to these warnings, you put your career on the line.

Always Say Yes

Your boss didn't hire you because she needed a robot. She hired you because you had knowledge, skills, and abilities that make you great at what you do. This means you need to speak up and share your ideas. After you've expressed your doubts about an idea and your boss says she still wants you to do it her way, do it that way, but use your intellect to present new ideas.

Anything Illegal

This really shouldn't have to be said, but so many people break so many laws all of the time, they obviously don't think it's a big deal. Think about speeding. Everyone does it, right? But don't do it when you're driving on company business. What about working off the clock? You shouldn't do that either. Don't sign documents you're not legally authorized to sign. Don't do drugs. Don't let regulations slide. Be a stickler for legality.

Anything Immoral

Don't lie. Don't have an affair. Don't set out to undermine your coworker. Sure, all of those activities can seem fun at the moment, but if you're busted, even if it's not directly related to your job, it lowers everyone's opinion of you. You don't want people thinking of you as Jane, who had the affair with her boss. Or, Patrick, the guy who tried to make his team look bad to a senior manager despite his own involvement in the failed project.

Recommend Your Friends Because They Are Your Friends

Lots of companies have employee referral programs, and they are great. If you know someone who would be fabulous in a position in your company, by all means, recommend that person. If someone you recommended gets hired, you'll likely get a bit of extra cash. Awesome.

But, don't recommend a person just because you are friends. That tends to end up as a disaster. Remember, it's not just about the referral bonus and it's not just about getting your friend a job, it's about your reputation. If you know or even worry about the possibility that your friend is a slacker, don't recommend her.

Spread Germs Around the Office

Now, it's true that many companies don't have sick plans and in some cases, you'll get in trouble for taking time off, even if you have a fever of 104 and spend half the day in the bathroom. If that's the case, then a pox upon your boss's head and hopefully, he catches whatever you have.

But, if your company has a sick plan or any PTO that you could use when you're contagious, for Pete's sake, take it. When you're sick, you're not working up to speed, and you're infecting others. If they get it, their productivity drops as well.

One person with the flu can decimate an office. Stay home. If you can't stand not working, work from home if possible, but pretty please, keep the germs to yourself.

Let Anger Take Over

Your job can be one of the most stressful things in your life. Don't, however, let your stress turn into anger that turns into bad behavior in the office. Yelling, screaming, punching a wall—or worse, punching a person—can be career limiting.

Punching a person also falls under that no illegal things category. You'll probably get fired and might land yourself in prison. Learn to count to 10 before responding. If you find yourself yelling a lot, use your company's EAP and get some anger management help. It will save your career.

You want your coworkers to like and respect you and your boss to appreciate you and your work professionally. You want to make the time you invest at work happy time, too. So, if you avoid these ten actions, what you want will come true and you'll have missed most opportunities for committing career suicide.