Whether you work in an office or remotely, you’re likely to spend a significant amount of time connecting and chatting with your colleagues. It’s inevitable that you’ll want to form friendships and close bonds in the workplace — after all, getting along with your team certainly makes work more enjoyable. But the wrong approach — or missing signs of a toxic personality — can leave people finding more trouble than camaraderie.
So when looking to connect with others, what kinds of behaviors should you keep an eye out for — both from others and from yourself? To find out more, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following:
What is one trait or behavior to watch for when connecting with peers at work?
Here’s what they advise you avoid:
1. Poor Body Language
I noticed that I was saying things with my body that I didn’t even intend. For example, holding my hair when I was speaking made my peers feel like I wasn’t confident about the subject at hand, which was never the case. I always wanted the best for my team members, but it didn’t come off that way. This is why it is important to focus on your body language and cues.
2. Oversharing Your Personal Life
Oversharing is one of the biggest mistakes that I see employees make, especially at a happy hour, holiday party or another professional event. Sharing too much personal information can lead to office gossip. Leave the dating, marital problems, political and religious talk for friends and family.
3. Relaxing on Deadlines
One danger when connecting with peers at work is becoming too relaxed with them, which may impact work. For example, you may be prone to be more relaxed with deadlines, but this can be a slippery slope. It’s good to make friends at work, but make sure it doesn’t impact the quality of your work.
4. Cliques and Drama
Something to be careful of when connecting to peers in the workplace is forming a clique or becoming a part of one that is already established. In general, it’s a good idea to stay away from interactions or groups that demand you “pick sides” in some kind of petty rivalry or tribalistic in-group. You should focus on avoiding as much drama as possible. This isn’t high school, after all!
5. Absorbing Laziness
Laziness is contagious. A person with no drive and passion with their work can affect your own performance. When you see them doing the work “just to get by,” it’ll affect your motivational mindset to do more and overachieve certain tasks and responsibilities. Laziness is like a virus. When you hang around people who are lazy, eventually you’ll turn into one too.
6. Failing to Acknowledge and Understand Different Perspectives
The office is a converging point of people who see the world from a unique perspective. It’s always easy to misunderstand what another person says or does; what we’ve grown up believing in, our own experiences and our prejudices all influence how we respond to something. When we train our minds to acknowledge these differences, however, we avoid unnecessary conflict.
7. Ambition That Comes at the Expense of Others
Your people should always want to be their best selves, but for some people, the fastest way up the ladder is to pull someone else down. Those who work to improve their position by undermining others — by strategic tattling, rushing to blame and going behind other’s backs — are just as likely to turn that energy on the whole company as they are a single team member.
I love when my team connects. I think it makes for a friendly environment, but only if they include everyone. I never want to see someone left out of a circle or event. To me, that is the one big danger. The moment cliques begin forming, you have trouble in the office.
You should try to keep an eye out for negativity and toxic individuals in the workplace. These people want negative results no matter the situation. Be it gossiping, being consistently tardy or using inappropriate language, these individuals are harmful not only to themselves but to others around them. Identify them early on and be polite and cordial with them, but don’t engage in the negativity.
10. ‘That’s Not My Job’
At your place of work, all of the employees should want to contribute to making the business better. So if someone is always saying, “Oh, that’s not my job” and refusing to do tasks they feel are beneath them, it can be toxic. Don’t let their bad attitude bring you down or affect your willingness to step up for your team.
Don’t hang out too much with peers who like to gossip. If you do, you might start gossiping with them, which is a bad habit to get into. If you find yourself in a conversation that turns into a gossip session, just try to gently steer the conversation in a different direction so you can avoid participating in that toxic behavior.
– John Turner, SeedProd LLC
12. Connecting With the Wrong Peers
Unfortunately, very few people in your company might be as ambitious as you are. Besides, if you hang out with the wrong peers, it can cost you a career. So here’s what you need to remember. If you’re B+ player in a B organization, then you’ll be a C player in an A organization. That’s why you need to hang out with those people who are smarter than you and strive to be the A+ player among them.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.