Let’s face it, if you want to get ahead at work and you keep getting passed up for promotions, there may be a reason. You might not have the skills you need or enough time in your current position. However, it may be even simpler than that. You may have some bad habits you aren’t aware of that are holding you back.

Think about it. What are some of the things your coworkers do that irritate you? Ever think about the fact that you might be doing some of those things as well? Here is a list of habits. you might have that you need to break if you want to get a promotion.

Irritating Ticks

Do you click your pen while you are deep in thought? Tap your foot or shake your leg? Do you chew on your pen cap or pop your gum? You may not even think about doing these things or even notice them anymore, but your coworkers do, and they may make it hard for them to focus.

Also, think about whether or not you are making unnecessary noise. Yes, it is cool to have a company culture where you can share things about your personal life, but while you are talking loudly to one friend about your great weekend, another coworker could be on the phone talking to an important client, and not appreciate the background noise.

Also, think about noises you may not notice if you are in a co-working space and do not have your own office. Your phone on vibrate might be vibrating the person next to you’s table top as well, and those dings you get on your desktop for every notification may be driving them closer to madness every day.

It seems small, but when you are going for a promotion, these things can weigh heavy on the mind of someone considering bringing you into their workspace.

Not Taking Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself can be anything from simply taking showers and smelling and looking clean to brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and washing your clothes. It is not just the smell, but it is also about your personal appearance. The higher you go up the ranks in any company, the more professional you are expected to look. This is because you become more of the face of the company, and a smelly, poorly dressed person with a wrinkled shirt is probably not the image your company wants to put forward.

Also, don’t take care of certain personal hygiene tasks at work. Sure, if you company has showers, and you can ride your bike to work and shower there, that is great. However, don’t clip your fingernails, or worse, your toenails while you are at your desk. Don’t be a nose picker, clean your ears with cotton swabs, or trim your facial hair. Those things belong at home, and no one wants to see or hear them.

These things can keep you from being promoted. Change these habits.

Coming in Sick

It may seem like you are a hero if you come in to work even when you are sick. After all, if you don’t have a fever or some rare disease, you are good to go, right? Wrong. There are a couple of reasons this does not work for your coworkers.

  • You Expose the Whole Office: If you are sick, even with a cold, coming in to work exposes the whole office to your illness. The company can actually lose more productivity than if you just stayed home for a day or two.
  • Your Sickness Noises: Sniffing, blowing your nose all day, and the constant trips to the bathroom? Not fun for your coworkers to hear, see, and deal with.

With many companies offering remote work options, it just does not make sense to come in sick. Stay home, get better, and then come back to work.

Showing up Unprepared

Sometimes, your boss or someone else will spring a surprise meeting on you, something you cannot possibly be prepared for. Most of the time though, you know what to expect when you walk into the office. Those who work with you should also know what to expect from you as well.



Show up prepared to work. Show up to meetings and client calls knowing the material you should know and have a strong and unique voice. Don’t just be a yes man for what management might be asking for, or your clients for that matter.

This can be one of the biggest career killers out there. Be ready for work every day, and ready for the things you are expected to do that day.

Taking Excessive Smoke Breaks

In most workplaces now, smoking is frowned upon, but not prohibited. You may just have to go to a designated area away from the building or be a certain distance from entrances. While smoking is tolerated, excessive smoke breaks can kill your career chances, not to mention the health benefits of quitting.

One alternative, though not embraced by all workplaces, is vaping. You can use e-liquid containing lower amounts of nicotine to taper off your usage and quit. Either way, you should cut down on the number and frequency of your smoke breaks, and even if you vape should keep the time that you do so at work to a minimum.


Finally, you don’t want to be known as a complainer. Do you complain about everything at work, from the HVAC system to the bathrooms to your boss and their habits? The likelihood you will get a promotion is really slim. You want to be a positive influence on your workspace.

This does not mean you can’t point out things that are wrong, but you should be pointing out solutions, not just complaining.


These six habits are just a few of the ones you want to avoid in your workplace if you want to get a promotion. If you find yourself doing any of them, find a way to break them sooner rather than later.

What are your best tips for getting that awesome promotion? Leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.