Bad habits bosses hate

Whether you’re new to the role or a seasoned employee, the last thing you want is a reputation around the office as a habitual hassle. Bosses are human too, so chances are they have pet peeves that you could be committing without even realising it.

To stay on your boss’s good side, read on to find the six things that drive bosses and colleagues crazy. If you’re guilty of one or all of these crimes, stop being a repeat offender and break your bad habits immediately!

Number 1: Tardiness

Just as no one likes a clock-watching manager, no one likes employees who habitually roll in to work late. Sure, we’ve all been caught in a traffic jam before, but recurrent bouts of tardiness show your boss you’re just not that into your job.

Number 2: Whingeing

Too hot, too cold. Work sucks, you hate your team, you’re tired and stressed. If you find yourself complaining about everything and everyone, it’s time to suck it up and stop whining quick smart. Even if you don’t radiate positivity by nature, no one wants a Negative Nancy in their office. Workplaces with a positive atmosphere are the most conducive to productivity, so unless you want your negativity to spread like wildfire, save it for later.

Number 3: Zoning out

While some meetings may be a complete yawn fest, it’s important to maintain a professional demeanour no matter how long the meeting drags on. Suffice to say, your boss will notice if you aren’t taking notes, if you’re constantly checking emails (or worse – swiping left on Tinder), or if you’re not contributing when you should. Pay attention for the duration of the meeting so you’re not caught off guard if you’re called to answer a question or provide input.

Number 4: Under-dressing

The dress code in most modern workplaces doesn’t require suits, ties and high heels anymore, but tracky-dacks and backwards caps is taking things a little too far, even for causal Friday. While some offices don’t mind jeans, it’s always better to dress at least one level above what’s required. You will feel more professional and people will admire you for your corporate fashion sense.

Number 5: Texting too much

These days, everyone usually keeps their phones on their desks, sneaking in the odd text or checking their Facebook feed throughout the day. But don’t make a habit of it. Your boss will notice if you’re constantly preoccupied with your phone when you’re supposed to be working. Keep your phone use to a minimum, and turn off that Rocky ringtone!

Number 6: Eating too loudly

While the waft of canned tuna is acceptable in today’s health-conscious office, scoffing your food loudly is a no-no – especially if you sit within close proximity to the boss. The same goes for chewing gum, don’t do it! And while we’re at it, no one, we repeat, no one, likes 

You wrote what?! How not to email

In this old Digital Age, we often find ourselves communicating through technology more than in person. Emailing is a great tool for work as it allows you to contact your co-workers, boss or clients any time, any day and from anywhere in the world. A word of caution, though; replacing face-to-face communication with computer screens can sometimes lead to misinterpretations.

Without being able to hear the other person’s tone of voice or facial expressions, it can be very easy to miscommunicate. Just think back to some of your emails - have you ever considered things rude or offensive? Chances are the writer wasn't intending for their message to be read this way.

To avoid sounding rude or a little abrupt when communicating via email, follow these two simple rules:

1. Avoid using ‘actually’ in your emails

It sounds a little crazy that this word (which seems on the face of it a pretty common, harmless word) shouldn’t be used when emailing, yet it can be read extremely different from how you intended! Actually can seem like you are correcting the person. We've all no doubt wanted to correct someone at work at one time or another, especially when that over-bearing manager is trying to pick you apart for something that wasn’t your fault. But we know it’s not the right thing to do in most situations. To negate the reader thinking we are being defensive and having a little attitude it's best to cut actually from our vocabulary.

An example of the power of the word actually is:

Your boss: “I don’t think that figure is correct, you might need to check it against the others.”
You: “Actually, I got that figure off the company’s website.”


“I understand what you mean. I got the figure off the company’s website, but will double-check it.


2. Scrap the ‘sorry’

The word sorry is just as polite as your Ps and Qs, right? After all, it's been drilled into us from a young age to apologise when we are wrong, right? Well, this is all still true, however there are better ways to admit our faults, rather than saying sorry. The problem with the word sorry is that it is such a basic, common and convenient way to admit wrongdoing. As a result, when we say sorry (regardless of whether you are being sincere or not) it can come across as dismissive, non-genuine and sometimes a little sarcastic. The word sorry is so over-used that it has in some way lost it’s meaning and can be taken in other ways, especially over email. It's also important to attempt to explain in a direct way how you will improve or change your fault in the future. This provides the other person with some reassurance that the problem has been resolve, and allows you to demonstrate your sincerity and professionalism.

To avoid seeming careless and dismissive, replace sorry with a few of these phrases:

You’re right

Going forward I will ensure that doesn’t happen again

I understand why you’re upset

Now, let’s see the difference:

I’m sorry I forgot about the meeting.”


“I apologize - it slipped my mind. I will make sure that from now on I check my diary every morning so it doesn’t happen again.”

The latter provides a much more mature, respectful response and allows a little bit of sincerity in your message.


3. Read your email aloud

One of the most crucial tips to remember when communicating through email is to re-read your email before you send it! Re-reading your message is a way of ensuring:

  • Your message actually makes sense (some Monday mornings are a little too hard and our emails can sometimes sound like gibberish!)
  • You haven't made any typos. While computers (and even smart phones) have spell-check, it’s easy to miss that tiny red line underneath your misspelled word, so double check!
  • The intention of your message. Reading your emails aloud before hitting the send button is a great way to ensure you haven’t used any language or words (remember actually and sorry are not your friends) which could potentially be considered offensive or a little rude. Re-read it, edit it then send it!

Most of us spend our working days firing off email after email without so much as a glance at the keyboard. By taking a bit of extra time to formulate our messages, we can ensure our reader interprets our message the way we intended it, actually

Four types of employees you don’t want to be!

Without trying to be stereotypical, every workplace has at least one trying employee - and we all hope we aren’t one of them!

They are the type of employee and colleague that draws whispers and sighs when they walk into work. The type of employee that you avoid at all costs, even in the staff room. The type of employee you do not want to have work closely with.

So, with all that said, we want to make sure we are not THAT employee. Here is a description of the types of dreaded employees at a workplace, as a guide, to make sure we do not become one of them.

1. But that’s-not-my-job employee!

Everyone has encountered that one employee, the one who only wants to complete, perform and assist on tasks and jobs outlined in their contract. Oh, yes. There are some unions and work right communities that try to provide detailed accounts of what is expected of employees, however there are those employees who take these words… LITERALLY. The area on the contract or job description that can say “other duties if required” or “general office help/maintenance” actually means you can or do need to assist your working team, in some situations. Obviously, taking on other peoples’ work loads is not what we are asking, however to be a good team player and employee there are times when you just have to shut up, and help your colleagues.

2. The special employee!

No phones at work? They are on their phone from 9.00am till 5.00pm. Starting work at 9.00am? They stroll in at 9.15am, every day, some times 9.30am? Unapologetic, for sure. But, what’s worse than these employees? Their boss. Their boss allows and encourages their bad behaviour, and their lack of effort and work, because chances are their boss believes they are special too. Make sure you always follow the rules as others do, we are all equal at work.

3. No-boundaries employees!

Everyone has work-friends, sometimes you click with certain people and it develops into a personal friendship outside of the office. However, while at work there are certain people who think that over sharing with their colleagues at work is fine (I mean you spend five days a week together). Remembering to keep things professional at work is a must! Not everyone in the office needs to know the gory details of your date.

4. The drama king and queen employee!

The person who makes everything a HUGE deal at work. The employee who takes everything PERSONAL. The employee who is always reading WAY TOO much into everything. Yeah, there is always one drama king or queen at every office. And no one is that thrilled about them being there! Always remember to tone down the dramatics at work and the angry/emotional reactions to things. It’s not always the greatest way to earn points at work or how to be the most efficient, levelheaded worker. 

Smart and simple tips to help you work with someone that you really (really) dislike

In the workplace you find yourself having to work with many different people and occasionally that involves working with someone who you really (really) dislike. Co-workers can sometimes test your limits and patience at work; sometimes you feel like you would rather just work alone to avoid certain personalities.

However that is usually not a realistic scenario in many jobs and causes that dreaded “erghhh, work tomorrow” feeling on a Sunday, or in extreme cases, every day of the week.

Whether this particular co-worker works in your office, building or even the other side of the country, coming into contact with this person is unavoidable and that is enough to make you “hate your job”.

Finding a way to work through these ill feelings and creating a positive working relationship is a necessity. Why? Research shows that the relationships you have at work can affect your performance (not to mention your sanity). So, the better your relationships at work are, the more productive, successful and happier you will be.

How?! Here are four easy tips for overcoming that horrible feeling you experience when you have to come into contact with your least favourite co-worker.

1. Getting to know the person

It is easy to misinterpret gestures, comments and behaviour and misread or judge people we do not know. It’s a habit and sometimes it is unconsciously done, however it can be the explanation for negative work relationships. It has been stated that we as people have a tendency for liking people who are similar to ourselves. Getting to know this “horrible” co-worker could allow you to find some similar interests or qualities that you never took the time to find. It also can allow a chance for a little bit of understanding towards the person’s behaviour (which, potentially drives you crazy). Being able to understand a person more can decrease the chance of you taking certain things as ‘rude’ or as ‘personal attacks’, cause they sometimes aren’t, however the behaviour is just not what we are familiar with. Which leads us to step two….

2. Don’t take things personally

As much as a certain co-worker can be difficult (some are even impossible) it is very easy to take certain behaviours in the workplace as personal, even if they are not intended to be. Not taking actions or comments as personal attacks improves you overall happiness, satisfaction and ability to perform at work. However, taking things personally can lead to negative views of your job, yourself and the offender.

3. Set Boundaries

Unlikable people seem to always come along with undesirable behaviours. A way to avoid these is to be honest (and professional) with this co-worker. If your dreaded co-worker likes to try and pass their tasks onto you to be completed, being open and honest with them is key. To avoid these types of situation starting (or going any further) simple responses such as, “I’m sorry Robert* I can’t do that task for you as I am already working on Project A and B.” Simple and straight to the point.

4. Don’t Stress

When you are dealing with all of the pressures of your life: work, family, home and personal pressures, you don’t want or need to be adding any more stress into your life. Being able to identify what you can and can’t control is a very powerful trick to overcome the stresses attached to working with a particularly challenging co-worker. You can’t control what another person says or does, however you can control how it affects you and your reaction. Determining what you should allow to bother you and what you can control or shape (and what you can’t) will allow you to overcome the negative feelings, stress and dislike for certain colleagues at work. Prioritise what is worth thinking twice about and what you should allow to continue without your worry. This behaviour and thinking will allow better enjoyment in your job and a positive attitude towards your work and yourself. Work can be hard with all of the different personalities and people associated with it. Not everyone you meet will be easy to deal with or treat you how you would like to be treated. However, focusing on yourself and how you deal with these people and their behaviour, rather than focusing on the person and how to ‘change’ or ‘fix’ their behaviour allows you to improve these working relationships and still enjoy your job. Which, in turn provides yourself with a greater opportunity of success and satisfaction within your work.

Don’t buy your lunch

Buying your lunch is an expensive exercise – if you spend $10 a day on lunch, five days a week, that’s $2,400 a year.

You’re at work to make money, so don’t spend it at work.

Planning and preparing your weekday lunches on a Sunday not only saves you money, it saves time.

Try the following brain food recipe for an easy week day lunch. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function.

Japanese style salmon patties


  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 180g can pink salmon, drained, bones removed and flaked
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 1 bunch choy sum, trimmed
  • ½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. In a large bowl, combine rice, salmon, breadcrumbs, onion, egg, ginger, soy, coriander and chill. Mix well. Shape into 8 even-sized, flattened patties. Chill, covered, for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan on high. Fry patties in two batches, 3-4 minutes each side, until golden. Drain on paper towel.
  3. Wipe pan clean. Heat extra oil on medium. Stir-fry choy sum and tomatoes for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve patties with wasabi mayonnaise (see tip) and fresh vegetables.

Top tip

  • To make wasabi mayonnaise, combine 1/3 cup whole egg mayonnaise with 1-2 teaspoons of wasabi paste.

Recipe courtesy of Ninemsn Food.

Be productive when working from home

Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. While the office space is free and the commute short, there’s more distractions, less “water-cooler” interaction and fragmented working hours. Follow the Institute of Careers’ simple tips to ensure your working day is a successful one.

Dress the part:

Even though your office shares the same address as your bedroom, it doesn’t give you free reign to greet your laptop in your Peter Alexanders. Stick to your usual workday routine – that means shower, eat breakfast and put on your work clothes. Wearing work clothes at the home office puts you in a mind-frame to work, not watch Sunrise.

Create a task list:

Write a list of all the actions you need to do that day, and objectives you’d like to achieve, and allocate the amount of time needed to undertake each task in one-hour blocks. Stay focussed and stick to the schedule, otherwise you could find yourself procrastinating and slacking off from the task at hand.

Set boundaries:

Don’t do your laundry during the workday and avoid personal calls until after work. If you wouldn’t do these kinds of things in an external office, don’t do it while working at home.

Take a proper lunch break:

Allocate yourself one hour for lunch. Make yourself a healthy meal and then go for a walk or short run to clear your head, thereby avoiding the afternoon slump. The advantage of working from home is that you can be super healthy by preparing your own lunch every day and making exercise fit around your schedule.

Say no to midday movies:

Tempting as it might be, don’t switch on the TV – Dr Phil's background chatter will only distract you from work. Surround your workspace with work-related things instead of items that might remind you of all the personal chores that need to be done.

How to cure a case of Mondayitis

A productive, happy and effective day is usually achieved by getting up on the right side of the bed in the morning. But after a carefree weekend, the thought of leaving the warm and cosy confines of your bed at the start of the working week is downright depressing.

Here’s what to do if you’re battling the Monday blues:

Tidy up loose ends on a Friday

If you finish as many tasks as possible before the weekend, you will feel much better going into Monday morning with a fresh start.

Clean your workspace

Don’t start the working week with remnants of last week’s work. Clear away your coffee cups and file your paperwork in appropriate folders so you’re not scrambling to find important documents on a Monday morning.

Create a to-do-list

On Friday afternoon, create a list of tasks to accomplish during the week ahead. By being organised, you will feel better on Monday if you know exactly what you’re up for.

Sundays are for relaxing, not partying

Schedule your social life on Friday nights and Saturdays. Save Sunday for relaxing and winding down after the weekend. Sundays are also a good time for meal prep – make your lunches for the week and prepare as much food as you can to make weekday dinners a breeze. 

Be an early-bird

If you sleep in on a Monday, you will only be putting extra pressure on yourself. Rise early, exercise, eat a good breakfast and catch up on the news. Even listening to your favourite tunes on the way to work can lift your mood and help you snap back into the routine of the coming week.

Avoid big jobs on a Monday

Spread major jobs throughout the week. This strategy will reduce any stress and anxiety about the thought of going back to work on a Monday.

Lead by example

If the boss suffers Mondayitis, chances are even the most enthusiastic of staff will succumb to the blues – they’re contagious! Managers need to set an example. View work as an enjoyable experience and convey this impression to staff.