Revealed: Five personality traits that are holding you back at work

Quit saying sorry and don’t be resistant to change: Careers experts reveal the five personality traits that are holding you back at work

  • Being an all-rounder is considered the most desired attribute on an employee
  • Having some personality traits can set you apart and put you at a disadvantage
  • Those considered undesirable include bullying, over-apologising and negativity

Your behaviour at work can make a difference as to whether you move up the ranks or find yourself constantly being overlooked for that much-hoped-for promotion.

And according to careers experts at SEEK, there are five characteristics that could be holding you back big time.

From constantly saying sorry to being totally resistant to change, here FEMAIL looks at how each trait impacts on your colleagues and boss and what small tweaks you can make to help you curb these. 

The aim at work is to behave as professionally as possibly because in the long run this can affect how your perceived by management and those around you (stock image)

1. A pessimistic attitude

Those who have a pessimistic outlook on life tend to be people who see problems rather than solutions.

‘Pessimists often don’t succeed at work because they can’t see how to fulfill goals. They spent their time picturing how things could go wrong, instead of focussing on how to make them work,’ experts at Seek said.

If you recognise yourself as someone who operates from this mindset, then take a moment to stop and think before you react.

Rather than highlight problems, suggest ideas for how something could potentially work. 

Even if your idea doesn’t pan out, this type of attitude suggests more of a ‘can do’ personality.

2. Bad tempered and quick to react

No matter what is happening at work, losing your temper won’t make the situation any better.

In fact, doing so can make things a whole lot worse, especially as managers and colleagues may view you as a person who is unable to control themselves.

If you recognise yourself as this sort of person, don’t despair as simple techniques such as taking deep breaths, counting to 10 or removing yourself from the situation can make a difference to how you react.

Being able to get on with others in the workplace is as important as being able to do your job  well (stock image)

3. The workplace bully

While a bully can be seen as aggressively assertive – a quality which may propel them to the top – they tend to instill fear in those around them and make poor leaders.

What are some more common workplace bullying behaviours? 

* Abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments 

* Aggressive and intimidating conduct 

* Belittling or humiliating comments 

* Practical jokes or initiation 

* Unjustified criticism or complaints 

* Deliberately excluding someone from work-related activities 


‘The destructive behaviour of a bully also holds businesses back from success as they alienate people instead of bringing them together,’ expert said.

If you feel you are being bullied in the workplace, this can impact your confidence and self-esteem.

Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

If you recognise yourself as a person who may have bullied others, then seek support from a person whom you trust (either within an organisation or externally), understand the impact and ultimately apologise to those who you have hurt.

4. The apologist

The apologiser is the person who always prefixes anything they say with ‘I’m sorry’ – even if they haven’t done anything wrong.

Those who apologise constantly can be viewed negatively in the workplace, as saying sorry can suggest incompetence or a lack of confidence.

A way to overcome this type of behaviour is to become more mindful of when you’re about to say ‘I’m sorry’ – and to ask if there is something you are genuinely sorry for.

If not, then take a deep breath, and simply drop sorry from your sentence.

5. The change resistor

These days, there is no point in holding onto ideas that because something has always been done one way, then that’s the only way.

Being prepared to evolve as industries continue to shift and change can mark you out as a person who is able to see opportunities – rather than someone who refuses to move with the times.

Simple ways that can help you embrace change are up-skilling where possible or attending workplace conferences.

‘Ultimately if you can disrupt the negative habits and create new ones you’re going to enjoy your working day more and increase your chances of success,’ experts said.

What are a career coach’s top tips for getting ahead at work?

Australian career development expert Sue Ellson (pictured) reveals her top tips for getting ahead at work

1. Finding time to really focus: Time blocking is a useful way to ensure you focused properly on the task at hand. 

2. Be task driven but take time to reflect: Complete tasks in a timely manner, but take a moment to reflect before moving onto the next piece of work and where possible engage with colleagues 

3. Don’t say yes when you mean no:  Although saying no to your boss outright isn’t a recommended strategy, consider instigating a conversation where you explain your workload and ask how best to handle conflicting deadlines.

4. Remember, manners go a long way: The workplace expert said it’s been proven over time people who are pleasant and polite are perceived more positively.

Source: Sue Ellson, Australian career development expert


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