Success is due not only to how well you do your job, but how well you treat the humans you do your job with.

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Being good at your job seems like to be all you’d need to ensure job security. However, certain “bad habits” can undo all your excellence. Make sure these five behaviors aren’t hampering your career.

Rudeness. Even small habits like failing to say “please” and “thank you” can poison work relationships. Good manners are more than a social nicety. They are the key to successful relationships, and successful relationships are the key to holding onto any job.

Gossiping. Spreading rumors, dissecting the personal lives of co-workers — these are not only unprofessional but a waste of time. Yes, every company has its gossipers, and it may seem to be harmless, but it can come back to bite you in the behind. And when all is said and done, it’s just an unattractive activity.

Over-promising (and its evil twin, under-delivering). The ability to estimate how long it will take you to do a given task is a vital career — and life — skill. Being the person whose word is his or her bond may not always be easy, but it reaps untold benefits in terms of personal integrity and strong professional relationships.

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Introversion. This is a tricky one. As a card-carrying introvert myself, I often deplore the value our society puts on sociability. Couldn’t we all do with a bit more alone time? But the fact is that most employment involves regular contact with other humans — many of whom are, let’s face it, extroverts! So we introverts will always need to make the extra effort that it takes to get along. Expend your social energy with care, but do expend it. The benefits will come back to you in terms of job security, promotions, and even job satisfaction.

Negativity. Not the same thing as introversion, negativity is a habit of mind that always sees the glass as half empty and that never looks for the silver lining. You may feel you’re just being realistic, and you may be, but please also recognize that persistent, consistent negativity is a bummer, as well as tiring to be around. Instead, focus on the solutions to the problems, rather than just to the problems.

It’s so easy to set yourself apart from the crowd by consistently being polite, circumspect, reliable, friendly and positive. Why not try it?

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at