At some point in our careers, we've all had to deal with people who act like jerks at the office. But what if the office jerk is actually you?

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At some point in our careers, we’ve all had to deal with people who act like jerks at the office. But what if the office jerk is actually you?

I had a client who was having difficulty moving upward in his career. After analyzing the situation, I realized that he was the office jerk — and his behavior was holding him back from promotions.

Could your office behavior be stalling your career? Find out by answering these 10 yes/no questions:

• Do you gossip about your co-workers?

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• Do you eat smelly food at your desk, even when others have politely asked you to eat elsewhere?

• Do you use your co-workers’ ideas and claim them as your own?

• Do you wear strong cologne/perfume at work, even though you’ve been warned that it irritates others?

• Do you have a tendency to monopolize discussions during meetings?

• Do you interrupt others when they’re speaking?

• Do you have loud telephone discussions or conversations in a cubicle environment?

• Are you a “professional meeting attender”? (Translation: Do you spend more time in meetings than doing productive work?)

• Do you spend more time walking around the office chatting with people than you spend doing productive work?

• Does your behavior turn passive-aggressive or even outwardly angry when you don’t get your way?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, your colleagues (and management) might be labeling you an office jerk. Worse yet, your behavior may be holding you back from achieving your career aspirations.

Changing your behavior is about becoming more self-aware. “Take an honest look at yourself and your behavior,” recommends Seattleite Kathleen M. Sturgess, MA, NCC, professor of psychology at the University of Phoenix. “If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll likely remember gossiping about Sally in the break room, rolling your eyes at John in meetings or making negative comments to others about the results of Martin’s project.”

If you’ve looked in the mirror and identified behavior others could classify as being an office jerk, there are options for help. “It may be as simple as giving yourself a cue when you notice you’re behaving badly,” says Sturgess. “If you’re not good at self-monitoring, seek assistance. The safest route would be through human resources. It all boils down to social skills and learning what is — and isn’t — appropriate in the workplace.”

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at