How Social Niceties Can Ruin Your Chances Of Getting A Promotion At Work

By Jordanne Wells

June 13, 2017   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

promotion at work

It’s evaluation time at work again!

And you’re thinking and hoping that this will finally be the time where you get a glowing review for all your hard work.

I mean, who doesn’t want to be a rock star at work? Imagine feeling fulfilled and accomplished in your job, being loved by your boss, respected and admired by your peers and paid the salary you are worth.

Well, those things aren’t impossible.

You know that you can crush it at work and prove to be a valuable asset. You just need the chance to show them.

Sure, kicking ass and creating a name at work require commitment and a good attitude. But, more importantly, it’s achieving success on the right projects, having opportunities to show your skills and cultivating harmonious relationships that can facilitate long-term success.

If you’re playing by all the rules and still not getting any promotion at work, then you might be unknowingly sabotaging yourself. You may think that the following common ‘social graces’ can make you look good but, in reality, they don’t.

Here’s why and how.

Not taking a compliment

If someone says “Great work on that last project!” and your response is anything less than “Thanks, it was a lot of work, but the result was well worth it”, then you’re self-deprecating.

We commonly respond with humility. However, what it actually does is devalue the other person’s opinion of what we accomplished.

If we don’t celebrate our successes or we attribute them to pure luck, then how can we expect our bosses to respect and acknowledge our talents and skills?

Obviously, they’ll think that we are just really lucky and not worthy of a raise or to be given more responsibility. Especially since our luck will probably run out soon right? With that logic, can you seriously blame your boss?

Promoting your success doesn’t make you a jerk it. It just makes you honest. Call a spade a spade. You don’t have to peacock and tell everyone in the office how awesome you are.

And if you would praise your coworker for a job well done, why wouldn’t you praise yourself?

Carrying the world on your back

A project deadline gets missed and you, being the martyr, take full responsibility for the delay.

Falling on your sword and taking the blame for the failure, unfortunately, won’t earn you brownie points with the boss. If there is a problem, it’s important to be honest about the situation. State the issues clearly and concisely.

It could be that the project scope was larger than anticipated or the time required for the other teams to complete their milestones was underestimated. Or it could be that the subject matter required a longer learning curve. Whatever the reasons are for the delay, be honest about them.

Sure, all of those boil down to bad estimations, but no one was asking you to bear the full blame. They only wanted to know the reasons so that they can be avoided in the future.

Carrying the world on your back and blaming yourself is counter-productive to solving or avoiding any issue. And this doesn’t mean that you are dodging accountability. You are simply highlighting the facts in a productive way to resolve or prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Needing the opinion of everyone in making a decision

Great employees are able to anticipate their manager’s needs or concerns and can make some quick decisive actions without supervision when the time requires it. If you are unwilling or unable to make decisions without your manager’s or everyone’s input, then you won’t be able to prove you have the chops to be a leader or manage valuable projects.

Sure, getting input is important, especially in making decisions. But, needing to get every single person’s opinion sounds like you don’t trust your own judgment.

No one is saying that you play CEO or spend the company money like your own, but low profile decisions within the parameters of your job is a great place to start. If your gut says yes and the data are backing it up, then you are golden. You can even bring the options to your manager, tell them your chosen solution and have them decide the solution.

Anything is better than simply reporting the problem for your manager to fix.

Constantly apologizing for ourselves

There are a handful of disastrous lines that women employ during conversations. Mika Brzezinski shares a couple of examples in her book “Knowing Your Value: Women, Money And Getting What You’re Worth“.

It includes:

“I’m sorry if my timing is bad.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I know you’re busy, but…”

“I hate to do this, but…”

When we say these things, we minimize ourselves and our worth. These lines technically translate to: “Please give us whatever is left of your attention, because we know we aren’t as important as your real work.”

You don’t have to barge in and demand folks to stop what they are doing to talk to you. Using phrases like ‘Are you available?’ or ‘Is now a good time’ is a perfectly acceptable way to get your boss’ or peer’s attention without devaluing yourself or your message.

If you don’t value yourself, why should anyone else?

Thinking relationship building isn’t a part of your job

social networking

I’ll admit it. I hate social networking.

My husband regularly tells me to change my profile pic, respond to comments made on pictures he tagged me in or asks me if I’ve heard what happened to so and so.
I don’t do those things not because I’m an introvert or antisocial, but because I have a million and one other things I need to finish. I think those are just unproductive ways to spend my limited time.

And if you have been working so hard through your lunch hour, coming in early and staying late to impress the bosses, you know what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, working so hard that we forget to build relationships is a big mistake.

Like it or not, we live in a world where social networking is no longer a can-do, but a must-do, especially if you want to be an influencer or to make it into the inner circle. If people never get a chance to know you, then how can you get a promotion at work?

See Also: Job Seekers: Boost Your Appeal Through Social Media Accounts!

Avoiding ‘picking a side’

office politics

No one loves confrontation, especially when it comes to caustic workplace dramas.

In terms of company decisions, however, trying to not to pick a side and give your opinion won’t do you any favors. Your teammates won’t be able to hear your thoughts on the issue or see how you’ll be able to provide value.

Your opinion on a course of action and your reasons for it can only be expressed by you. That’s where you leave your mark and let folks know that not only can you analyze an issue, but you can recommend a solution as well.

Someone who offers a solution – good or bad- to try and fix a problem is always better than someone who just sits there looking at the problem and doing nothing.

Thinking they couldn’t function before you

We want to prove ourselves- desperately.

But, in our pursuit to show we are the best, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of joining the bandwagon that criticizes the company’s current policies, standards and employees.

You’ll find a lot of people who spend all their time complaining about how the system or process is retarded or how the project management team holds no true function. If you’re caught in such a scene, change the topic or just stop talking to them altogether to maintain your own sanity.

Folks are likely to have been doing the job, succeeding and making money long before you came. So, take it easy on criticisms until you have learned the environment and why the company does something the way they do.

Then, when you voice any recommended changes to your boss and team, you can do it from a place of understanding and knowledge. Remember that change takes time. If they choose not to listen, always continue following commands.

Say the serenity prayer with me:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
Wisdom to know the difference;

And self-control to keep it to myself 🙂

Okay, I added the last part, but you get the idea.

Smiling and nodding

Unfortunately, I’ve unconsciously done this too many times than I can count.

It is a technique we often use to ‘appear’ smart or knowledgeable to our peers and in our attempt to continue the conversation and not point out our deficiencies. Say, for example, someone asks if you are familiar with a process, tool or product. To avoid being embarrassed for not knowing, you smile and nod and make a mental note to google it when you are back at your desk later.

The only problem is, folks can smell the BS from a mile away – like when you mistakenly nodded in agreement when they asked you a question.

If you don’t know what that product or technology is, just say that you aren’t familiar with it or haven’t worked with it before. If you aren’t sure, then say you aren’t sure but you’ll be happy to get clarification.

There is nothing wrong with seeking knowledge and learning from a position of strength.

The fear you have of appearing as the weak link can only come true if you waste time and mess something up that you said you’re skilled at- when you really aren’t.

Everyone wants to make the best decision that will provide an optimal solution. To do that, you have to weigh the pros and cons and look at the problem from every angle. You must be able to anticipate roadblocks.

Take note that overthinking to the point of paralysis can also make us look indecisive.

Have you heard of the jack story?

A man got a flat tire on the side of the road and he saw a house at the top of the hill. He decided to ask the homeowners if they have a jack he can borrow. On his hike up to the house, he thought to himself, what if they don’t have a jack? What if they have a jack and wants to charge him to use it? What if they want to charge $600? He didn’t have that kind of money!

As he made his way up the hill, he continued to get inside his own head. By the time he got to the house, rung the doorbell and someone answered the door, he yelled “Keep your stupid jack!” and stormed back down the hill.

Being able to make educated decisions quickly when stakes are high is a quality of a good leader.

Our instinct to overthink makes us appear as ineffective worriers. They make us look incapable of making tough calls, taking risks and achieving success.

Always remember that done is usually better than perfect, so get started! Besides, most folks can’t tell the difference between 90% and 100%.

Get noticed now

Now that you’ve seen some of the damaging common social niceties, do you see any that you routinely fall for?

Trying to prove your value to folks is hard enough and walking around unknowingly sabotaging yourself just makes it worse. With these ideas, you’ll able to find out how you’re ruining your chances of getting that promotion at work.

So, pick one or two to start with and spend the day changing your habit. You can do this!

Get noticed today for the strong, confident and capable employee that you are!

See Also: How To Get a Promotion Without Working Yourself To The Bone


Jordanne Wells

Jordanne is a revived corporate mommy zombie who is un-apologetically crazy about getting beautiful amazing women fearless and confident in their life and with their money. To get more actionable tips and resources connect with her at

Getting Started with Forex

Other Dating Guide

Individual Reviews