If you’ve been working in or covering the IT profession for longer than you’d care to admit or remember, as I certainly have, you may well be familiar with the classic book, “The Tao of Programming,” a very entertaining spoof on the profession by business writer Geoffrey James. I loved that book, and I recently came across another book, written by James a couple of years ago, that I enjoyed just as much.
The (relatively) new book is “Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know,” which Silicon Valley technology evangelist Guy Kawasaki called “the most timely book of 2014.” I’m obviously late to the game in having read it, but its wisdom is timeless.
If you’re late to the game in making your New Year’s resolutions, let me share some advice, adapted from the book, that all of us would do well to take to heart. Here are nine really annoying workplace habits to avoid in 2016:
Telling half-truths. Honesty is the best policy. However, if you're afraid to speak the truth, it's cowardice to tell a half-truth that's intended to mislead but leaves you "plausible deniability." Either tell the whole truth or tell a real lie—and accept the consequences if you're found out.
Finger-pointing. Few human behaviors are more pointless than fixing blame. In business, it's usually irrelevant who's at fault when something goes wrong. What's important is how to avoid making the same mistakes again.
Bucking accountability. Finger-pointing is common in business because some people aren't willing to admit their mistakes. If you're going to take credit for your accomplishments, you must also take credit for your failures. The two go hand in hand.
Hating on successful people. When you direct your hate at success, you're telling yourself that being successful means being hated. Since nobody in their right mind wants to be hated, you'll subconsciously sabotage yourself so that people will continue to like you.
Schadenfreude. Taking a secret pleasure in the failures of others makes your own success less likely. You end up gloating over what other people did wrong, rather than doing whatever it takes to make yourself more successful.
Workplace gossip. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." When you spread gossip, you're identifying yourself as small-minded and also showing that you can't be trusted to keep secrets.
Creating your own stress. While work may be stressful, you make it worse when you fail to disconnect on a regular basis. Rather than answer yet another email, take a walk, read a book, or listen to some music. Turn off your phone when you go to bed; whatever it is, it can wait.
Giving or accepting flattery. An honest compliment is always welcome, but flattery truly gets you nowhere. When you flatter, everyone knows that you're brown-nosing. Similarly, when you accept flattery, you're marking yourself as gullible and self-absorbed.
A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.