Finally gained respect in the office? Don’t get too comfortable, or you might find yourself making these mistakes.

Building a rapport with your coworkers so you can all nicely coexist requires delicate balance. But some people get a little bit too comfortable in the process of rapport building, and it can be to the detriment of their coworkers’ respect levels.

Here are five little-known factors that can lead to your coworkers losing respect for you:

1. Using the word “try” (it looks weak)

As Brad Hoover writes on CNN Money, this word should not be uttered, as it “simply shows a lack of belief, passion, commitment, and confidence—all the qualities you need to succeed in today’s tight job market.” Instead, he suggests using “words like do, believe, act, tackle, accomplish, or succeed.”

2. Saying “that’s not my job”

In a tight economy, many businesses are frustratingly understaffed. People are taking on the work of former coworkers whose positions have since been eliminated. It can really raise stress levels in a workplace when someone declares “That’s not my job,” since everyone is trying to pitch in and help in all areas of the business.

According to an article on Black Enterprise, “As tempting as this may be, protesting that something isn’t in your job description is a surefire way to lose the support of your boss. In reality, most people end up doing work that doesn’t fall within their job descriptions, and your best bet is to have a can-do attitude.”

3. Being best friends with the boss

Some people look at a coworker who tries to get close to the boss as a “brown noser” or someone who isn’t playing fairly—especially if other coworkers have a hard time getting close to him or her.

They may also grow to feel threatened by your close relationship with the boss and start to lose trust in sharing confidential items, or even the simple frustrations of the day they once shared with you.

Finally, coworkers may lose respect for you for growing close to the boss if they think you’re doing it just to get that great promotion or salary bump. No one should be perceived as having an advantage over everyone else, and people get incredibly frustrated if this becomes the case.

If you’re friends with the boss outside of work, try to keep the close conversations to a minimum in the workplace and allow the boss to treat you and all coworkers equally (as far as the perception of others is concerned).

4. Wearing revealing clothing

Ladies, c’mon! There’s no faster way to lose the respect of coworkers, especially as a woman, than to wear revealing clothing to work. Many women who wear suggestive clothing to work have no idea about the insults being flung behind their backs and the many snide remarks being made as they leave the room. Most coworkers perceive this as highly unprofessional.

5. Being a bully

As Five Surprising People Who Are Hurting Your Career discusses, “a coworker, boss or even a lowly intern—anyone who uses schoolyard tactics to scare people away from an opportunity qualifies as a workplace bully. The bully will start rumors about company layoffs or complain about how it’s impossible to find a job.”

What’s interesting is that these bullies sometimes don’t realize that they’re bullying. If gossip is second nature to them, talking about company layoffs might just seem like a conversation topic a bully feels will earn them attention and make them seem in the know. But be careful about gossiping, and also about throwing your words around, as people do listen. There’s no need to inspire fear in the workplace. It won’t do you any favors to be associated with negative news.

In general, you have to tread carefully in an office environment to avoid losing the respect of your coworkers. While this can be a lot to take in, we all need to guard and manage our workplace reputations carefully—our careers and workplace relationships depend on it.

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from digital marketing strategies to online reputation management for websites like

Brazen Life is a lifestyle and careers blog for ambitious young professionals.


  1. Robin Cannon

    These are good points, except that #1 (which I’ve heard time and time again over the years) is largely crap.

    Look, if I say that I’ll “try” something that’s within my control to achieve then, yes, it’s a bad use of the word. But when correctly used – in the context that “I will make an effort to achieve something that is not fully under my control” – e.g. I will *try* to arrange a meeting today with someone who, hey, might not be available for a meeting today.

    I get that it’s about demonstrating confidence, and people should use “active” words. But the claim that the word ‘try’ “simply shows a lack of belief…” is rubbish if it doesn’t take context into account.

  2. Dougal Murrayfield

    Being friends with the boss, if that’s a negative them I’m assuming you’re happy being a cellar dweller. I want to have a relationship with my boss because I would like to learn more about the overall strategy going on…and yes if that gives me some influence on the strategy or being perceived as someone who gets its then GREAT! Mission accomplished. The issue is the boss playing favorites not the other way around. If you want to remain in cubicle hell…then feel free just don’t complain that you don’t know what is going on.

  3. JC

    “insults being flung behind their backs and the many snide remarks being made as they leave the room. Most coworkers perceive this as highly unprofessional.” And yet the insult flinging & snide remarks about a co-worker isn’t unprofessional?

  4. jrandom421

    Here’s another one: being ignorant and incompetent, and being proud of it

  5. jrandom421

    Dougal, if you’re best friends with the boss, the question of did you earn the promotion or did a buddy do you a favor will always linger. You can have respectful business relationship, but best buddies are always (sometimes unjustifiably) suspect.

  6. d10757a

    I don’t see any mention of office “drama queens”. They are worse than all of the rest put together. They can not seem to do their own work which gets dumped onto their co-workers and when their current “problem” clears up there is always another to take it’s place.

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