Five ways you're sabotaging your next promotion

Hoping to move up the ranks at your workplace? You might be ruining your chances at a promotion. 

Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Julie Reece (right) instructs Kim Regan (center) at her cubicle desk while at Z Corporation headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts, in 2010. Being able to learn from others and listen to instructions is essential to being considered for a promotion.

There's no way to know when or if you'll be promoted at work. And as promotions happen to others, you might wonder why your boss never offers you the job. Sure, some employees are more qualified and a better fit for a position, but there's also a chance that you're sabotaging your next promotion without realizing it. Give yourself a better shot at a cushier position by avoiding these five moves that sabotage your chances.

1. You're Constantly at War With Your Boss

Since you and your boss work closely together, it's safe to say that you won't see eye-to-eye on every single issue. Having a minor argument or disagreement with your employer doesn't necessarily signal the end of your career. Most employers are reasonable and forgiving, and able to look past small issues with no hard feelings. On the other hand, if you're always getting into battles with your boss, your attitude and behavior could hold you back.

If there's an employee with the same qualities and skills as you, who is also able to work well with others, your employer may feel that they're a better candidate for the promotion. You have to learn how to pick your battles and realize your employer is not your equal. In other words, slow your roll, feisty, and good things may come.

2. You Have a Negative, Toxic Attitude

Not only can arguing or fighting with your boss sabotage a promotion, but being a negative person can have similar consequences. You might not back talk to your employer, but if you're known as the "office complainer," or if you constantly voice how much you hate your assignments, don't expect any promotions to come your way. Even if you're only speaking out of frustration, too much negative talk can get back to your employer. He might conclude it's safer to promote someone who's happy on the job, since this person will likely stick around longer than you.

3. You're Too Emotional

Every job has good days and bad days, and sometimes you might have to hide in your office and have a good cry. Yeah, we've all been upset or overwhelmed by work at some point, but if you've had more bad days than good days, or if you have a reputation for being fragile or too sensitive, your boss might think you're unable to handle a promotion. This is especially true if the new job is demanding and stressful. He might feel the position is a better fit for someone with a thicker skin. Plus, if you're crying in your office, there's a high probability that you'll come off looking emotionally unstable. Grin and bear it as best you can, then eat your feelings when you get home (not really, but pizza and ice cream always make me feel better). If it's a chronic problem, it may be a new job that you need, not a promotion.

4. You Hide in the Background

When the time comes to promote within, employers look for employees with the best qualities, skills, and drive for the position. Unfortunately, if you're the type of person who likes to hide in the background, your boss might not recognize your desire to move up or see you as a go-getter. As a result, your name doesn't pop into mind when it's time to promote someone.

If your future plans involve moving up the career ladder, you have to go the extra mile and take the initiative. This is how you get noticed by employers, especially when working for a large company. You might not advance if you do just enough to get by.

Even if you're an introvert or a low-key person, you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone. For example, you can volunteer for projects, or accept assignments that give you the opportunity to use your leadership skills and show your boss what you're capable of. The rest of the office might think you're a suck-up, but will you care when you're getting paid the bigger bucks? One, there's nothing wrong with being dedicated and enthusiastic about your job, and two, I didn't think so.

5. You're Not Teachable

It doesn't matter how much you know or how well you do your job, there's always room for growth. Moving up in the company isn't just about having the necessary skills and experience — you also have to be teachable.

If you're a know-it-all who doesn't listen to instructions or suggestions, your employer might feel you're not the right person for a particular position. Additionally, you might miss out on new opportunities if you don't keep your skills up-to-date. Moving up within an organization might require taking a course or a workshop and gaining an understanding of new software and technology. If you're not willing to continue your education, your employer will promote someone who is.

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