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April 30, 2000

7 Workplace Blunders And How To Avoid Them

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Putting in the hours and still not getting that promotion? Here's why.

After interviewing dozens of women in their twenties and thirties about how they are navigating the shoals of the workplace for my book, "New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches," two thoughts came to mind. One, "We've come a long way, baby," - young women are dedicating more time and energy to their careers than ever before and they are taking on management positions in unprecedented numbers. And two, "We've still got a long way to go." Here are seven workplace snares that keep women from succeeding.

1. Taking things too personally A thick skin is the ultimate office survival tool. Taking the daily gruffness of an office atmosphere personally is, frankly, a waste of time. Perhaps your boss is being terse with you because she can't kick her nicotine addiction. Maybe she is fighting with her boyfriend or husband. Or, quite possible, she's just having one of those days. Whatever the reason, taking workplace hostility personally is an unnecessary distraction that will surely stymie your climb up the ladder.

2. Not asking enough questions - Judy Woodruff, a senior correspondent for NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, put it like this: "College didn't teach me how to be a reporter, so I asked a ton of questions and learned that way." In addition, ambiguity is often the source of many office issues. Therefore, ask questions, clarify expectations, and don't be afraid to clarify your clarified expectations. Your boss would rather answer a question than correct a mistake.

3. Shrinking back instead of speaking up - The truism goes: "No one is going to speak up for you." Whether it's advocating for a cushier assignment, a better evaluation on your project, or letting your boss know about the accolades you received on that client presentation - you must speak up. So, go on, and forward that glowing e-mail you got from your client straight to your boss.

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