Psychologist Explains: This Habit at Work Makes You Look Incompetent

Written by Kathrine Frich

Jun.28 - 2024 8:05 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
It is shaping how individuals are perceived in the workplace.

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In today's professional world, a subtle yet significant behavior known as "busy bragging" is increasingly shaping how individuals are perceived in the workplace.

According to Sosoir it goes beyond the obvious irritants like lingering at the coffee machine or unnecessarily CCing everyone on emails — it's a pervasive habit that often goes unnoticed but can significantly affect workplace relationships and productivity.

Impacts Long-term collaboration

"Busy bragging" refers to the tendency to incessantly complain about being overwhelmed with work. Despite seeming like a natural response to heavy workloads, this behavior can backfire.

Research published in Personnel Psychology by Jessica Rodell from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia highlights its impact.

Participants in her study were presented with scenarios where a colleague returned from a meeting; those who overly complained about stress were found to be less sympathetic and received less support from peers compared to those who acknowledged challenges without dwelling on them.

Jessica Rodell explains that openly discussing stress diminishes likability and can hinder relationships in the workplace.

Moreover, colleagues may perceive chronic complainers as less capable or reliable, impacting long-term collaboration and support during challenging times.

Unpacking the "Busy Bragging" Phenomenon

Termed "busy bragging", this behavior extends beyond work settings into social and familial spheres. In these contexts, busyness often serves as a status symbol, driven by societal pressures to equate productivity with value.

The notion that constant busyness signifies competence persists, leading individuals to boast about their overwhelming schedules as a badge of honor.

However, scientific research challenges this perception.

Studies by Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson suggest that sustained, uninterrupted work does not necessarily correlate with higher productivity.

Ericsson's work with musicians revealed that optimal performance often occurs in sessions lasting no more than 90 minutes, interspersed with breaks.

This finding underscores the importance of balance and well-being in maintaining effectiveness and creativity across various professions.

Rethinking Work Culture for Sustainable Success

As workplaces evolve, there is a growing recognition of the need to prioritize well-being and efficiency over the mere quantity of tasks completed.

Creating environments that support work-life balance and encourage open communication about workload challenges can foster more sustainable success and healthier workplace dynamics.

By shifting the focus from busy bragging to fostering a culture of collaboration, empathy, and realistic productivity expectations, organizations can promote a more positive and productive work environment for all employees.