10 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Promoted

You come into work 15 minutes early every day. You do everything that’s asked of you (with a smile, no less), and you’re a team player. So why haven’t you gotten that promotion? It might be because you’re female. No, the male higher-ups aren’t necessarily sexist. It turns out that women are more prone than male colleagues to engage in career-sabotaging workplace behaviors. Check out these 10 little habits that may be keeping you down on the corporate ladder.

1. You take care of others first.
Your colleague leans over your cubicle wall and says, “I can’t format this table. Can you look?” It might take only a few minutes, but consider how much you help coworkers each week—you’re probably losing valuable time for your own tasks. Instead tell needy colleagues, “I’d love to help you, but I can’t do it during these times.” Then, schedule time to assist your coworker during a break.

2. You never say no to new projects, even when you’re overloaded.
If your plate’s already full, decline the assignment—but let your boss know when you’ll be available to take on another project. Giving every task your all will pay greater dividends than a portfolio of numerous, but average, projects.

3. You couch opinions as questions.
Deep down, most women just want to be liked. So to avoid confrontation, you may turn statements into questions. The problem with that: “When you ask a question, it softens the message”. State your opinion and then follow up with a question like, “What do you think?”

4. You apologize too often.
Have a friend point out every time you say you’re sorry. The number will astound you. Not only does apologizing make you look at fault when you’re not but it also damages your self-esteem. Own up to mistakes that you easily could’ve prevented, but don’t apologize for things that couldn’t have been predicted.

5. You need constant affirmation.
While seeking feedback from your superiors is important, don’t expect praise for every assignment. Asking too often increases your boss’s workload, which makes you seem like less of an asset and more of a liability. Rest assured, silence from your manager doesn’t mean you messed up or that he or she doesn’t recognize the late nights you’ve logged to finish a project. If it’s the first time you’ve tackled that type of assignment, feel free to find out how you did, but do so in a productive way. “Ask specific questions about your work,” says Kramer. “Don’t just ask if he or she liked it.”

6. Your self-evaluation is poorly crafted.
If you’re discussing work you did as part of a group, specifically state your role in the final product. When it comes to raises and promotions, you’re evaluated as an individual, not a team.

7. You share too much personal information.
Decorate your desk with a framed picture of your family, but avoid sharing in-depth personal stories with your colleagues.

8. You gossip.
Engaging in office gossip can make you seem untrustworthy to both colleagues and superiors. And that could rule you out for assignments which require discretion.

9. You speak at a higher-than-normal pitch.
It makes you sound younger and affects your body language too. “When I make my voice go up, my eyes squint, my head tilts and I get a coy smile on my face, Sadly, those changes can make others you view you as “too nice”—and make them wonder if you can handle a tough situation.

10. You sit too casually.
Your superiors may worry you’re too laid-back to participate in serious settings, like a meeting with a stodgy prospective client. So put your feet on the floor and sit up straight at work—or at least when others can see you.

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