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How Not to Get a Raise


How Not to Get a Raise: 7 Deadly Salary Sins

By Chantal Fleming, Special to

You do your job and, as far as you’re concerned, you do it well. But if your latest salary bump wasn’t as big as you’d hoped, you might be committing one of the seven deadly salary sins. 

"Your reputation [at work] is based on trust," emphasizes career coach Agnes Mura, president of Agnes Mura, Inc. "And trust is based on competence, character, and consistency. So etiquette goes way beyond and much more deeply than the surface." Not only can bad etiquette cost you your reputation, it can cost you jobs and promotions, Mura notes. asked Mura to share the top workplace sins that can put you on the etiquette hit list.

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Deadly Sin 1: Gossiping.
Got a hot piece of office gossip? You may want to keep it to yourself. Relationships are delicate, and sometimes a wrong can never be made right. "Speak well of staff including your own colleagues," Mura emphasizes. Always look for the positive and try to be supportive of co-workers.

Deadly Sin 2: Obnoxious or profane comments.
Playing a loose cannon and using profanity with co-workers is a quick way to lose friends, a salary increase, or even your job. Refrain from tasteless jokes, emails, or comments at work or work-related events. And if it has anything at all to do with sex – don’t say it. Communication should always be emotionally neutral and well thought out, Mura says.

Deadly Sin 3: Being disruptive.
No one wants to know your personal business or be blasted by sound that’s not relevant to their work. Use a headset instead of speaker phone, earphones for music and turn personal cell phones off or on silent. Noise from calls on speakerphone, vibrating or ringing cell phones, or being chatty can label you as annoying and disruptive. And no one wants that on their annual review.

Deadly Sin 4: Heavy drinking.
While it’s tempting to party like a rock star, especially when it’s on the company’s tab, a professional environment is never the place to do it. The price you pay is often loss of respect. "There is no down time when you are with work colleagues," Mura explains. "I don’t care if you are going on a field trip; I don’t care if you are going dancing or if it’s a party — you are always in a glass house."

Deadly Sin 5: Sending angry emails.
Email is a blessing and a curse. Keep it from cursing you down the line by excluding personal, offensive, or hostile language. "If you have anything that has an emotional coloring to discuss, if it’s difficult, delicate, if you’ve got a bit of attitude working about it, pick up the phone or go see people and don’t put everything in writing, which you might regret," Mura says.

Deadly Sin 6: Dressing like a slob.
Want your boss’s job? Appearance implies a ton about your professionalism and capability; take cues from how someone senior to you dresses if you want to be considered for their level of responsibility.  Not sure what’s appropriate? Wear clothes that are clean, reflect your work culture, and fit properly. "It’s very important for people to make sure that their clothes fit. If it’s too small, throw it out," says Mura. The same mantra applies if clothes are too long, too big, too revealing, falling apart, or just plain out of style. That goes for hair, nails, and makeup, too. Additionally, dress one step above your job level, Mura adds.

Deadly Sin 7: Bringing germs to work.
Misery loves company, but your colleagues will hate you for it when it comes to illness. If you are sick, stay home. Separately, people do notice whether you wash your hands in the bathroom and keep secret tallies among the group (sorry, the sprinkle of water with no soap doesn’t count). It’s a gross faux pas in an office environment with its many shared surfaces, and handshaking and food opportunities.

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