The commonplace behaviour that is causing you to sabotage your career

One of the most common career-limiting moves that people make is sending out emails when they are upset. We invest a great deal of our energy and time into our work, so personality clashes or miscommunications can sometimes become heated.

In those situations, the best thing that you can do is to step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that it is just work. It isn’t really personal. Getting emotional or into a conflict will only make things worse. Of course, that is in theory. In reality, however, sometimes it feels really good to lash out and write a strongly worded email back to whoever you are interacting with explaining why you are right and just what you think of their ideas.

That is why impulse control and emotional intelligence are such valuable career traits. They help us to regulate these irrational activities. Well, there is an innocent behaviour that most of us often engage in that can be reducing our EI and self control and causing us to sabotage our own careers. That behaviour is staying up too late on a work night.

A new study out of the West Texas A&M University has found that getting a poor night’s sleep can dramatically increase your odds of getting into a conflict online with a coworker, or ‘cyber incivility,’ as the study labels it.

The researchers found that, after getting a shorter night’s sleep, employees experienced self regulatory fatigue and were far more likely to have higher levels of cyber incivility at work, evidenced by derogatory or demeaning remarks through email or instant messages and ignoring meeting requests.

The lead author of the research, Trevor Watkins explains, “The study found that, after a shorter night of sleep, employees had more self regulatory fatigue and therefore engaged in higher levels of cyber incivility at work, especially if they scored low in agreeableness.”

To reach these findings, participants took part in a two-week daily diary study in which they completed daily surveys in the mornings and at the end of the workday. Researchers measured sleep and work behaviors throughout the daily work lives of the subjects.

So, that is something to be aware of. If you have binge-watched your favourite show way past bed time, couldn’t stop reading that page-turner novel, or stayed out too late at a social function on a week night, be aware that your defenses are down. When you are over-tired, you are far more likely to give in to impulse control and say something inappropriate to a coworker, or get into a conflict that you could normally advice.

If you really feel the need to fire off that angry email retort, write it in Word and save it for later. After you’ve some time has passed – or better yet, the next day when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, read it over again before deciding if it is really worth sending after all. You’ll likely find that it’s not.

This study is published in the National Library of Medicine.

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