The Hidden Dangers of Self-Sabotage in the Workplace: Common Behaviors and How to Handle Them

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Amy Bracht

Coach | Change Agent | Dream Manager

‍As a coach of high-performing tech professionals, you might be surprised that I’ve seen firsthand the negative impacts of self-sabotage behaviors in the workplace.

Self-sabotage is a phenomenon that can occur in any professional setting, and it can have a lasting impact on your career. 

In this article, we’ll explore what self-sabotage is, the dangers of engaging in self-sabotage behaviors, its root causes, and key behaviors to watch out for.

We’ll also discuss how to identify if you are self-sabotaging yourself at work and provide strategies to overcome these behaviors.

Defining Self-Sabotage in the Workplace

Self-sabotage is the act of intentionally or unintentionally undermining your own efforts to achieve success.

In the workplace, it can manifest in a variety of ways, such as procrastination, perfectionism, and negative self-talk.

It can also take the form of self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse or engaging in toxic relationships with colleagues or superiors.

Self-Sabotage in the workplace

Examples of Self-Sabotage Behaviors

Self-sabotage in the workplace can take many forms, but generally refers to behaviors that undermine a person’s ability to succeed or advance in their career. Here are a few examples of how people self-sabotage in the workplace:


Procrastination is a common form of self-sabotage that can lead to missed deadlines, incomplete work, and lower quality output. When people procrastinate, they often create unnecessary stress for themselves and may miss opportunities for advancement.


While striving for excellence can be beneficial, perfectionism can be self-sabotaging. When people are overly focused on perfection, they may become paralyzed by indecision or avoid taking risks that could lead to growth and development.

Negative self-talk:

Negative self-talk can lead to self-doubt and low self-esteem, which can make it difficult to achieve success in the workplace. When people engage in negative self-talk, they may discount their accomplishments, focus on their weaknesses, and struggle to assert themselves in the workplace.

Lack of assertiveness:

Assertiveness is an important skill in the workplace, but some people may struggle to assert themselves due to fear of conflict or rejection. When people fail to assert themselves, they may miss opportunities for advancement, fail to negotiate for what they want, and allow others to take credit for their work.

Avoiding feedback:

Feedback is essential for growth and development, but some people may avoid feedback due to fear of criticism or rejection. When people avoid feedback, they may miss opportunities to learn and improve, and may continue to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors without even realizing it.

Overall, self-sabotage in the workplace can be detrimental to your career and overall well-being. Identifying and addressing self-sabotaging behaviors can be a crucial step towards achieving success and fulfillment in the workplace.

The Negative Impact of Self-Sabotage on Your Career

Self-sabotage can have a devastating impact on your career.

It can lead to missed opportunities, stalled career growth, and even job loss.

When you engage in self-sabotage behaviors, you’re essentially working against yourself, and this can prevent you from achieving your goals and realizing your full potential.

Understanding the Root Causes of Self-Sabotage

To overcome self-sabotage behaviors, it’s essential to understand the root causes of these behaviors.

Self-sabotage is often a result of underlying fears, limiting beliefs, and negative thought patterns. These can stem from childhood experiences, past traumas, or cultural conditioning.

Understanding the root causes of your self-sabotage behaviors can help you develop strategies to overcome them.

How to Identify if You Are Self-Sabotaging Yourself at Work

To identify if you are engaging in self-sabotage behaviors, start by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Are you avoiding tasks or procrastinating?

Are you obsessing over details and struggling to delegate tasks?

Are you doubting your abilities or feeling like an imposter?

Have you received feedback that you are taking too long to make decisions, or that you are not performing like you used to?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be engaging in self-sabotage behaviors.

Are you self-sabotaging at work?

Strategies to Overcome Self-Sabotage Behaviors

To overcome self-sabotage behaviors, try the following strategies:

1. Practice self-awareness:

Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and actions and identify when you are engaging in self-sabotage behaviors.

2. Challenge limiting beliefs:

Identify the limiting beliefs that are driving your self-sabotage behaviors and challenge them with evidence that contradicts them.

3. Set realistic goals:

Set achievable goals that align with your values and priorities and focus on progress rather than perfection.

4. Practice self-compassion:

Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you would offer to a friend.

Recognize these behaviors and want to work on them now? 

I’ve worked with many clients to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors using proven techniques for rewiring the brain. 

After the first session, clients can use these skills to intercept negative behaviors in the moment. 

It’s extremely powerful, and it’s fast, efficient and simple. 

Check out my Raise Your Level program to find out more. 

Conclusion: The Importance of Self-Awareness in Your Career Growth

Self-sabotage is a common phenomenon in the workplace that can have a lasting impact on your career.

By understanding the root causes of self-sabotage behaviors and identifying the three key behaviors to watch out for, you can develop strategies to overcome these behaviors and achieve your goals.

Remember, self-awareness is key to identifying and overcoming self-sabotage behaviors, so make it a priority in your career growth journey.


If you found this article helpful, please share it with your colleagues and friends. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more career growth tips and insights. 

Want to know more about how I coach my clients through their sabotaging behaviors? 

Book a free discovery call with me today. 

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As a career coach, clients often ask me about how to align their purpose with their career.

If you’re in need of this kind of support, please reach out to me for a complimentary consultation to explore working together.