9 things high-achievers never reveal about themselves at work

High achievers come from all different walks of life. 

But they share certain habits in common, especially when it comes to what they choose to divulge at work. There are some subjects and areas that they keep off limits from their work colleagues, superiors and career interactions. 

By maintaining this firm divide between personal and professional, they ensure that their achievements continue to increase and that the two lines don’t get blurred in a way that could harmfully impact their success. 

Let’s take a look at what high-achievers never spill at work: 

1) Issues in their personal life

We all have personal issues, from breakups and health scares to insecurity and family drama. 

But the high-achiever doesn’t let work become their therapist’s office. 

Even well-meaning colleagues and friends at work are rarely, if ever, privy to the high-achievers personal issues. 

If and when they do discuss such things with work friends, they do it outside of work hours and only with a few well-trusted insiders. 

They don’t want to air their dirty laundry or become known as a whiner at work. 

2) Dislike of fellow employees

Let’s face it:

Almost nobody has the privilege of working solely with people they like. 

But the high-achiever does their best to develop a functional and cordial working relationship with their colleagues even if they don’t particularly like them. 

If somebody is being a jerk or sabotaging work success, the high achiever does their best to deal with it one-on-one or go discreetly to HR.

They have no desire to focus on who they dislike or admit it at work, and instead seek to put their time and energy on developing work relationships that are worth their time. 

“Positive relationships are a vital aspect of communication within teams. They improve employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction in the workplace, leading to lower costs and improved performance outcomes,” notes psychologist Jeremy Sutton, PhD.

3) Ambitions outside of work

High-achievers don’t talk about their outside ambitions at work

If they are a lawyer at a private practice, for example, but are training online to become a different type of government lawyer, they don’t mention that at work. 

Unless and until they’re actually leaving for the new position and providing notice, they keep such matters under lock and key. 

The reason is twofold:

Such revelations can distract from their productivity and communication at work, distracting them and coworkers with the “big news.”

Secondly, it can come off as disloyal or signal a lack of commitment to their current job which can be a ruinous thing, especially if the hoped for new path doesn’t materialize. 

4) Frustration at subpar feedback

Getting negative feedback or criticism at work is not always easy, even for those with significantly high levels of self-esteem. 

But the high-achiever does not lash out or admit when a critique has upset them:

Instead, they seek to understand practical steps they can take to improve. 

If the criticism is unfair or malicious, they do their best to let success be their best form of revenge, instead of falling into petty rivalry or thinking of ways to “get back” at the person who’s tearing them down. 

As psychologist Michael Wiederman, PhD. observes:

“Ideally, everyone on the team is invested in doing their best, and helping each other develop professionally. So, candid constructive feedback is the norm, and is provided and received comfortably and appreciated.”

5) Outside help or mentoring they’re receiving

respected at work 9 things high-achievers never reveal about themselves at work

High-achievers are very aware of how much they don’t know. 

As such, they often turn to old hands in their business or field and get outside help or mentoring. It could just be an older friend who had an amazing career in a similar profession. 

This is not something they speak about at their job or advertise. They don’t want to engage in the insecure and boastful habit of name dropping. Furthermore, they have no desire to reveal that they have a potential edge on coworkers and other people. 

Their allies and support network is for them to know about, not to brag about at work. 

6) Doubts about their job skills

We all have moments of self-doubt and imposter syndrome

But high-achievers don’t give voice to them, at least definitely not at work. 

They don’t want to feed into a disempowering narrative or create an even trickier situation for their own success. 

If there are areas where they should improve then they do their best to do so. But they don’t focus on them or believe their negative thoughts

They understand that many of their self-doubts are overblown and try to be realistic about their progress at work and focus on what they are achieving and want to achieve next. 

“What you’re going for is disempowering the thoughts by labeling them as thoughts, which are separate from you and separate (in this case) from truth,” advises psychologist and author Dr. Andrea Bonior.

7) Past mistakes or misunderstandings at work

High-achievers don’t bring up mistakes from the past. 

They don’t try to act perfect or put on airs about how great they are at their job, but they do focus on what they’re good at and paint the past in a positive light. 

They have no desire to focus on past mistakes, not only because it writes a script in which they are incompetent or marred, but also because it saps their own confidence. 

They only think about past mistakes in terms of how it can guide better future performance, rather than in terms of regret or being hard on themselves. 

As Bonior encourages:

“Get specific with yourself about what went wrong before, and outline the exact ways you can prevent that. Remind yourself of your strengths as you nudge yourself toward trusting your skills again.”

8) Their salary level and expected promotions

High-achievers don’t talk about what they earn, especially not at a workplace where they work with other colleagues. 

That’s because there is absolutely no upside to doing so in most cases.

Either they earn more and this creates a potentially jealous and resentful environment among colleagues, or they earn less and it creates jealousy and resentment in them. 

High-achievers also don’t talk about promotions they expect to get or that they want at work. They let their results and hard effort speak for itself. 

9) Frustration or inability to cope with change

Change is the one constant in life, and the workplace is no exception. 

In fact, the pace of change is accelerating faster than ever in today’s technologically-advanced environment. 

Admitting that this is a challenge at times seems fair, but it’s not something a high achiever does. They don’t do that because it is adopting a victim mentality and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in many cases. 

They don’t have any interest in becoming known as “that guy who’s super bad at computers,” or “that lady who gets all confused with the new program.”

They do their best to train extra if necessary and stay up to date on changes and new technology that’s changing their workplace. 

Instead of complaining or wishing for the “good old days,” they level up.

As psychologist and author Soren Kaplan, PhD. writes

“Organizations must rapidly change to meet the shifting demands of the 21st century. 

“Disruptions caused by the global pandemic and new demands of modern technology like artificial intelligence highlight the importance of understanding human behavior, motivation, and group dynamics to ensure teams and organizations successfully navigate change.”

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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