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How You're Ruining Your Reputation at Work

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It can take years to establish a track record as a trustworthy, dependable employee, and it takes only a few minutes to destroy your reputation at the office. Thankfully, you don't have to let a few mistakes erase the credibility you've worked so hard to establish. Experts weigh in on the top six most common ways people ruin their reputation at work.

1. Lying

Big lies aren't the only ones that have the potential to destroy your reputation, says Eric Schiffer, chairman of ReputationManagementConsultants.com. Even little white lies -- or lies you get caught up in by saying one thing to one person and a different thing to someone else -- chip away at how others perceive your character.

"You don't want to get known as a chameleon," Schiffer says. "Don't tell one thing to one co-worker and then an entirely different thing to your boss. Word gets around faster than you might think that you're not being aboveboard."

If your managers and colleagues learn you can't be trusted -- or that there is usually more to the story than what you're telling them -- pretty soon you just won't be included as part of the conversation.

"Credibility is king within the corporate world. It's your platform for power and success, and the moment you give that up, either directly or indirectly, you're drowning," he says.

2. Promising something you don't deliver

If you say you're going to do something, do it, Schiffer says. When you promise something you don't deliver, your co-workers and managers lose faith in your word.

"You lose the respect of everyone who was counting on you to deliver," he says. "And that's the best-case scenario. In some situations, people have made serious commitments based on what you promised to deliver. Not only are going to disappoint co-workers, you may be impacting your livelihood."

It all comes back to credibility. People need to be able to take your word seriously, and when they can't, your reputation is shot, Schiffer says.

3. Failing to treat everyone with respect

Even if you consider yourself to be a good co-worker, if you don't treat others with respect you're going to gain a reputation as someone who's grouchy or self-important, Schiffer says.

"People burn bridges every day just by being snippy, terse or brutally short," he says. "Remember that business isn't just about numbers. It's mostly about people, and you've got to treat everyone with respect."

Even though this may sound like a lesson you learned in elementary school, Schiffer says it's amazing how many people forget the basics of polite interaction when the stresses of a 9-to-5 job are present.