12 Most Annoying Workplace Habits – Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

12 Most Annoying Workplace Habits – Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Why can’t we all just get along – particularly in the workplace?

Well, because we’re human, and humans are, mostly, annoying. Smiles. Like the guy who sits in next cube and – you know – fiddles with his nose a bit too much. C’mon, no one has a cold 365 days a year, and no one’s allergies are that bad. But I digress from the mostly annoying to the overwhelmingly gross. Back to annoying.

We’ve all had workmates who are annoying, so I took a quick poll to come up with the 12 most annoying workplace habits. It got a bit graphic (see above), so this list has been edited a bit, lest we offend anyone. Such is the risk of cataloging truly annoying behavior. Worse case scenario – think about resigning. We have your back.

1. Loud talking

Maybe it’s the boss bellowing on the interoffice intercom. Maybe it’s the stage-whispered cell phone conversations with a recruiter. Maybe it’s the clown who stands outside your office and talks about his cats. For a long time. People who haven’t figured out what ‘inside voice’ means need to go back to kindergarten. Be kind and keep your voice down when you’re in the office. And trust me – no one really wants to listen in on your sotto-voce conversations. They’re too worried about their own lives.

2. Reheating last night’s salmon in the microwave

Smelly food is tough enough to tolerate in a shared space, but leftovers, especially when heated to 300 degrees C in the malfunctioning microwave, are incredibly annoying. Have a heart – save the stinky food for the cat in #1.

3. Whispering

There’s not much behavior that’s as subversive and damaging as whispering. Especially if it’s the boss talking to his or her pet employee. Act like an adult. If you have something to say, speak up (in an inside voice, of course.) Otherwise, hold that thought – or send an email.

4. Bare feet

I know I swore off hygiene issues, but bare feet are at times annoying (unless surfing). You’re at work, not in the family room. Put on your shoes. Preferably with socks, Preferably not white.

5. Saying ‘excuse me?’ in response to every comment or question

Some people have so much noise in their heads, or are so busy following along to the songbook of their own lives, that they incessantly say ‘excuse me?’ in response to the simplest comment or request. No, you are not excused. Pay attention. There will be no repetition of instructions.

6. Interrupting

This should really be in the number one slot. Interrupting is annoying on every level. It’s bad manners. What you have to say is not more important than what the other person has to say. It may be a struggle, you may have to write a list while others are speaking, but don’t interrupt – unless the office is on fire.

7. Complaining

Second only to interruption in the annals of annoying workplace behavior. Some people love to complain. Perhaps it makes them feel in control. Perhaps they’re just that dissatisfied. Maybe they think they know best. It doesn’t matter, really – if you need to complain incessantly, it’s time to find a new job. No Debbie Downers allowed.

8. Correcting people – no one likes a know-it-all

No one likes to be corrected, especially in front of the boss. If someone makes a mistake, find a subtle way to alert them. If you find yourself correcting people a lot, reconsider your behavior – you may be feeling sensitive or vulnerable. Or maybe you’re just an annoying soul. Don’t be that person.

9. Micromanaging

This one’s a strong contender for the number one slot. If you’re a manager of people or projects, don’t do this. Let your people learn, which means letting them figure stuff out, test assumptions, make mistakes and correct. If you’re so worried that you find yourself hounding people, take the task on yourself.

10. Chewing with your mouth open

Many workplaces think communal lunches build team spirit, but if you’re a mouth breather or loud chewer, reconsider attending until you get your manners under control.

11. Taking cell phone calls in meetings

Another strong contender for most annoying workplace behavior. You and your cell phone are not that important. Rent a clue and leave the phone on your desk. With the ringer off please.

12. Intruding on personal space

We know you need something. Really we do. But please don’t lurk. Send an email, call, leave a note. Just don’t intrude on my personal space. We all need a little space of our own to be happy, or at least productive, employees. Don’t intrude.

What behavior annoys you most in the workplace? You are safe here, really. Let’s have some fun.

Featured image courtesy of The Consumerist licensed via creative commons.

Meghan M. Biro

http://www.meghanmbiro.com/

Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized leader in talent strategy and a pioneer in building the business case for brand humanization. Founder of TalentCulture and a serial entrepreneur, Meghan creates successful ventures by navigating the complexities of career and workplace branding. In her practice as a social recruiter and strategist, Meghan has placed hundreds of individuals with clients ranging from Fortune 500s to the most innovative software start-up companies in the world, including Google, Microsoft and emerging companies in the social technology and media marketplace. Meghan is an accomplished consultant who has helped hundreds of individuals in all levels in the organization (V,C level executives, mid-career, mid-level managers, software architects and recent college graduates) and across generations (Gen Y to baby boomers), develop effective career strategies that propel them to achieve personal and professional success. Meghan is a speaker, practitioner, author, blogger and mentor who is passionate about the subjects of leadership, recruiting, workplace culture, social community, branding, and social media in HR. She is Founder and co-host of two Twitter Chats: "#TChat, The World of Work", a long-standing weekly chat and radio show and #HRTechChat, both communities dedicated to addressing the business needs of the rapidly evolving people-technology landscape. Meghan is an avid social community builder who is inspired by connecting the people and talent dots. Meghan is a regular columnist at Forbes and Glassdoor and her ideas are often quoted, featured on top publications such as CBS Moneywatch, Monster, Dice and various other HR, Social Media and Leadership hubs of your choice.

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110 comments
SabinaGiustino
SabinaGiustino

Definitely, intruding into personal matters. You do not have that one, but it's my nightmare at the moment. Any advice on how to stop that? I cannot be direct because the person would certainly take offence, as she does not realize it is wrong. She's a middle-aged, lonely lady from Paris. She thinks she knows it all...or rather hopes so. She constantly makes comments on the way I look, I'm dressed, gives unrequested advice about life,wonders if "everythning ok with you? Absolutely perfect, yes?" , with a sarcastic tone. I'd like to report her, but in Europe we are not so strict with privacy laws. I wish we were!! I am planning to print out your article and hang it in the hall...

merrymerry
merrymerry

chewing with mouth opem is really annoy me

Heids
Heids

You forgot gum snapping!!

JoshuaMonesson
JoshuaMonesson

thanks for the tips...the most irritating part is when we have to speak loud that is 2 awkward situation to handle

thefarmerslife
thefarmerslife

Complaining and micromanaging were my worst. I agree if you can't do anything but complain it might be time to seek employment elsewhere. I think some people aren't happy unless they are upset about something all the time.

Micromanaging stinks. Especially when you're the one being micromanaged. There were times when I didn't know what to do from one week to the next when a regional manager thought he was 10 store managers.

carstory
carstory

Great insights, I learn lots of good points here. Interrupting for me is the most annoying one during workplace, if someones interrupting something while you are busy make you more irritable! I hate it.

NileshShah
NileshShah

I really enjoyed reading this and completely agree with the odd points. I'm sailing in that boat now!

jcansell
jcansell

not a very good article.dislike.

westfallonline
westfallonline

Micromanagement is another word for mistrust. Good post!

swagclub
swagclub

@meghanmbiro I was gonna try to respond with all 12 of those infractions, but you seem so nice. So, you've got that going for you.

josehuitron
josehuitron

@meghanmbiro Are you serious? Is that even a question? LOL... I do have to admit however that I'm probably guilty of a few of those...

MeghanMBiro
MeghanMBiro

@markvanbaale Had a feeling. My people radar is on....Unf, "they" are everywhere. We are in this one together. Peace ;-) for #Workplace

markvanbaale
markvanbaale

@meghanmbiro If you got to know me, you would find out I vent a lot on here about annoying ppl. Some do more than their share to annoy. ;)

MeghanMBiro
MeghanMBiro

@markvanbaale Laughs! Sounds brilliant - Carry on Sir....Thanks again. Vents happen re annoying people.

CareerTips2Go
CareerTips2Go

Answering the cell phone in meetings is a big one. A client answered his cell and I overheard him client telling his boss that he was 'calling on a client' when he was actually meeting with me.

Here are two other bothersome ones that could be added:

**Opening someone else's mail, and

**Taking credit for someone else's work

iannarino
iannarino

@MeghanMBiro Number 7, Complaining, is so much more than annoying. It can completely undo a team. Negativity is the only cancer that spreads by contact, and the power to continually complain and chip away at the great attitudes of others should be stopped as soon as it is recognized. This stinks worse than the salmon.

tombolt
tombolt

Probably a combination of several of the top 12, but I've always wondered why people listen to voicemail on speakerphone when in an open-office environment. The only thing more annoying is to be on an hour-long conference call on speakerphone when nobody around is remotely interested or involved.

This topic could really take legs and go on forever! Common courtesy prevents these irritants from happening in the first place, but even the most polite people can be offenders and it is almost impolite to suggest that they stop the annoying habit.

sidebarreview
sidebarreview

Great list! I'd like to add more of the noisy sins: noseblowing (seriously!), crunching on nuts/chips/crackers, playing a radio or Pandora without headphones or using a speakerphone in a cubicle environment. These things make me crazy!

markvanbaale
markvanbaale

@cyndytrivella I guess I would be guilty of No. 4 then for today. We are allowed to wear sandals to work and I did. :)

CyndyTrivella
CyndyTrivella

Very funny comments and oh so true. I have to go with Mark on the "sniffers" or "snifflers" as I call them. The noise is so intrusive.

Also, if you pick anything off of your body, please don't leave it in my office.

Years ago I worked with someone who was constantly asking to borrow a pen, which she would return to me with bite marks and all wet with saliva. Really?

Feet. When I was in college I worked part-time in the shoe department for a large retailer... enough said.

SybilQSM
SybilQSM

Beyond going barefoot in the office, how about the cubicle guy who clips his toenails at work? Ugh!

Sonia (Sunnnee)
Sonia (Sunnnee)

Wow, I have seen these silly habits in the past few jobs I have had. I have worked with some colorful people in my time on earth and these are the worst habits, but it happens. Everyone is human so perfection in the workplace is not always attainable. I am with DrewCM on the "Pointless Storyteller" because people like that annoy the hell out of me. Sit your a-- down already!

And don't even get me started on the "brown-nosers" that I have worked with in the past. You know the ones that follow the boss around so close your thinking, "why don't you just lick his b--" already! But those are the ones you always need to watch out for because they will hang you at the first sight where they feel they can gain an inch. Some people are a trip in the workplace which leads me to live by this motto: DTA : Don't Trust Anyone. Funny Post Meghan!

catykobe
catykobe

Hilarious! Love this! Great post, Meghan!!

MeghanMBiro
MeghanMBiro

@ThisIsLars Meetings for the sake of meetings! #TChat topic? Perhaps a fun take on....Hmmmm.

DrewCM
DrewCM

Oh, MeghanMBiro. I think you have captured many of the most egregious habits. There's nothing that says, "Welcome to our office!" like the smell of over-warmed seafood wafting from the microwave, unless of course, it has been followed closely by someone microwaving a bag of buttered popcorn until it has exploded or caught fire. Good times.

My personal pet peeve: "The Pointless Storyteller." The person, much like the wandering

troubadours of olde goes from cubicle-to-cubicle and office-to-office sharing vouminous inanities. The park themselves in the entrance to your workspace and begin telling a story, unasked for, which carries with it so much detail (all extraneous) and so many characters (none of whom serve any particular purpose) that you need a wiki just to keep it all straight. In the telling the Pointless Storyteller loses the plot, while you (trying to figure out how to escape) slowly lose the will to live.

There are only two known ways to short-circuit this person. Fake a massive heart attack. Or, point over the person's shoulder and say, "Hey, I didn't know it was <insert Pointless Storyteller's favorite food type here> Day today?!" When they are diverted hide and pray they find another victim to whom they can "add value."

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV

Geez - flip flops drive me nuts. Don't like feet and don't want to see yours.

Loud Talkers - Seriously shut it - some of us are trying to work.

OH yeah - and if you aren't into hygiene - gosh - Shower please -use soap and make it count. I'm not here to smell you.

Meghan - this is such a funny post and I think it needs a part 2 because 12 may not be enough.

bryanwempen
bryanwempen

OMG, where to start and warning I'm jumping around a bit..... #2 stinking the joint up with whatever is amazingly inconsiderate and lets take it a bit further.... then licking your efffing fingers covered by fries, popcorn, salmon, whatever food and proceeding to touch everything phone, copier, door knobs, pictures and then (lets keep going) intrude on my personal space #12 by then wanting-to-shake-my-hand with that nasty-ass licked up hand of yours. (ewwww)

From low-talkers to whisperers to interrupters actually #3,5,6,8,9 can we say classic passive-aggressive behavior, please get some help because you suck to work with, volunteer with and be around. (FYI).

Lastly, #4 bare feet at work or in my airspace on a plane (btw you're really efffed up for doing this...) is almost as disgusting as talking on your phone in the bathroom then coming to my desk and sitting it down. Stop! For the love of.........

Awesome post.....thanks for allowing me to offer up some comment gumbo! Bryan -

MelBenwell
MelBenwell

Great post Meghan... I think coworkers should be sensitive to smells in the workplace. The feet and fish heating are two of my peeves.

YouTernMark
YouTernMark

Great post, Meghan! As one who works in a virtual workplace and participates in many conference calls a day, I'd like to add one more: "The Sniffer". It could also be "The Chewer" or "The Breather" -- but the person who sniffs throughout the entire meeting is particularly annoying. It could be they have no idea how close their nose is to the microphone, or maybe they just don't know where the tissue box is located. Either way, highly annoying -- virtually, or face-to-face.

And one more... an extension of No. 11: the person who does not answer their cell phone during a meeting. After all, that would be rude. Instead, they text that they are in a meeting and can't answer right now -- with the incessant clicking of the text interrupting the entire room. Nope, that isn't rude, distracting or annoying at all... SO glad you didn't answer the phone!

wadvisor
wadvisor

Good post Meghan,

Your post reminded me about my past corporate career.

#11 still happens in meetings(I find it to be very rude to the speaker, the meeting, the other person and anywhere else it happens). People forget to switch phones off or go to silent mode. I ask people before presentations if they can "please" switch their phones so it does not interrupt the speaker and the entire presentation but some people still decide to answer a phone call in a middle of a presentation (short term memory? lol).

#8 is a wonder to me. These days everyone seems to know about everything so we all become experts correcting everybody else. I had a novice money manager telling me how the world of money management works the other day (he had no idea who I am and what my background was). He assumed something about my statement and tried to correct me. I was like really dude? Maybe listening might help (I had to point him out to several 12 most post as a helping guide)

#1 is about self awareness to me. If people cant be aware of their environment when everyone can hear them except themselves, I begin to ask myself some questions. Loud speaking does not fit everywhere.

Great job and reminded some good and some crazy memories from the past.

Have a great one!

spofcher
spofcher

#11: Taking cell phone calls during meetings. Maybe it is just this one person who does this.

I REALLY dislike it when I am in a meeting with someone or I call someone who is in a meeting and they answer their cell phone saying, "I am in a meeting, can you call me later." They talk in a voice like it is the callers fault for calling during the meeting. (Hopefully this all makes sense.)

Irks me. 1) Why doesn't that person just turn off the cell phone. 2) They never give a good time to call back.

ComedyRT
ComedyRT

I have just moved desks at work. Next to a lady who has three different voices. Her first is her normal, quiet Devonshire voice that is neither particularly pleasant or offensive. But as soon as she picks up the phone she metamorphesises.

If speaking to a receptionist/PA/Secretary she grabs a cockney accent straight from eastenders. "Alright Darrrling etc etc".

But more annoying is once she is past the 'gate-keeper' she starts talking in the most toff accent one has ever heard. It drives me round the bend. She is now simply known as 'the voice'.

24InMyMind
24InMyMind

Everything you have mentioned here are things that annoy me at work. I am forced to work in a cubicle setup and the person on the other side of the wall makes comments to the things I am saying to other people, as if she is in the conversation. Drives me up the wall (cubicle)! And, this same person orders food for lunch from God knows where that smells up the office like God knows what every day. Makes me nauseous. I do have to admit, however, that 5 minutes before I read your post, I ran to the copier with my shoes off! I know, I know, it's wrong. I'm not proud of it, but at least it doesn't hurt anybody else!

MJCarty
MJCarty

@meghanmbiro “Consider, Sir, how insignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence.” - Fine advice from Samuel Johnson on what's important!

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