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


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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