Work & Career
13 Types of Annoying Co-Workers—Make Sure You’re Not One of Them!
You know that guy who leaves half a tuna fish sandwich in the office fridge, half-wrapped and stinking up the place? Don’t be that guy. And while you’re at it, don’t be these other folks who are basically every office-worker’s worst nightmare.
TMI Guy or Girl aka the one who shares too much
TMI, as you likely know, stands for “too much information,” but it’s not just an acronym, according to April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert, it’s an office scourge. Does anyone really want to know where you are in your menstrual cycle? Or how your fantasy football team did over the weekend? Or that you’re on the cabbage-soup-cleanse? If you even had to think about it, you actually might be TMI Guy, in which case, please listen: Forcing too much information on your coworkers is an easy mistake to make because there isn’t all that much personal information that your coworkers should, or should want to, know about you. So just keep in mind that in the office, sharing is not caring. As Masini explains, it’s not only annoying, it’s downright offensive in that it pushes the limits of acceptable personal boundaries. And while you’re at it, curb those probing personal questions you ask your co-workers. No one likes a mosey Nelly. A better tactict? Try these strategies to help build trust with your co-workers.
Gossip Girl or Guy, aka the one who shares too much about others
Gossiping about co-workers may be a mainstay of office-based sitcom television, but in the real world, it’s destructive and unethical. At first, it might seem fun—a way of bonding with coworkers. But the very moment it begins, another dynamic begins right alongside of it: bullying, explains Heather Monahan, an expert on business and women’s empowerment. When gossip gets going, someone is the object, or more accurately, the target. But not only does the target suffer, knowingly or unknowingly, those engaged in the gossiping suffer too because anyone who gossips must understand that at some point, the tables may turn, and they will become the target. The takeaway here is: don’t gossip with or about your coworkers. And if you find yourself on other side, make sure to keep a written record of any instances in which you have felt bullied as a result. That written record will serve you well should you decide to bring a complaint to the Human Resources. Think your colleagues might be toxic? Learn the signs you can’t trust your coworkers.
No Volume Control aka the one who talks too loudly
Maybe you don’t gossip to your colleagues, but you sure talk loudly on the phone to your spouse, your kids, or your friends. Maybe, you talk loudly at your desk to your doctor. Do you really think your colleagues want to hear these conversations? That’s a rhetorical question. If you’re the person with no volume control, then you’ve also inadvertently become TMI Guy or Girl. But what about talking loudly at your desk about work-related matters? If it’s just you on the phone, it’s quite likely distracting and disturbing to your neighbors. If it’s you talking on the speaker phone, you can bet your nearby colleagues are on the verge of snapping their pencils. Even if it’s you and another coworker talking loudly at your desk about work matters, it’s potentially annoying. “All employees should remember to be mindful of others working near them. If possible, try to make phone calls in a conference room or the hallway instead to avoid disrupting others,” suggests Peter Yang, former human resources manager and co-founder of ResumeGo, which offers career coaching and resume writing services. Here are some other really stupid office mistakes you could be making.
Takeout Gross Out, aka the one with the smelly food
That leftover bit of your Chinese takeout that you left on a plate in the office sink isn’t anyone’s friend, and it’s not going to make you any, says Masini. It’s rude to leave food in the sink. It’s even ruder when it’s smelly food. There’s nothing wrong with bringing in your lunch, Masini says. “Lots of people order takeout and eat at their desks. The problem is when the food has a strong odor. As great as the food tastes, the smell will pervade the office, and few who aren’t eating the food will appreciate smelling the food. If you’re the one doing this, please consider how it might offend your coworkers.” If someone else is doing it on a consistent basis, it’s best to mention it to your manager, rather than approaching the coworker, yourself, Yang points out, particularly if ethnic food is the culprit. While some of these spices might have a pungent odor, they’re super good for you. So maybe eat foods rich in these spices at home in order to get the best health benefits while annoying the fewest coworkers?
Smells like Team Spirit, aka the one with the bad B.O.
OK, let’s just get down to brass tacks, shall we? It’s not the food that’s stinking up the place, we’re afraid. It’s you. Didn’t know you had body odor? Well, that’s not surprising because no one ever does. But we all do. “Recognize that wherever you go, you’re leaving a smell footprint,” suggests Masini. Laura Handrick, an HR analyst with FitSmallBusiness notes that there are gender differences, however, in the way men and women perceive the personal scents of their coworkers. “Men seem to complain about body odor, while women complain about perfumes and colognes, claiming it bothers their allergies.” This may be chalked up to women being more “polite” in their complaining style. Either way, the reality is that if you work in an office, you ought to try to keep your own personal scent set to “nasal neutral,” as Masini says. This goes for your scented candles and incense as well. Don’t use them in the office. And don’t bring a cloud of smoke back to your desk if and when you pop out for a cigarette break. (We hope you don’t smoke, but if you do, here are the ways to quit.)
The one with the fashion emergency
You made a great first impression, presumably, because you got the job. So then what happened? Apparently, women tend to complain about other women dressing too “sexy,” with their clothes too tight or revealing too much cleavage, Handrick says. “We don’t tend to hear these complaints from men,” she observes wryly. But it’s not just about dressing too provocatively. It’s about wearing clothes that are clean and pressed and appropriate to your office environment. “We still have the responsibility to look appropriate at work, even after we get the job,” points out Maryanne Parker, the founder of Manor of Manners, a San Diego-based firm that provides etiquette and protocol consulting. “When we dress for work, we need to remember, it’s not for ourselves, it’s for our coworkers.” Whatever the dress code at your office, pay attention, and follow it. Consider it your chance to make a first impression every single day. Sure it can be a challenge to pull it all together, style-wise, so we’ve broken down office dress codes into this handy infographic.
The Nail Clipper
Clip. Clip. Clip. That’s what your coworkers hear when you clip your nails at your desk. Here’s what they think: Ewwww! “Clipping your nails is simply not intended for the public to see. It’s not only unappealing, it feels disrespectful to your coworkers,” says Parker. “We consider this very personal. Common sense, right? Well, common sense might not be all that common.” Bottom line: Don’t clip your nails in public anywhere ever. And while you’re at it, put a stop to these other hygiene moves you should never do in public.
The one whose phone is never on silent
Your personal cell phone is a problem if it’s never on mute or silent mode. In fact, as Parker says, it should be on mute or silent at all times in the office. “Many times people leave their phones on their desks, and might need to attend a meeting or just leave the office space. While they are away, the phone can start ringing and in some cases never stops. This is extremely annoying and distracting for everyone else.” It’s no less annoying when the person is sitting at their desk, and it’s beeping and ringing incessantly. Set it to silent, and let the rest of the office forget about it, please.
The Fridge Raider, aka the one who steals everyone’s food
There’s one simple rule of etiquette that applies in the office, according to Parker, “If you didn’t put it in the fridge, don’t touch it.” If it just so happens that you put food in the fridge, and someone ate it, try not to let it rattle you too much. If it happens on a regular basis, alert your HR manager.
The Ghost, aka the one who can’t be reached
“Hey, thanks for stopping by.” If that’s something you’re hearing from your colleagues, it’s time to rethink your availability. “The inability of co-workers to get hold of each other is extremely annoying,” says Syed Irfan Ajmal, who is responsible for hiring and working with marketing professionals at an online rugs retailer, ALRUG.com. The solution? Be available. Keep a calendar and share it with your coworkers. When you’re away from your desk, leave a sticky that says when you’ll be back or how you can be reached. Here are the best organizational apps on the market. Try them and see if you become less of a “ghost” in the office.
The All-Hours Emailer
There’s nothing like waking up at 2 a.m. on a weekend to an email from a coworker. “Hi, I’m here at the office, and ….” NO. Just stop. Don’t even read it. Whatever it is, it should be able to wait. But more importantly? Don’t be the jerk sending that email. Don’t email coworkers from the office in the wee hours of the night, and don’t email coworkers who are on vacation, according to Yang. “People take vacations for a reason, and they usually don’t like to be bothered when they’re having time off,” Yang says, stating what should be the obvious. Need to brush up on your email etiquette. Check out these tips to be a more respectful and less annoying emailer.
La-z-boy, aka the one who’s slacking off
La-z-boy is a brand of comfy home furniture. As such, it has NO place at the office. “This is one of the most common complaints people have about their coworkers, says Todd Davis, the “chief people officer” for FranklinCovey and author of the upcoming book, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work. According to Monahan, “Employees don’t like to feel like they’re being taken advantage of by those who aren’t working as hard as them.” If you’re on the other side of the problem, talking to the offender can help, says Monahan. “By asking why the team member you are working with is unable to get their work done, you may find out they simply don’t want to do the task or can’t get it done.” At that point, you can try to deal with it one-to-one, or you can bring in a manager, who may not know there’s an issue until you bring it up. “If your manager doesn’t care or doesn’t take action it probably is time to update your resume and capitalize on the need for talented employees in 2017,” Monahan advises.
The one who doesn’t handle conflict well
Hopefully, you’re not any of the annoying office workers discussed above. But what if you’re the one on the business end of the annoyances? Handrick says that each situation has to be dealt with individually. “Never send out a mass email complaining about a colleague.” In some of the previously described situations, there will be room to talk to the offending person. In some cases, it’s too delicate, in which case your next step would be to ask your manager for advice. Instead of complaining, try one of these more productive ways to deal with life’s annoyances.