Co-workers can really make or break a workplace. A bad boss can make your life miserable, yes, but at least you can commiserate with your fellow disgruntled colleagues. In most situations, they are the ones sitting next to you eight hours a day. They engage in idle chitchat with you and exchange e-mails with you all day. They are as important to the job as your job duties.
Not everyone is so lucky. A recent CareerBuilder survey finds 39 percent of workers think they don’t fit in with their colleagues. Workers in health care, sales, and professional and business services were most likely to feel like they’re out of step with their co-workers.
When asked to share the most bizarre things they’ve seen their colleagues do, surveyed workers had some unique stories:
- Co-worker ate the cheese off the pizza box at a company meeting.
- Co-worker talks openly about flatulence.
- Co-worker in the cubicle next to me wears 3-D glasses with the lenses removed.
- Co-worker repeatedly bangs a mallet on the table for no apparent reason.
- Co-worker whistles eight hours a day.
- Co-worker chews tobacco and spits it into empty soda bottles.
- Former boss brought a baby sippy cup to a meeting and started drinking out of it.
- Co-worker cleaned fingernails using a counterpart’s business card.
- Talk it out: Talk professionally and honestly with your co-worker about his or her behavior. Be sure to do this in private and try not to embarrass anyone or make the situation worse.
- Take it to a higher level: Don’t be afraid to get your boss involved or talk to HR. If the behavior is hurting your ability to do your job, it might be time to call in the big guns.
- Mix it up: If you can’t come to an agreement with a co-worker who is bothering you, ask to be reseated in another area.
I’ve not been (un)lucky enough to witness any workplace behavior quite as strange as the ones above, but I’m guessing some of you have. Feel free to share the strangest things you’ve seen at work. It’ll make you feel good to get it off of your chest and it will probably make the rest of us feel normal.