When Co-Workers Don’t Realize They’re Annoying You

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Workplaces often get described as a battle of good and evil. A demanding boss or a jealous co-worker who make your professional existence miserable. These people are actively harming you, and your career can suffer because of them.

Yet, not all co-workers who get on your nerves are bad people. These colleagues are often nice and the kind of people you wouldn’t mind hanging out with during happy hour now and then. You wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for that one really annoying habit of theirs that makes you want to lock them in the supply closet and throw away the key. You know, that one thing that they always do that causes you to take a deep breath and go for a walk just to get away from them now and again.

As we learned about co-workers who need to tone down the cologne or perfume, many people don’t realize that their behavior is annoying. They’re not trying to get on your nerves … but they do. In order to let you vent, we’ve put together a list of some annoying behavior you’re likely to witness while on the clock, whether in an office, in a retail store or construction site. Where two or more co-workers gather, annoying behavior follows.

Some co-workers don’t realize that they’re annoying, but they are. Why? Because they’re:

Always saying the wrong things.
The unknowingly offensive co-worker isn’t necessarily performing an action directly to you. Often the words coming from their mouths are natural to them but grating to you.

  • Lingo fanatics: Please avoid relying on business lingo to get your message across. Every industry has jargon, but some words should be used sparingly if at all: value add, circle back, synergy, ping, think outside the box and manage up. (Feel free to add others in the comments.)
  • Uhm, like, you know, like, uhm: Verbal fillers (uhm, like) are not often heard on radio or news broadcasts because they don’t add any substance to what’s being said. They are just placeholders until the speaker can get the right words out. A few “uhms” or an occasional “like” are acceptable, but if they comprise the bulk of your spoken words, try to weed them out. You don’t sound knowledgeable to your co-workers and they are more focused on how you’re speaking than on what you’re saying.

Financial impositions
Annoying co-workers often mean well, but they don’t realize that they’re do-gooding is a nuisance on you and your checkbook.

  • Always celebrating something: The resident party planner is always looking for a reason to buy a card, buy a cake, get a gift or throw a party. If you’re the one responsible for these activities, make sure everyone is on board and that you’re not overdoing it. People don’t like being pressured into contributing if they didn’t have a say in the event, and they certainly don’t want to be doling out cash to their co-workers several times a month.
  • Peddling cookies and magazines: When children are raising money, the funds are probably going to a worthy cause that people don’t mind donating to, if funds permit. However, don’t be known as the person who has a new product to push every semester — especially if you’re sending around your adorable child to do the selling.

Some etiquette you learned as a child can come across as overly formal, such as never putting your elbows on the table or wearing a baseball cap indoors. While certain rules can be discarded, others should be observed for the sake of co-workers.

  • Gum popping and chewing loudly: If you are chewing gum, have the decency to keep your mouth closed and not make a loud popping noise. That startling, incessant pop is breaking your co-workers’ concentration. If you’re chewing any food, remember to keep your mouth closed. No one needs to see the contents of your mouth.
  • Cracking knuckles: Although cracking your knuckles can be therapeutic, it’s as jarring as popping your gum. The strange noise and inevitable sighs of relief after  should be done away from your colleagues.

These are just a few of the annoying habits your co-workers are oblivious to. You can probably list a dozen more. Let us know what annoying habits make you silently scream throughout the day and how you’ve handled them. Feel free to print this out and tape it up at work. Or maybe just leave it casually on someone’s desk so they get the hint.

  1. Most of my co-workers are quite respectful and congenial. However, in the category of mindless annoyances, there is the chronic issue of leaving their material at the common-printer. It never occurs to several of my co-workers that others resent having to gleen-through their stack, when the diligent co-worker is trying to immediately retrieve their material that they just printed. Some of my co-workers leave there print-outs for hours, assuring that dozens of other clients (of the common printer) are going to have to rummage-through it. And the biggest slap-in-the-face; printing-out exactly before clocking-out and wlaking-out, leaving the material unretreived until the next day!

  2. As one who has managed groups for 15 years, I’ve learned two things that apply to this article. First, no matter what the offense or offensive action is, each person has a choice as to how to react or respond. No one can make a person angry, irritated, annoyed, etc. It is a choice of the individual to become that way, regardless of what is be done to them or around them. No one has a “right” to become angry. Second, “Don’t mud wrestle.” The instant one responds negatively to anyone else because of their behavior, they have stained their own white robes with the other person’s mud. Refuse to respond or retaliate. Instead, respond with goodness, gentleness, joyfulness and self control. In doing so, you will win the day.

  3. Some things that comes to mind are those lucky folks that actually have offices, but then subject those around them to their speakerphone conference calls without the courtesy of closing their door. Or those who retrieve their voice-mail via speakerphone several times a day. Finally, those with “latchkey” kids who call several times a day with insignificant problems that they expect Mom or Dad to manage from work.

  4. I work in a cube. My co-worker directly across from me sings show tunes throughout the day. Her voice is not great. She also taps her heels to some of the songs on her plastic pad under her office chair while she works. This situation and co-workers who whistle while they work are really hard to deal with. Any suggestions?

  5. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy in the world, wear headphones if you must listen to music. If you’re required to not wear headphones and must use speakers because your boss is weird (like mine) and forbids headphones because they think you can’t hear your phone ring with them on, do this… Turn on your speakers when no one else is around, then go to, say, your neighbor’s cube. If you can still hear the music, it’s up too loud. Seriously.

    My coworkers listen to some of the worst music I have ever heard, and even sing along with that. I find myself listening to my own music, in my headphones, even when I don’t want to (because, say, the headphones are beginning to hurt my ear lobes) because it’s either that or not be able to focus on what I am doing at all.

    Also, if you must have personal conversations with people on your cell phone, do everyone else a favor and take it to an empty room, or outside.

    I realize that sometimes the office space is going to be a noisey place, and that unless you work in a library, it could get loud at times. But that should be pretty rare and always work-related if so. That even goes for anyone “in charge” (i.e., managers, owners, etc).

  6. I have a co-worker whose cube is next to mine and she eats very loud chips all day long. She also belches after lunch and makes odd little “hmph” sounds unconsciously I believe. She is very nice and have a lovely phone voice, albeit very loud. Sitting next to her has helped me to understand why people become severely obese: it really is because they eat constantly. I hope I don’t sound cruel.

  7. Well I have a co-worker who sings all day long (badly, may I add) in her native language, and has gotten verbally abusive when one day I expressed annoyance at the radio announcer (doing the typical tribal yell) … we are an office, not a nightclub. What’s worse is that we all (Managers mind you) tip-toe around this retard AND SHE’S THE FLIPPIN’ RECEPTIONIST!!! Does doin’ the boss, you ask? In this recess, things are tough enough, but being in this situation makes me think going postal is the next option … oh, and for those who don’t know me I tend to joke alot so please don’t send Home Land Security to my home for questioning (thank you). However, you can call the IRS on my behalf so they know she’s being paid under the table so she can keep her Medicare benefits … nice set-up. What does one expect from Ghetto Trash and a hopeful-she’ll-do-me Owner??


  8. My 70plus co-worker insist she has to cut her fingernails here in the office every 2 weeks as the lighting is better here than at her home. I work in an office which has the public in & out all day long….(social services) and she just sits there cutting away after 9:00. She also blows bubbles & snaps them all day too…..now we sit in an area 10×10 so it gets on my nerves & I have made comments but she just doesnt care & goes on about her day…….

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