The best thing and the worst thing about most workplaces is the people. Coworkers can have amazing talents but they can also drive us up the wall.
A great piece on career advice from Monster.com lists four broad categories of annoyances:
People Who “Blather Nonstop About Their [Fill in the blank]”
Whether it’s their wedding, their weekend, their pets, their kids, the big game, the popular movie, or their vacation, people love to talk about stuff that has nothing to do with work at work.
While a little socializing can be fine, the purpose of work is to get things done. Talk too much about your personal life and you’ll make people crazy.
Those That “Engage in Amateur Fundraising Activities”
It’s always the season for something: cookies, popcorn, raffle tickets, discount books, walk-a-thons, or a local non-profit. Of course it makes sense to reach out to people you know for these needs, but getting too pushy can push people over the edge.
Colleagues That Generate “an Untenable Amount of Noise”
As we’ve covered before, there’s nothing quite like having the level of sound you prefer in your workspace. The opposite is being out of control of that noise—and it’s worse when someone else has the power to decide how much noise there is, but ignores your existence.
Coworkers who “Operate in a Constant State of Neediness”
I’ll quote directly from Monster.com:
[They] require constant attention, assistance, praise or all three. This particular breed of annoying employee will tell you what they had for dinner and then what they watched on TV last night. They ask questions that you know they know the answer to. They pout when you ignore them or don’t invite them to lunch.
All awful, indeed.
Another fantastic piece on the topic features 8 Annoying Things That Coworkers Do. Here are a few favorites:
2. Coffee offenders
The coffee at work is sacred. Almost everyone in the office needs that coffee to get through the work day. The coffee should be respected, and there has to be a coffee-making system or the entire office will go into complete chaos (excuse the dramatics).
If you take the last cup of coffee, make some more. Don’t leave an empty pot sitting there on the burner, waiting for some other coworker to come along. The next person then has to walk to the pot, make the coffee, sit back down, go back up to the machine and prepare a cup — when you could have done it in one fell swoop.
4. Know-it-alls and one uppers
We’ve all worked with a person like this. If we have success in our career, this person immediately share’s a bigger, better success story. If something cool happens to us, they tell us about something cooler that happened to them. They’re ready to one up everyone in the office, no matter what. This type of coworker is rarely (if ever) willing to let someone else have the spotlight, even if only for a moment.
And there are even more. Here’s an impressive list of nearly fifty annoying traits, and an old Reddit discussion thread with countless more coworker complaints. We’re all frustrated with our colleagues: what should we do about it?
Step 1: Don’t Be Part of The Problem
Virtually every one of these crazy-making behavior patterns has the same two elements: acting self-important and focusing on something other than work.. That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally brag about the amazing concert you saw. But it means the more you talk about yourself and the more you talk about stuff outside of your job, the more likely you are to be annoying.
Step 2: Politely Set Boundaries
When people start talking about stuff that annoys you, listen for a little bit. And then draw the line, gently. Here are some things you can say:
- “Interesting! Well, I need to get back to work.”
- “Sounds like we should get lunch soon so you can tell me the rest!”
- “You’re hilarious. You should write a blog!”
- “I appreciate this, but I need to change the subject.”
Step 3: Model Good Behavior
Show what people should do by doing it yourself, and make sure it’s clear that you’re doing it. If you take the last glass of water from the dispenser, ask someone else for help in getting that five gallon jug loaded. If you’re going to play music, check with everyone in the nearby cubicles. And if you’re going to tell a story from your personal life, start by asking folks if they are headed to a meeting or working on an essential deadline.
Do your best to curb annoyances from your coworkers. And remember: if nothing else, you can always look for another job.