Workplace Woes: 10 Office Habits That Annoy Your Colleagues

By Krystal Brown

Here are 10 behaviors that may be driving you (or your coworkers) crazy.

Arriving Late For Meetings

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Over a span of several weeks, one or two late arrivals are acceptable. But being constantly late is impolite and a sign of bad time management.  Don’t give this slacker your support. No matter what, don’t start the meeting over. If someone asks you to give a recap later, cautiously decline and suggest that they read the meeting minutes if they have the time. 

Thumping A Pen On The Desk

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This annoying tic irritates everyone within the hearing range (not forgetting all Zoom meeting participants). What’s more annoying, the offender may not even be aware of his crimes. To remedy this, avoid using a combative tone while bringing up the subject. Make a comedy out of it by saying something like, “Am I the only one hearing that woodpecker in the background?”

Repeatedly Asking For Clarification

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Someone who processes information more slowly can make you anxious, especially in a fast-paced environment.  Ask what is unclear rather than repeating what you just said. The coworker may discover that they have the necessary knowledge after taking some time to go through what may have previously looked hazy. Or, if they’re really confused and you’re pressed for time, promise to share your notes on the project with them later.

Oversharing Private Issues

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Let’s admit it: certain people have very frail (or zero) personal boundaries. However, a coworker might at times just need somebody to confide in.  When a coworker talks too much, give yourself permission to express your dissatisfaction, but do so in a gentle manner. If the person is experiencing a crisis, let them understand that you are honored to have their confidence but advise them to seek out a more qualified sounding board. Does the employee assistance program (EAP) within the organization help employees’ mental health? If not, this might be the perfect chance to do so.

Poor Hygiene

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Even though bad hygiene is unattractive, it might be the result of many personal problems that coworkers are unaware of.  This issue requires a high level of sensitivity and empathy. Request a private meeting with the worker and speak just for yourself—even if other colleagues have voiced their dissatisfaction. Otherwise, learning that others made remarks may cause the employee to feel ashamed and embarrassed. Inform your colleague politely of what you’ve observed. Making the culprit aware will usually be sufficient to effect change. 

Always Being Negative

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It may be interpreted as being uncooperative to consistently express a pessimistic or opposing perspective in response to suggestions. Avoid saying things like “That will not work,” “That seems too hard,” or “I wouldn’t know where to start.” Similar to complaining excessively, it makes you look bad. Although everyone might occasionally feel the urge to voice their displeasure with their employer, a colleague, or a task, doing so will only make you appear unprofessional. It gets worse if you grumble nonstop from the time you arrive at work until you leave. People will soon make extra efforts to avoid you.

Playing “20 Questions” With Each New Task

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Although there may not be any stupid questions, there are unsettling questions. These are the queries that show your genuine lack of interest in the task at hand or that you merely want to hear yourself speak. When you are given a fresh task, gather your questions and express them logically. Never just start asking questions off the top of your head.

Eating Smelly Meals At Your Desk

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Lunch should not be had at the desk. According to experts, eating lunch at your desk is never a good idea because it’s unhealthy. Having lunch at your desk has an impact on more than just you. Messy, crumby, odorous, or noisy food might negatively affect your coworkers’ mood. This is particularly true for foods with strong flavors, which might be hard to overlook.

Being A Slob

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Being referred to as an office slob is never a compliment, whether you’re sitting at your computer or in the break room. Who precisely are you hoping would clean up after you when you plug the kitchen sink at the office and leave your trash lying around? Leaving a mess behind indicates irresponsibility, disregard for others, arrogance, and immaturity. Similarly, your office can reflect your personality.

Always Distracted During Meetings

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It’s impossible to fully concentrate on two things at once, that’s why texting while driving is illegal. Any of these behaviors during a meeting, including texting, online browsing, instant chatting, and emailing, shows that you are not paying attention to the other participants, especially your employer. Although your butt is firmly seated in the chair, they are aware that your thoughts are elsewhere.

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