39 Ways to Annoy Your Coworkers

Coworker trauma usually arises out of the little annoying everyday stuff. No one (usually) sets out to drive co-workers crazy.


Coworker relationships are like no other. You don’t (usually) get to choose your coworkers. Yet you have to spend considerable amounts of time with them, and you have to get along with them well enough so that you as a team can produce whatever product or service it is that you produce.

All this, whether you like these people or not!

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Sometimes dealing with problem coworkers is your biggest job challenge. But mostly, coworker trauma arises out of the little annoying everyday stuff. No one (usually) sets out to drive coworkers crazy. But it happens, and it happens every day.

In fact, it’s possible that maybe even you, wonderful you, are guilty of a few less-than-ideal behaviors. Not likely, mind you. Just possible.

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Therefore, in the interest of greater workplace sanity and happiness, not to mention productivity, here’s a list of things not to do in the workplace. They’re not illegal or immoral. They don’t all apply to every kind of work. Some are even not that bad in small doses. But there’s enough here to provide food for thought for pretty much everyone.

(Who knew there were so many ways to be a pain?)

  1. Your workstation is a sty.
  2. You brown nose.
  3. You complain.
  4. You gossip.
  5. You carelessly “reply all.”
  6. You come to work sick.
  7. You try to convert coworkers to your religion.
  8. You try to convert coworkers to your political cause.
  9. You tell dirty jokes.
  10. You use bad language.
  11. You loudly chew gum.
  12. You conduct personal grooming, such as clipping fingernails, in the workplace.
  13. You bring smelly food for lunch.
  14. You over-share about your personal life.
  15. You forward junk E-mail.
  16. You smell of strong perfume or cologne.
  17. You smell.
  18. You brag about your successes.
  19. You are a drama queen or king.
  20. You borrow things and do not return them.
  21. You steal people’s lunches/snacks.
  22. You leave long rambling voice mails.
  23. You stand behind people and read over their shoulders.
  24. You shout over cubicle walls to ask questions or make remarks.
  25. You play music loud enough for others to hear.
  26. You leave a mess in the workplace kitchen.
  27. You burn popcorn in the workplace microwave.
  28. You walk so noisily that others can hear you coming and going.
  29. You make maddening little noises (tongue-clacking, knuckle-cracking, humming).
  30. You click your pen, or tap it on your desk.
  31. You set your cell phone to an annoying ring tone.
  32. You talk on your cell phone in the restroom.
  33. You make loud personal phone calls others can hear.
  34. You share detailed descriptions of medical procedures.
  35. You repeatedly use “amusing” expressions such as “Working hard or hardly working?” or “Are we having fun yet?”
  36. You take credit for other people’s work.
  37. You are frequently late.
  38. You are never around when you’re needed.
  39. You are dishonest, or unreliable, or just plain bad at your job.
  40. [See more advice from Karen Burns at U.S.News Careers.]

    Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.


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