12 Things You Do to Annoy your Co-Workers (That They Will Probably Never Tell You)

I have worked several different jobs during my career.  I have worked in 3 different industries in 5 different states.  I have been a manager and I have been an employee.  I have worked on small teams and big teams. Sometimes I was the youngest on the my team and sometimes I was the oldest.  I have been the only female on my team and I have also been the only African-American on my team.  With all of these different experiences, one thing always remained true….sometimes my co-workers annoyed me.

I know this is a touchy subject but somebody had to address the “elephant in the room.”  We go to work each day and interact with hundreds of people and let’s face it…people are different.  And because people are different, their work ethic is different.  Their idea of what is appropriate and not appropriate varies.  They have individual ideas of what is acceptable personal space.  I mean, has anybody stopped and really thought about this?  What happened to respect and etiquette in the workplace?  Are there any “rules” anymore on professionalism?  Or do we just do whatever we feel is right without regard to other people and how it may make them feel?

Regardless of how you may feel personally, hopefully you can agree that there should be a difference between how you act in the office and how you act in your own home.  Things that may be acceptable to do around your family and friends may not be acceptable to do around co-workers.  So since I’m not your co-worker, I felt it was safe for me to just bring a few things to your attention on their behalf.   Take a deep breath….here are some things that you do in the workplace that your co-workers find annoying (but will probably never tell you):

1.  They would like you to stop opening their office door and walking in without knocking.

Generally when people have their door closed it is because they are trying to concentrate on their work or may be on the phone or may be having a private discussion with a co-worker.  It’s kind of a way of saying “only disturb if really necessary” and when you just open the door and walk in, it is a lack of respect for their personal space.  Think about it this way…would you walk into someone’s home without knocking?  Of course an office is not the same as a house, but it is sort of their “home away from home” and your walking in without knocking it is borderline intrusive.

2.  They really would like you to not leave your dirty dishes/trash all over the break room.

I know some of you have seen the sign that says, “Please clean up after yourself. Your mother does not work here.”  Please, please take that to heart and clean up after yourself when you are eating your lunch or a snack in the break room. Remember, other people have to use that space as well.  I mean really??!!  Who is going to throw your trash away for you?  It only takes a few seconds to throw something away or wash your bowl after you are done using it.

3.  Your team members do not like when you assign a task to them when they are absent.

I have had this happen to me before and I was very displeased.  And then to make matters worse, my team lead told everyone I volunteered to do the task!  What?!!  Put yourself in the absent person’s shoes.  You wouldn’t like it if you missed a meeting and then were informed that you have been assigned to do a task that no one else wanted to do.  Give your co-workers the professional courtesy of knowing about the task and having the opportunity to decline if they are not interested.

4.  Not everyone wants to see pictures of your pets.

Your pets may be cute and like a part of the family to YOU but not necessarily to everyone else. So please keep this in mind the next time you are eating lunch with your co-workers and decide to pull up pictures of your pets on your cell phone and pass it around the table….multiple times!

5.  They would like you to wait more than 5 minutes after sending them an email before asking if they received it.

There is nothing more annoying than when you send an email to someone and then go knock on their door or stop them in the hallway 2 minutes after sending it to ask them about it.  Of course, I know there are some emergency situations that require an immediate response, but most emails can wait.  Also, if you are continuously overbearing in this area it may give the perception that you feel your work is more important than theirs.  This could be insulting to them.  Try being more patient when waiting for responses from your co-workers.  Remember, they are just as busy as you are.

6. If you are going to bring your children to work, they want you to make sure they are well-behaved.

I won’t say anymore so you don’t get upset and stop reading this blog.

7.  Supervisors, all of your employees do not want to have lunch or go to happy hour with you.

Your employees spend at least 8 hours a day at work and oftentimes their lunch break is the only “free” time they get.  It is the time they use to decompress and take their mind off of work for a minute or perhaps run an errand.  They don’t necessarily want to spend that free time with you as their supervisor because they feel like they are still at work and can’t relax completely.  Honestly, there are certain comments they can make in front of their other team members that they can’t make in front of you. So if they have to be on edge or watch what they say then it’s really not free time, but more of an extended team meeting.  And when it comes to happy hours, they definitely want to be able have a good time and unwind and that’s not always possible if the boss is around.

8.  If you drink coffee and eat birthday cake regularly, they want you to contribute to the coffee/birthday fund.

This is self-explanatory.

9.  Managers, your team members want the meetings to be shorter and less frequent.

Your team members do not want to sit through weekly meetings and listen to you do all the talking for an hour or more.  If there is no way around the frequency or length of the meetings, at least try to make them more interesting.  Team meetings are actually a great time to do in-house professional development; in that, during each meeting a different team member could do a mini-presentation on a topic. I am sure there is plethora of knowledge on your team and this way everyone showcases their area of expertise.  Sometimes, incorporating a team building exercise makes the meetings more enjoyable.  You could even include snacks during the meetings every now and then to ease the mood. Trust me…food ALWAYS works!

10.  They really wish you wouldn’t play your music or talk on the phone so loudly that it/you can be heard down the hall.

You have to share the same work space with your co-workers for 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. So a little bit of consideration on your part would go a long way.  Not everyone has the same taste in music and I am 100% positive everyone does not want to overhear your conversation with your mother about Sunday dinner.

(True story:  I had a co-worker who sat in the cubicle next to mine and made/answered EVERY single phone call on speakerphone.  The most annoying part was every Monday he was on a conference call for over an hour….and yes he had it on speakerphone LOUDLY.  This went on for weeks.  I went to him twice and asked him to please turn the volume down and/or get a headset to listen to the conference call, but of course he ignored my request and continued to do it.  One day during the Monday conference call, I could not take it any longer and went over to his cubicle and turn the volume down on his phone myself.  He looked at me in utter disbelief but it solved the problem. He never listen to the conference call on speakerphone again and shortly thereafter got a headset.)

11.  Your team members wish you would stop being so nosey.

Ouch! I know this may sting a little bit so I will be very gentle.  Not everyone is an open book like you are.  Some people are just very private and conservative.  My dad used to always say, “People will tell you what they want you to know.”  All of your co-workers don’t want to talk about what they did over the weekend or show you pictures from their vacation.  You cannot make other people act or think or be like you! And for heaven sakes, stop being so paranoid and asking a lot of questions whenever you see them talking to someone who you don’t know in the hallway or in their office!!  It doesn’t mean they’re up to something or conspiring behind your back.  (Let this marinate…….)

12. Managers, your team members do not like you when immediately start talking about business first thing in the morning.

Most people quit jobs because of their manager – not the actual work itself.  Your team members are human beings and not robots.  They have personal lives. They have issues and they have feelings.  It CAN’T always be about work all the time.  You have to take a moment and show some compassion and speak to the human side by asking about how their sick son or daughter is doing.  I am sure by the end of the day the project will be completed and all the emails will get answered, but first thing in the morning is not always the best time to ask about it.  If you show genuine concern for your employees, they will be more enthusiastic and the work you are concerned about just might get finished by noon!

Now, these are just a few that I’ve noticed and I know you want to add some of your own.  You probably also want a few of your co-workers to read this blog as well, but the hard part is getting them to see it, right?  Well, maybe you could post it anonymously in the break room….right above those dirty dishes.

3 thoughts on “12 Things You Do to Annoy your Co-Workers (That They Will Probably Never Tell You)

  1. I wonder where the rule of being punctual lies as I am still trying to work on being the best about being punctual and can see how people being late unintentionally affects others.

    • Hi Alton, I did not do a survey for the 12 things I have listed in this article. It is a combination of personal dislikes and “complaints” of co-workers I have heard throughout my career.

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