10 Annoying, Irritating, And Absolutely Unbearable Co-Worker Behaviors That You Deal With Every Day

Oh look, your coworker's changing their pants in their cubicle again.

1. SIGHING, WHISTLING, HUMMING, THROAT CLEARING, AND FOOT SHAKING

"He sits a few open desks away from me, and I swear he sighs deeply *every* time he gets an email, as if the very task of working really cuts into his day. He also likes to mumble and use breathy exclamations like "Really?!" and 'Maaaaaaaaan.'"

2. NAIL CLIPPING

"About once a week, I have to DUCK because my co-worker (who sits approximately 6 feet away from me) decides it's perfectly normal to CLIP HIS FINGERNAILS at his cubicle. I can hear the little nail-bits ricocheting off of various surfaces around our work-space..."

3. EATING SMELLY FOOD, AND SMELLING IN GENERAL

"The disgusting scent of fish at lunch time. We still haven't been able to figure out who the culprit is but I hate them."

4. BEING A NOISY EATER

"It is amazing to me how loudly some people eat. Chewing with your mouth open is obvious, but it drives me nuts to be able to to hear someone chew or swallow or slurp."

5. TOO MUCH TALKING

"There is a co-worker who knows she is a loud talker. She's admits it yet has no inclination to try and control the volume of her voice. She also strikes her desk for emphasis when she's feeling strongly about something. It is like a monster movie where you look at your cup of water it is rippling to signal danger."

6. PLAYING MUSIC SOFTLY IN THE OFFICE, OR BLASTING IT WAY TO LOUD IN HEADPHONES

"Headphones with music turned up so loud I can hear it, all of it, and end up singing along because I can't concentrate anyway."

7. NOT DOING WORK

"Colleagues who cue up videos on YouTube and turn their laptop around to let you watch, as you're trying to get some work done or meet a deadline. Close cousin of the YouTube clip is music: office-wide exposure of crap music."

8. DESK PIT STOPS

"It is too common for people to stop by my desk through out the day to talk about absolutely NOTHING."

9. NOT WEARING PANTS

"At my first professional position as an administrative assistant, part of my job was to deliver the mail to all the cubicles. One of them was kind of hidden away in a corner, occupied by a woman who had 'worked' there for the past 35 years. I walked in on her standing in front of a fan, in panties. She said she was 'airing out.'"

10. SCREEN SPYING

"People walk by my desk all day on their way to the printer and they look at my computer screen on the way there. I like to work without spying eyes."

10 Annoying, Irritating, And Absolutely Unbearable Co-Worker Behaviors That You Deal With Every Day

Oh look, your coworker's changing his pants in his cubicle again.

Last week we asked you to share the worst things about working in an open-office. But we also threw in a bonus question:

What annoying co-worker behavior are you forced to tolerate?

In total, we received nearly 200 submissions from fed up readers like you. Many of those (which focus strictly on a dislike of open-offices) have already been featured in an article, published earlier this week.

But what about your co-workers? Those people you are forced to work along side of regardless of how high your cubicle walls.

If there's one thing we learned from your answers it's this: If you trim your toenails at your desk you need to stop. Now. Seriously.

Here for your enjoyment are your most common gripes, distilled into 10 categories:

1. Sighing, whistling, humming, throat clearing, and foot shaking

Donny Downer: He sits a few open desks away from me, and I swear he sighs deeply *every* time he gets an email, as if the very task of working really cuts into his day. He also likes to mumble and use breathy exclamations like "Really?!" and "Maaaaaaaaan."

Humming. I had no idea how much people hum until this job.

Whistling. Dear God please make it stop...

2. Nail clipping

The nail clipping. Yes, nail clipping. I don't know if he had some sort of compulsion, or the fastest growing fingernails known to humankind, but everyday I would hear the inevitable *clip* *clip* *clip.* On a good day, clippings wouldn't fly onto my desk or into my hair. On a bad day..well...

I get hear my co-workers clip their finger nails . . . and toe nails (yuck). I have had someone change their clothes in the cubicle behind me even though we have a secure quiet room.

About once a week, I have to DUCK because my co-worker (who sits approximately 6 feet away from me) decides it's perfectly normal to CLIP HIS FINGERNAILS at his cubicle. I can hear the little nail-bits ricocheting off of various surfaces around our work-space...

3. Eating Smelly Food, And Smelling In General

The disgusting scent of fish at lunch time. We still haven't been able to figure out who the culprit is but I hate them.

The smells in my area are really bad. We have smokers, curry eaters, and nasty farts.

The oppressive smell of the food they eat, almost always something unhealthy.The noise and smell of their various bodily functions.

4. Being A Noisy Eater

Loudly chewing potato chips. Shaking their salad containers for 5 minutes to distribute the dressing.

It is amazing to me how loudly some people eat. Chewing with your mouth open is obvious, but it drives me nuts to be able to to hear someone chew or swallow or slurp.

5. Talking—on the phone, to co-workers, to anyone.

There is a co-worker who knows she is a loud talker. She's admits it yet has no inclination to try and control the volume of her voice. She also strikes her desk for emphasis when she's feeling strongly about something. It is like a monster movie where you look at your cup of water it is rippling to signal danger.

Twiddle-Dee-Know-It and Twiddle-Dee-All: These two sit in desks next to each other. They know all the latest breaking news from TMZ to Huffington Post. Sometimes they share their knowledge with the whole room intentionally, but mostly they just talk among themselves—with megaphones, apparently.

The woman next to me who thinks it's ok to ask questions all day via gchat then poke me on the arm when I don't respond, then rolls her eyes when I have a question.

Talking to significant others on the phone. Scheduling doctor appointments on the phone. Fighting with their kids on the phone. Checking voice messages on speakerphone.

6. Playing Music Softly In The Office, Or Blasting It Way To Loud In Headphones

There's always this guy that pushes our policy to bring your own headphones to its limit by listening heavy metal at max volume. Since he's technically complying to the rules, so he's free to ignore us when we say anything about it.

Headphones with music turned up so load I can hear it, all of it, and end up singing along because I can't concentrate anyway.

Someone has music blaring from headphones so loud I can hear it across the room.

7. Not Doing Work

Trying to work while a five-person Call of Duty battle is underway behind you, trying to research as your co-workers discuss the latest developments in their friends' romantic entanglements, being forced to listen to your coworkers' gossip/crushes/rants when you just want to finish work and go home.

Colleagues cue up videos on YouTube and turn their laptop around to let you watch, too, as you're trying to get some work done or meet a deadline. Close cousin of the YouTube clip is music — office-wide exposure of crap music.

Bros talking about deadlifts while clipping their toenails, throwing balls over cube spaces, dart tournaments between cube hallways and explaining the nuances of Walter White in a volume three times louder than the sound of keyboard typing, air conditioner fans and 6 phones ringing at the same time.

8. Desk Pit Stops

It is too common for people to stop by my desk through out the day to talk about absolutely NOTHING.

Impromptu meetings right next to my cubicle. They block the walking areas and force everyone around to pretend they're not listening. It's rude. Additionally, an open-office environment somehow convinces people that any desk that doesn't have someone sitting in it right then is up for grabs. How many times have I walked in to find someone making themselves at home at my desk?

9. Not Wearing Pants

The "not wearing pants." At my first professional position as an administrative assistant, part of my job was to deliver the mail to all the cubicles. One of them was kind of hidden away in a corner, occupied by a woman who had "worked" there for the past 35 years. I walked in on her standing in front of a fan, in panties. She said she was "airing out."

10. Screen Spying

People walk by my desk all day on their way to the printer and they look at my computer screen on the way there. I like to work without spying eyes.

[Image: Flickr user Sara Zollino]

Add New Comment

16 Comments

  • I have an annoying coworker too...

    everyone is greeting me but not this asshole. If the boss comes in, he jumps up, yells "here you are!" (to the boss) and asks him how he is doing, hello hello... I love you, - then talks for hours about soccer.

    His phone is ringing and then I have always to say to the caller that the (annoing) coworker is not here, he will call you back.

    The coworker who is talking shit about everyone.

    The coworker is loud and talks like on cocaine.

    The coworker is not working all the time. He takes a cigarette break every 30 minutes. (from what?)

    The boss is not doing anything because the asshole coworker is just kissing his ass I guess. They even eat every day together.

    I really hate my job because of this one single coworker... When he is away for vacation or so I really start enjoying my job and life. I wish he was gone. Dear jesus, allah, buddah, please make him disappear.

  • HowToDeal

    I guess I relate most with #1. I have a coworker, who after each email he receives swears or bangs on his desk, spending most of the day bashing the job. It really poison's the work environment, yet nothing is ever done by management. It's gotten to a point where they've rotated everyone who's sat around him until now finally me as I seem to tolerate it the most, but I have my breaking point. Anyone have any advice on how to best address this without snapping and shaking him like a baby, or putting in an elaborate plan to find a new job in another department? Don't want to get him fired in this economy. I understand there are many determining factors for his behavior, stress, i've offered to help him but it's been received negatively.. Thanks

  • Chris Reich

    People seem to be missing the thrust of this article. The slobbing of America is annoying and that annoyance does indeed diminish productivity. It's not necessary to wear a tux but when the staff is wearing sweats and flip-flops, the over casual attire contributes to an overly casual work pace. This, by the way, isn't the only standard that has slipped. People are lazy with language too. And this leads to lazy thinking. You may be in an exceptional environment; I accept that.

  • Walter King Jenkins

    You forgot about the really annoying cell phone ring tone that goes off every 30 minutes.

  • Chris Reich

    All kidding aside, the slobbish behaviors you point out are diminishing productivity. As the dress codes were abandoned, so were the codes of conduct. The lax behavior that comes from lax appearance bleeds into lazy workmanship and poor customer service.

  • NickC

    You obviously haven't visited Nike. I was there for four years, and rarely wore slacks (mostly jeans), and never wore a tie. Most of my managers and even senior leaders regularly wore (and still do... I still have many friends who work there) sweats, work-out gear (and not after coming back from the gym either), and shorts in summer. Yet, they are some of the most productive, talented, and interesting people I have worked alongside. Just goes to show you, productivity and talent have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with what you wear. Let's judge people on what's in their minds and hearts rather than what's worn on their bodies, shall we?

  • Omar Khafagy

    Your ability to visit 100 businesses a year has no relation to the validity of your behavioural analysis.

    When you make a strong claim about a correlation, don't be surprised when someone asks you to support it.

    How do you know that lax behaviour comes from lax appearance? A punk in a suit is still a punk.

    Why can't it be the other way around? Couldn't it be that lax behaviour causes lax dressing standards?

    Have you looked at other possible contributing factors? If so, how have you ruled them out?

  • Michele Martin

    Dress code has nothing to do with it. Some of the most productive and hardest working people I know are designers...and guess what, they wear jeans... to work... GASP!

    Mind you, they aren't wearing ripped filthy jeans, more likely high end denim that costs more than the average pair of slacks, but the point is... judging a book poorly solely because it doesn't "look" like all the other books... all neatly lined up in a parochial school style mass uniform of "office apparel" is absolutely short sighted. If you always want to be the same and do the same ... then have lemmings. If you want innovative thinkers and hard workers, hired talented intelligent people and don't make them wear a suit and tie or skirt and heels to work if their job does not require it. It's counterproductive to creating a great company culture.

    Besides, some of the most disgusting and annoying people I have worked with in corporate america wore suits, every day. Their shoes were polished. They "appeared" very professional, yet were some of the most offensive co workers I have had, hiding behind their uniform.

  • Chris Reich

    Michele, you start by saying that dress code has nothing to do with it and then say that the jeans are neither ripped nor dirty. I see both in many work places. I also see sweats and flip-flops and gym shorts. I see these things because I go to many businesses in my work.

  • P Mort

    Anecdote is not data. Especially when it is likely clouded in your own personal bias.

    How in this day and age someone still judges work output by one's appearance is baffling. For example, you seem decently dressed in your avatar, but you still come off like a pompous ass, so there's that.

  • Chris Reich

    I did not intend to supply data. I do not judge work output by appearance. I see crappy output from slobs. That's a correlation. American standards of work quality has deteriorated as have American standards in general. One need merely look around to see how slovenly people have become. I find it silly that there is such a strong defense for being a slob.

  • Michele Martin

    Not having a dress code does not mean anarchy immediately occurs and the world falls apart and people become slobs. Because there is not a dress code does not automatically equal slobbish lack of productivity, which is what your first comment implies. Because someone is not in a suit and tie does not then mean that they will not give 210% and the best customer service that any of us may have ever had.

    You are not the only person here to be experienced with many different workplaces, visiting client offices, etc. What you refuse to see though is that the person in gym shorts might have just come from the gym, having taken a break in their day to refresh their mind, something they do because they work 14 hour days, 6 days a week. Meanwhile, the person in that suit, who works 9-5, only does enough to get by and lacks drive or initiative, you are judging to be the better employee based solely on a judgement of appearances.

    Done with this dialogue because I know, from reading your other comments and responses, that you only see through your own lens. Good day.

  • Heather

    I don't know, I work in a causal office (dress code-wise) but there is still an expectation of professional presentation and conduct. Sure, we might be wearing jeans, but we still are expected to present ourselves well. This may be because I'm in a creative industry, however. I can't speak for people who work in more corporate organizations.