Every office has one (or more) of them: The Guy Who Eats Other People’s Food in the Fridge. The Woman Who Won’t Stop Showing You Pictures of Her Cat. The Guy Who Over-microwaves His Popcorn Every Single Time and makes the whole office smell like burnt hair.
These people get on our nerves, ruin our days, even make us dread coming in to the office at all.
But what if you’re “that guy” to your co-workers?
Don’t think it’s possible? Check out this list of common workplace annoyers and see if any of them sound familiar:
The Guy Who Comes in to Work Sick. Yes, you’re a dedicated little trooper for dragging yourself in sniffling and hacking. But think of your poor, defenseless co-workers. Showing up when you’re sick only makes you feel worse and exposes all of your co-workers to your germs.
Stay home, have some soup, and keep that flu to yourself, please.
The Gossiper. I know; you’d never gossip. Most of us don’t think we do; we know it’s mean and childish. But anything you say about someone who isn’t in the room with you qualifies as gossip. Few of us launch secret campaigns against our co-workers, but plenty of us say things like “Guess who took another vacation day?” and “Did you see what Sheila’s wearing today?”
One simple rule to follow: If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, don’t say it behind their back.
The Guy Who Made the Dress Code Necessary. Here are some things you should never display at work, no matter how “business casual” your office is: cleavage, Crocs, holes or tears, sweat pants, jean shorts, tiaras on your birthday (or any other form of overdressing/teenage regression).
There are no exceptions that make these things OK. Just Say No, we all beg of you.
The Guy Who Acts Like a Wannabe Celeb. Unless you’re Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation, you are not being cool and charming by using phrases like “broseph,” “OMG,” or fist-bumping in normal office conversation. Actually, even Tom Haverford is charming only because he’s so ridiculous he’s funny. Take a look at him; he’s a great sitcom character, but would you want to be his cube neighbor 40 hours a week?
The Guy Everyone Else Has to Pick Up After. If the copier runs out of paper on your project, refill it for the next person. Clean up your spills in the break room. It’s common courtesy. Don’t make us tape up the cheesy “your mom doesn’t work here” sign.
The One-Upper. Empathizing with someone’s situation creates camaraderie. We all like to hear that someone knows what we’re going through. But if you find yourself wanting to counter your co-worker’s story about her awful mother-in-law with a story about how awful your family is, reign it in. It’s small talk, not a competition.
The TMI Guy. Have people in the cubes around you asked about your fight with your girlfriend — when you never told anyone about it? It might be a sign you’re not using your “indoor voice” on the phone. And that you might want to conduct sensitive personal calls on your own time.
The Awful Emailer. It’s Email 101: Don’t put the contents of an email in the subject line. Don’t “reply all” at whim. And please, for the love of god, no pink italic inspirational quotes in your signature block. (I trust I don’t even have to mention emoticons.)
The Antisocial Guy. Most of us don’t love grocery store birthday cake or giving long accounts of our weekend activities. But you should at least show up now and then, say hello, or ask how someone’s hobby/family/etc. is going. (If you can’t think of one single hobby, family member, or other personal detail about your co-worker, that’s a good sign you might be this guy.)
You don’t have to be BFFs with everyone, but you spend most of your time with these people; why not at least be friendly and pleasant? It makes the time go by faster — and it makes you easier to work with.
Aack! I Am That Guy!
Are you guilty of any of the above annoyances? The first step to getting better is realizing you have a problem.
You don’t need to find another job or start baking cupcakes to entice your co-workers to like you again. (Another common peeve is people who bring in goodies and throw everyone off their diets, so I’d steer clear of that one.) You just have to be a little more considerate.
Try to be the kind of person you’d want to work with. It’s not that hard, and it’s never too late to start over. At least you’re not Crazy Cat Picture Lady.
Kelly Gurnett, a.k.a. “Cordelia,” runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.