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The 15 Most Annoying Co-Worker Behaviors

For the most part, you don't pick your co-workers. Even if you did, it'd be hard to see through the veneer of professional behavior most folks put on for a job interview, and sniff out the future popcorn-burners and nail trimmers. Worst of all, unlike with irritating personal acquaintances, there's no avoiding the people who drive you crazy at work. If you dodge their calls and emails for too long, it's your career that suffers.

For the most part, you don’t pick your co-workers. Even if you did, it’d be hard to see through the veneer of professional behavior most folks put on for a job interview, and sniff out the future popcorn-burners and nail trimmers. Worst of all, unlike with irritating personal acquaintances, there’s no avoiding the people who drive you crazy at work. If you dodge their calls and emails for too long, it’s your career that suffers.

annoyed 

(Photo Credit: Travis Isaacs/Flickr)

No wonder, then, that we got such a whopping response to our Facebook post, asking people to write in to describe the most annoying things their co-workers have ever done. Here, in no particular order, are the top (or bottom) 15:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. Nail salon, office park … six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Who clips their nails at work? Everyone, it seems. Several people wrote in to describe this oddball co-worker behavior.

“I also had a coworker who would clip his nails in his cube,” writes Jessica. “My friend who sat near him would find little flung clippings on her desk. Yuck! This same guy also looked at questionable material on his computer, for all to see.”

So that’s the real issue: first it’s fingernails. Then it’s treating the company computer like the laptop in your man cave. Of course, sometimes it’s worse than just clipping the nails.

“Clipping nails, sure,” writes Danilo. “But one time I moved into the office previously occupied by the nail clipper, and found the little pencil tray in the center desk drawer full of his nail clippings.”

Bonus points, as well, for Nancy, who wrote in to say that her co-worker clipped his toenails at his desk. That’s some next-level co-worker grossness.

2. I can haz new co-worker?

“I had a co-worker who spoke only in meme,” writes Sarah. “Seriously, it was all, ‘I can haz’ and ‘let’s go get some noms.’ I kind of wanted to punch her on a daily basis. Also, one guy who only ate tuna for lunch. Every day. And put it in the microwave. In an open-plan office. And let’s not forget about the one guy who wore a hat every day. That guy … never used the Oxford comma.”

The lesson here: don’t annoy the editor. She is judging you.

3. Two tickets to the gun show.

“I worked with a guy that would walk around and flex his muscles for everyone to see,” writes Tim. “Not in a sly way — there’d be gym stories to accompany his inappropriate calf exhibition.”

Gym stories. Possibly the only personal anecdote less interesting than a story about a dream you had, that doesn’t involve the listener.

4. Blah, blah, blah.

Several people wrote in to say that they were over co-workers who talked when it was working time.

“Just too much talking,” Jessica writes. “I’d say someone who talks too much is worse than anything. No, I don’t want to hear the backstory to the story you’re going to tell me about this thing that happened to your friend’s sister’s cousin.”

Cynthia mentioned co-workers who followed her into the office first thing on a Monday morning, ready to talk shop … before she even had a chance to put her purse down.

5. Co-Worker McGee, Unlicensed Private Detective.

“I worked with a guy who read through my computer after I left for work … told our shared assistant that she could no longer work for me … and much more,” writes Susan. “But I got even: I got him fired.”

Sometimes, the issue isn’t as much snooping as it is lack of respect for boundaries. Kimberley writes that one of her co-workers “used her master key to let herself into my office when I had a do-not-disturb sign posted and she could see through the window that I was on a conference call.”

6. Groomzilla.

“I had to listen to my superior, who was getting paid much more than me, do nothing but plan his wedding and new house for six months while he did no actual work for work,” writes Lisa.

7. Because he’s happy.

“We’ve got this ambassador of happiness jackwagon who rolls through the office loudly whistling the Mickey Mouse theme song,” writes Bryce. “He stops at EVERY EFFING DESK and won’t leave until you ‘give me a smile.’ I’ve taken to calling my cell phone and sitting there, office phone to ear and apparently engrossed in my computer screen when I hear the rodent music coming. Once, he caught me away from my desk and playfully poked me in the ribs. I wished dark things upon him that day.”

Bottom line? “My happy is not your happy, Chuckles! Move along.”

8. Stinky food.

A few folks cited smelly lunches among their co-workers’ worst crimes. The winner?

“Hot broccoli and tuna salad for lunch,” writes Scottie. “Almost every day. No. Just, no.”

Karen adds that gross-smelling food can be worse, depending on the situation of the person who’s smelling it.

“[A co-worker] once ate lunch at his desk right next to me when I was in the very odor-sensitive part of being pregnant,” she says. “Fried octopus. Yup.”

9. Do you ever get that feeling like you don’t even exist?

“My desk was right next to the conference room, so whenever they needed an extra chair, they would steal mine, if I wasn’t at my desk,” writes Doris. “It was all different people at different times.”

10. You make a better door than a window, but we’ll use you as a window all the same.

“Open plan offices make people into inconsiderate [bleep-bloop],” says Chris. “People routinely decide that meetings are to be held next to my desk. Some people on each side, speaking over/through me.”

11. Who needs privacy?

A few readers wrote in to say that their co-workers had sensitive conversations about their health and private lives in the middle of their open office.

“I once worked near someone who would constantly have conference calls on speaker with his door open,” says Molly. “Dial tones are now a trigger for me. I also sat next to someone who would loudly make personal phone calls all day — doc appts, etc. I heard his credit card number so frequently I was tempted to use it. The best call, however, was when he broke up with his shrink. I don’t think I can work in an office ever again.”

12. I guess this cube is his territory now.

“A co-worker smuggled her puppy into the office every day for about a week,” writes Jenn. “The puppy was still learning to pee outside, and it decided that my cube (about 10 feet from hers) was sufficiently ‘away’ from hers to use as a toilet. When I pointed this out to her, she laughed.”

13. Work time is her time.

“I had a co-worker who was very into reverse telecommuting,” writes Elizabeth. “That’s where you go to work to do all your personal chores. I’d listen to this person loudly open envelopes in the morning with mail brought from home and then spend a good chunk of the day on a series of personal calls.”

14. Air pollution.

“I once had a coworker who applied perfume in a massive cloud of stink,” says Elizabeth. “I could tell the exact spot where she sprayed it on. I had to walk through that spot to get to my desk. Gag.”

Then again, one of Cynthia’s top complaints was that her co-workers said her perfume gave them asthma. Can perfume/non-perfume sections of the office be far behind?

15. Safety first.

Finally, this list of co-worker crimes should make office workers feel better about perfume wars and too much chitchat.

“I work in construction, so it’s hard to find the ‘worst,'” writes Joshua. “Was it the guy who showed up black-out drunk at 9:30 a.m. and almost shot someone with a nail gun? Was it the plasterer who used to give me unsolicited art advice in between fighting and speaking high-school level French to his girlfriend/assistant? Was it the racist electrician? Was it the guy who played the best of Van Halen on his jobsite radio EVERY DAY FOR WEEKS? They’re all winners!”

Tell Us What You Think

What co-worker behavior drives you crazy? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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62 Comments on "The 15 Most Annoying Co-Worker Behaviors"

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Sophia
Guest

I sit between two people who clear their throat NON STOP. They cough, choke, snort up their snot, like there is nothing wrong it with. People with nervous throat clearing tics should be moved to the basement….

Haley
Guest
I started an internship recently. The office is set up so that there are two or three people in each room. The girl I am in a room with loves to talk. About everything; her kids, husband, siblings, workout, and ESPECIALLY how healthy she is. I could handle this, if she didn’t say like 4-10 times a sentence! She is a 30 year old woman with 2 kids and she cannot form a sentence without at least 4 likes in it. On top of that, she SMACKS HER GUM. Loudly! There have been days where I am so annoyed with… Read more »
LM.
Guest

Um, how about the person who emails you, prints out the email, and then walks over to tell you about it?! Stab. Stab. Stabstabstabstab.

Sandeep
Guest

If it’s a boss or a senior….. watch out. Something’s up.

none
Guest

I work in an office of graphic designers. There’s this one guy who just has to sneeze 4 to 5 times a days very aggressively WITHOUT covering it up. I’m talking germs flying everywhere, FROM ACROSS THE ROOM mind you! I could just be a germaphobe or he could just be a gross guy. Almost as bad as the smoker who sits in front of me and swallows his nicotine laced snot all day. I just need people to be more considerate.

Beethoven
Guest
My 300 lb coworker would spend her day on the phone making personal calls. When she wasn’t on the phone she was instant messaging her friends in the office. She would help herself and take things from my desk even though I asked her to stay away. She would come to work early and go through my desk stealing snacks and snooping through my belongings. Finally she would eat so much junk food that she would throw up and pee all over herself! She would actually walk out of the bathroom and go back to her desk with her pants… Read more »
Havas SF
Guest

I sit opposite a girl who is constantly pulling sections of her long hair, and putting them in her mouth. Tips first, then she wraps long sideways pieces across her face and into her mouth. The girl next to me talks in Vocal Fry. I’m not sure half the women in our office know what vocal fry is, or that is is not cool, it is unprofessional and unpleasant. I’m on edge, people.

Karen
Guest
There are other traits that are more common. They don’t make people bad employees, but they will make everyone hate you: 1.) People who answer questions that were specifically directed to other people (who often have no idea what the correct answer is.) Please do not answer questions that are specifically directed to another person. It is not helpful or useful. 2.) People who interrupt your question in a meeting to give a synopsis of the conversation that you were just a part of (because, if you are asking a question to clarify what we just decided, clearly that means… Read more »
BuddyLove
Guest
I had a co-worker who did EVERYTHING wrong! Everybody LOATHED his bad habits! One co-worker said “Bob Smith (Not his real name) is so intelligent that if he had just ONE OUNCE of people skills that he could be a vice-president. He picked his nose for hours on end, even in staff meetings. I once timed him at 43 minutes straight. He was fat and ugly and very bossy. He thought that EVERYODY ELSE was the problem, not him. He acted like a bigshot, strutting around all fancy with his briefcase…. He dug his ears with Q-TIps in the office.… Read more »
Private
Guest

My boss talks to herself like a retard all the time. I pointed out this to her couple of times and recently she responded “maybe you need to get a headphone ’cause i cannot stop talking to myself”!!!

Isn’t she crazy?

frustrated co-worker
Guest
These do not even come close to what my boss does everyday. 1. He farts while standing next to you or while you are with him in the work taxi, so much so that you hear the loud sound and yet he acts that there was nothing wrong with it. 2. He doses you with his foul breath every-time he snoops and leans over your shoulder to check what you are working on. 3. He stands and adjusts his underwear in the middle of a serious discussion. 4. He walks out of the men’s room without washing his hand after… Read more »
Shana
Guest

Sounds like a lot of people worry about what other people are doing rather than watching their own lane. Those annoying people are going to be stuck at the bottom while you focus on success. It’s also worth keeping in mind that you probably annoy someone too. No matter how awesome you think you are, there is always someone who thinks your stuff stinks.

Joe
Guest

Speaking of odor… I really hate when people take 15 smoke breaks a day and return to work reeking like they took a bath in an ashtray. They might as well smoke in the office.

Nurse BAM
Guest

How bout the coworker with horrible ill mannered kids, who do unbelievable things. ” I was late for work because my 3 year old daughter was playing in the car last night and left the door open and my battery was dead this morning.” Same woman brings her kids to work place where they tear things apart, pull items out of drawers, toss them all over. When someone mentions the mess, her excuse is, ” oh , they are so tired!”

Ken Awtry
Guest

I work as an inspector for a highway project. I have one co-worker. His office is at the opposite end of the trailer next to the restroom. He will go take a leak without closing the door. He will also be on his cell phone and tell his other colleague that he needs to go to the restroom and will still be talking to the person on the phone while taking a leak!!
He also dips snuff and it’s irritating having to sit in his office while he spits and I have to see that gross stuff and smell his breath.

Chris Doeller
Guest
I work in a small wood working shop, the shop is next to the company office. While we, in the shop are spending most of our day trying to bring in revenue, the three office workers are chattering away with high drama, gossiping, chattering, on the phone, with personal calls, and making many trips to the bathroom, which is through the shop. To ad insult to injury stand at the outside open door to smoke, because it is too cold to stand outside. When I ask friends, who work in office environments, about this behavior, they say its the norm.… Read more »
Cris
Guest
I work in construction with electricians. I don’t get to work with other women in this field very often, with the exception of one woman. I seem to end up “chained” to this woman on most of the projects I work on. I use the word “chained” because this woman is the supervisor’s wife whom I almost always seem to end up with on various projects throughout the US. She’s expressed to her husband how much she likes working with me ( or at least that’s what she’s told me). However, I cannot stand to work with her. I have… Read more »
rach
Guest

i work with a secretary in her mid 50’s who acts like a child. in fact she talks like that annoying lady in ‘Office Space’. she reminds me of the annoying sister i never had….she imitates the exact words that i say and competes with me in a sense that when i take off from work she has to take days off soon afterwards.

Georgia Hitchkens
Guest
I work in a small open office space with just 1 other person and he is one of the most emotionally immature (dramatic), and noisiest people I’ve had the challenge to work alongside of. constantly humming, or singing a riff. Added to this very repetitive habit he also refuses to use his headphones so the phone is on speakerphone when the boss isn’t around. He watches videos on his phone and lets out a loud laugh randomly. Makes running commentary on himself or the people he just spoke with on the phone. All in all he is annoying. I gently… Read more »
Tyler
Guest
In the office I worked at, we would have to communicate a lot in order to understand things sometimes, because it was too much to organize we’d have to actually ask each other and nearly 55% of the time someone was asking me a serious question about something that we submitted, rejected, etc. this girl would just turn around and say “OMG BRUCE JENNER BOUGHT A PURSE AND KIM KARDASHIAN SAID SHE LIKES CEREAL!” and this person’s voice was always a few decibels above everyone else. No matter the environment, she’d have to make sure the paramount news or information… Read more »
Shelley
Guest

I have a supervisor that sits 2 cubicles from me … she whistles, sings, talks to herself, burps, sneezes continuously, and blows bubbles with her gum all day! I could strangle her! I so look forward to when she takes vacation!

Me
Guest

I have to hear three different radios blarring music in a language that i dont speak or understand all day all at the same time in one room. They are bilingual but i unfortunately am not. They choose to speak in a language that they know that i wont understand to each other. I hear my name sometimes and they dont bother to fill me in. Rude and annoying.h7

A young man
Guest
I work at Wal-Mart and there is a guy that mostly does nothing. He walks an talks to people and that’s about it. When he does something it’s because one of the assistant manager asked him in person. He’s in the maintenance team and after 1 year and a half i never saw him clean anything, ther others always do but him never. Not only this, but he denounce anyone for even the slightest thing ( One guy once said that one of the female assistant manager was hot and he actually told her and the guy got in trouble… Read more »
skilizzy
Guest
Where do I start? Could it be “Mr. Negativity” who can find nothing positive to say ever? Who spends most of his time on his cell phone skyping prospective girlfriends in Thailand. No to mention the clicking noise he makes with his tongue all day. Every year he wastes everyone’s time fussing over him while he has his annual meltdown and is sure he is having a heart attack. Yes, he has worked here for years and is the owner’s friend so he can not be fired. If someone makes an error on an order he will waste everyone’s time… Read more »
Tired of These Two Women
Guest
Tired of These Two Women
I am in an office that may be about 20 feet by 20 feet with three women crunched in it. One thinks that she is at home and the other seems to have a conversation with herself all day long in addition to both staring at me like I’m a beauty queen! Both are always on personal phone calls. One even puts her fake nails on at her desk and then after that she surfs her phone. Then after that she wipes down our counters, prepare coffee, make conversation with everyone that steps foot in the office and then by… Read more »
Debbie
Guest

My co-worker talks non-stop, even though I ignore her. Eats a bowl of oats with a spoon over a two hr period each morning, spoon clanking on bowl and bowl hitting desk top. Then the noisy water bottle starts, cover snaps loudly off and on, noisy drinking water and bang back on the desktop. This along with the phone and the various sounds. I am the only person around, not sure if to address it or not.

Christy
Guest

A whining and complaining manager. He is a very little man in height and its obvious he needs some serious attention from a woman. I am a woman in an all male environment and my manager complains more than a pregnant woman would. I can see why he does not have a girlfriend. I dont hear whining at home. Why would I want to hear it from a little man at work!

Loloball
Guest

My boss can insert a “funny” story about her “genius” child into any and everything you say! If I hear “Little Bradley”‘s name one more time, I’m gonna hurl!

Mike
Guest
This guy next to me is 73 and says he never wants to quit working. Well, he’s a 73 year-old guy with bad habits. Huge grunt every time he moves. He eats about 7 times per day. Puts his Metamucil in a huge ceramic cup and then stirs it up and eats with a metal spoon. He’s got to make sure he gets out the last drop, too, with his big metal spoon and ceramic cup which he clanks down on his desk like it weighs 50 pounds. Then, he belches and every time he takes a sip of something… Read more »
Anne
Guest

Open office with no cubicle walls…when it is dead silent (for once!!), coworker busts out in random song, singing a line or two for all to hear. Purpose? To be annoying, I’m sure.

ABC
Guest

*screeches

ABC
Guest

A woman in our open office wears headphones and screches Bon Jovi or Christian rock at random ALL DAY EVERY DAY>

Kevin J.
Guest
Regarding “Air Pollution” #14; I had the unpleasant job of managing a body odor employee that came to work for us in the IT Dept. Clearly, he didn’t bathe on a regular basis, or never bothered to use deodorant. Aggravating the problem was his job duties requiring that he trouble shoot computer issues throughout the building! So, we had a talk. It didn’t go well, but we eventually reached a compromise that wouldn’t “stink” for anyone. Pun intended. Long before “reasonable accommodations” were the compliance issue they are today, this man had a severe allergic reaction to anything he put… Read more »
Jane
Guest

A co-worker who is right out of college who thinks he is a big shot, tying to get space reserved for more senior people and who is like a forager eating other people’s food. Has no emotional intelligence but is a friend of the boss.

Jennifer
Guest
I had to work with an employee who didn’t believe in washing daily and never wore deodorant (but she’s wore perfume- can’t use allergies as an excuse). Luckily I didn’t have to sit next to her, but she had an annoying habit of hanging around me asking about paper work. Mondays were bad enough, but at least the stench left when she did. But by Thursday—GOD! I’m not joking when I say you could smell her long before you saw her and the stench lingered for five minutes after she left. I was fairly new in a group of rather… Read more »
J
Guest

I am routinely stalked by someone who literally chases me down in the hallways with inter-office birthday cards that for some reason require my sentiments before they can be handed off to the recipients.

Bobby
Guest
This is why I am self-employed and have my own office. I love my people and none of them are annoying. We get a lot of work done so we can go home to have a life. When I worked in a big office, amazing how much waste there is. Certain employees get away with doing nothing all day and the rest of us are struggling to keep our jobs. Nice to be entitled. There was a brother of a boss who kept getting promoting multiple times until he got the title of Managing Director. The dude knew nothing –… Read more »
patricia
Guest

I can’t stand coworkers who talk about their BF or GF all the time. every sentence, every story, every ‘funny thing’…always ties in
with this person. Sometimes I can’t KEEP my eyes from rolling up
into my HEAD – “here we go again..sigh”

Ma
Guest

This manager in a dept. of mine, worked for 2 years, asking the same damn thing questions for 2 years.
Do they ever learn?
We each have individual room, my boss’ next to mine. But he never closes his door even for conference call. So the whole stretch office would hear…
Annoying…

Chris
Guest

Sitting in an open plan office and a co-worker asks you a specific questions (becuae they used your name when asking) and someone else answers……………….

al kukk
Guest
Hi Patricia. Sounds like your supervisor needs to take management classes. That is the number one no no to management. Sounds like the owner/supervisor/asst manager etc who knows everything but has never had an original idea of their own. They borrow everyone else’s thoughts and claim them to be theirs two weeks later worded differently Know the type well. They also micro manage their staff so no one can get anything completed without their phenomial input which always means you have to do your job wrong twice before you get to do it right the third time. Which was how… Read more »
Ker
Guest
Whistling, humming , singing to a radio station all day, every day … Same10 songs over & over …. Never shutting up for more 3 minutes @ a time. Never and with the loudest voice ever … Talking about herself incessantly seeking sympathy Booming laugh.. At everything, in between talking about herself Sitting between two people, listening to two different radio stations playing the same noises over an over Uses speaker phone always. Spends half a day gossiping and doing personal stuff. Then complains soo busy at end of day. Everyone seems obsessed with food. Cussing. Excessive perfume. There’s more…… Read more »
D Todd
Guest
I hate the popcorn at work thing the most. Not only because I happen to be allergic to corn (it’s a test verified allergy) but it gets messy. Not only is smelling it bad for my personal health but I have yet to meet a popcorn eater who doesn’t drop any. Nothing says professional like the underfoot crunch of popcorn. And that’s not to say what the place smells like! Second least favorite workplace annoyance would be the body marinaters – those that do not realize less (or none) is indeed more when it comes to fragrances.
Seasoned
Guest

Being a seasoned individual and having to work next to young and very immature individuals that constantly talk about trivial, non productive squabblings, makes me want to pull my hair out. GROW UP ALREADY!!!

Meg
Guest
I do agree that there is good in everyone and I just KNOW that these complaints do come from the average office workers. Over time in ANY work environment, specifics about individuals will become annoying, just like when you had to live with your “annoying” siblings at home when you were younger. My complaint is the co-worker, more importantly a brand new employee, who LOVES to provide motherly advice to everyone in the office when nobody asked for her advice. She loves to play suck-up by telling everyone in the office what they are doing wrong at work, or how… Read more »
farflung nail bits
Guest
So, I can tell from Item #1 this column is headed decidedly in a let’s get our male coworkers direction. Le femme are scientifically proven odor sensitive and color sensitive, and its a given that men will grate on those sensitivities with belching, loud chewing, ogre-like appetites and habits. What should be the focus of anger, because I’m sensing that from the rodent-happiness hate-filled speech, is whose grand idea was it to tear down this wall and build and open office where it ought to be?? Thank you, Jane Crawford.. Far from collaborative dream and spirit of cooperativeness, it has… Read more »
sanjay
Guest
Yes I do agree too much of obsession for a particular habit/ behaviour/ mannerism may not go good not only work place but also in casual meetings / outings also , but again we all fail to see one important aspect that we have to live with humans and each of them have something good in them , thus percieve the good in them and tolerate the negative aspects unless they are harming you either mentally or physically , this is only the way that we can live our life to fullest extent , if you start finding fault with… Read more »
S
Guest

I work very hard in a nursing home as a hair stylist. (Ever have to do hair with people sitting in wheelchairs? Hard on the back.) My pet peeve was the activities department where all they would do is cook all day. I’m busting my *** and they are cooking or baking? The new director changed that in a hurry and all the cooking etc is done on the floors by the residents for more interaction. Yea!

Marcoose
Guest

In the old open-space office, desks only, no cubes, this guy had War’s “Low Rider” as his ring tone. Of course, volume at 11 and the phone never at his waist.

Pinkuoni
Guest
Sometimes I clip my nails, because of a hang nail. However, I do it over the garbage can and try to do it when there are a minimum of people (like early in the morning or during lunch when everyone is gone. No one wants to see used clippings. Alternatively, I go into the bathroom. So for that one, I think it’s OK as long as you are considerate around you. I do look at mail at work, but that is a lunch time activity as are personal calls on my cell phone. We have phone booths where I work,… Read more »
patricia callahan
Guest

the one thing that i don’t like about is when your supervisor centers you out and starts to put you down in front of everyone in the place and calls you names for no reason.

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