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Irritating Coworkers


8/1/2006 5:19:11 PM


By Cynthia M Piccolo

We all have coworkers who push our buttons. To find out what some of these buttons are, we polled individuals who work in a variety of fields.

And as you read these examples, remember the lines from English playwright John Gay's The Beggar's Opera:

When you censure the Age
Be cautious and sage,
Lest the Courtiers offended should be:
If you mention Vice or Bribe,
'Tis so pat to all the Tribe;
Each cries - That was levell'd at me.

Workplace Ambiance

  • The coworker who constantly – and sloppily – eats at her desk, then wonders why her keyboard doesn't work.

  • The coworker who walks around without shoes, and clips their toenails at their desk.

  • Coworkers who don't wipe up after themselves in the staff kitchen or lunchroom.

  • Coworkers who leave tea bags sitting in the sink in the staff kitchen.

  • Coworkers who leave filthy plates, bowls, utensils, and cups lying around, which offends on a visual, olfactory, and hygienic level.

    The Bathroom

  • The male coworker who uses the single-toilet women's washroom because he thinks the men's washroom is filthy and disgusting.

  • "Anybody and everybody who doesn't wash their hands after using the washroom!"

  • "That person who never flushes the toilet!"

  • The person who pees on the toilet seat.

  • The person who primps in front of the bathroom mirror for an extended period of time, gassing everyone in the bathroom with perfume and/or hair spray, and preventing people from getting to the sink to wash their hands.

  • People who leave hair in the washroom sink.

  • People who are too special to pick up the paper towel that they dropped on the floor.

    Gone With the Wind

  • Coworkers who "borrow" office supplies from your desk, leaving you penless, calculatorless, etc. If they could take your desktop PC, they would.

  • Coworkers who swap office supplies with you – e.g. the person who puts her empty stapler on your desk and takes your full stapler.

  • Coworkers who take the last of anything – brochures from the display, milk or coffee from the kitchen, paper towels – and don't replace it!

    Attitudes Towards Work

  • "When people come in late, but leave on time. Like leaving right on the dot at 5pm. Especially when they had obviously stopped working about 15-30 minutes prior to leaving!"

  • The coworker who is too free with self-disclosure, e.g. "she likes to torture everyone in the department with her tale of woe about how her affair with the married man isn't going well."

  • Coworkers who volunteer to help after the work has been done.

  • Coworkers who don't follow instructions.

  • "Every new contract and permanent hire in our (recruitment) company, which has several dozen employees, wants a corner office. They ask, even though it's obvious that the building has only four corners and the corner offices are occupied."

  • "People who want an office with a window, then keep the window shades down all the time!" The Interpersonally Challenged

  • "People who insist on taking the wind out of your sails by 'one-upping' your accomplishments at work."

  • The coworker who gets in your face (so close you can smell her breath) and invades your personal space, including hugging and touching you.

  • "The coworker who makes fun of everything I say or do. If I cough, she'll mimic it and make additional rude noises. Is that supposed to be funny? Are we in kindergarten?"

  • When the conversation stops as soon as you enter the room.

  • When a coworker doesn't answer questions.

  • When a coworker doesn't listen to the answers given!

  • The apple polisher (to put it politely) coworker with the fake laugh.

  • The coworker who lacks tact, e.g. "Hey – you look like sh*t today. Are ya not feelin' well?"


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