Are You THAT Co-Worker?

We are part way through the winter season, and for most of us, that means we are trapped in the office due to inclement weather. This can make annoying co-workers even more of a nuisance when you cannot go outside to escape them for awhile. Don’t be THAT co-worker, the one that everyone complains about. Here are some of the more annoying office behaviors you should avoid:

*Being a space invader. Open work spaces promote people moving about and collaborating on work projects. However, it can also feel like an invitation to drop unannounced into a co-worker’s cubicle, to rearrange their stuff or to borrow their scissors because they have “the best pair.” I had a co-worker who used to chew on his fingers until they bled, and then he would type on my computer. In a case like this, you need to be polite, but firm. There are some behaviors you just cannot put up with and your co-worker needs to be put on notice.

*When Febreeze just isn’t enough. Air handling systems in office buildings sometimes aren’t what they should be, and odors can get trapped in an open office space. Rules for using the office microwave should be posted, and you should not be microwaving smelly salmon at lunchtime. Make sure you throw away leftover lunch items in the office kitchen area. Even fast food wrappers start to smell when they are thrown away in a waste basket near a heater.

*Extraneous or loud noises. Gum-cracking, sniffing, snorting, pulling at your lip or picking your teeth all create noises that seem to get amplified by a quiet office. They are even worse when you are on a conference call. Use the mute button for conference calls, and keep the noise down when everyone is busy working.

*I can still see you and you are gross. Some people think that sitting in a cubicle hides their gross behaviors such as passing gas, picking their noses, leaving used kleenex and dental floss on the desk, chewing and discarding fingernails –and a real hot button– swiping a co-worker’s favorite coffee mug, using it and then “just rinsing it out” and putting it back. People walking by or peering over the group of cubicles get treated to a view of all of these things.

*Can you hear me now? Really? How about now? Cell phones are a big distraction at work — not just the calls, but co-workers fiddling with the mp3 player to bring up that playlist that they just cannot seem to find. The alarm going off that they forgot they set or the annoying ringtones that are different for each caller can drive everyone one in the office crazy. The worst offenders are the people who bring their cellphones into the shared office bathroom. Your caller does not need to hear others using the restroom, and the users really do not want to hear your “personal” conversations.

*Now hear this. Now a word about the speakerphone. The speakerphone feature on your office phone is a convenient feature when you need several people nearby to hear the full conversation. However, dialing a number on speakerphone and then making the whole office listen to the answering machine message on the other end replete with disco music is plain obnoxious.

Watching for and eliminating these annoying office behaviors may prevent you from becoming THAT co-worker who is talked about around the water cooler. And if you have a co-worker who is driving you crazy, don’t worry. Spring is just (hopefully) around the corner.

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