How colleagues can ruin your day

By Leigh Bramwell

From nose blowing to bullying, some office behaviour is too much to bear.

Annoying colleagues are the main reason many hate their job. Photo / Getty Images
Annoying colleagues are the main reason many hate their job. Photo / Getty Images

One of the nicest things about working alone is that you can indulge all your bizarre idiosyncrasies and there's nobody there to notice.

I have at least three really annoying habits that would drive my colleagues mad - if I had any.

When I'm working on a graphic design, everything that goes through my mind comes out my mouth - aloud. As in: "Yeah, I'm liking that blue. Maybe a bit more green in it though. Yeah, that's cool. And then maybe make the block wider and put the text down the side. Like that. All good." And so on ...

I have a short attention span so I get up from my desk at least every 40 minutes and walk around, do stretches, make tea, change my clothes, phone people for a quick chat and pat the cat.

I can't multi-task. Whenever I'm doing something for my business partner and he's standing beside me giving instructions, I'm going: "Wait, wait, just let me get this number in first - no, be quiet, I can only do one thing at a time. Shut the hell up until I've got this sorted." And finally, on a really bad day: "You do it then."

The annoying habits of co-workers is one reason why the television programme The Office was such a huge hit. Everyone can relate to having a bad boss and annoying colleagues. The people we work with have the power to ruin an otherwise happy and productive work day, and a recent survey conducted by a top UK recruitment firm showed that 33 per cent of employees counted annoying co-workers as the main reason they hate their job, and had considered quitting because of it.

It's not whether the transgressions are major or minor - a boss who loses his temper and shouts insults at you once every six months is in no way as annoying as an office mate who clips his nails at his desk and emits a heavy sigh every time an email arrives.

Others that are high on the list include noisy nose blowing, wearing cheap perfume, constant throat clearing, bad office kitchen manners (heating up fish curry in the office microwave), and over-sharing - particularly by those who are undergoing cleansing diets and want to tell you about the changes in their intestinal health.

The expression "too much information" delivered with a grin is a handy way to stop co-workers talking about their bodily functions.

Computers also have a lot to answer for. How often do your colleagues say any of the following:

'Why is it doing that?'

'Where's the internet gone?'

'Useless bloody thing!'

'Where's the tech guy?'

It's also wildly annoying to have a colleague who hasn't bothered to learn even the basics of the internet.

Q "Um, how would I find out something about the most expensive diamonds in the world?"

A "Google 'most expensive diamonds'."

Q "What is Google again?"

Deal with it by providing a printed list of tutorial sites, or classes in computer skills, and the polite suggestion that he or she might find it really interesting and helpful. At the very least it'll deliver the message that it's not your role.

Most annoying office behaviours are no more than that - annoying - but some are damaging. Gossip, one-upmanship, bullying and subversion are often an intrinsic part of office politics.

Until you've got a handle on it all, observe the following standards:

• Don't gossip, repeat questionable judgments or spread rumours. When a colleague tells you something, take some time to consider how much credibility it has.

• Don't take sides in office arguments.

• Remember you are there to benefit the organisation that pays your wages, so put the company's interests first.

• Maintain personal integrity and professionalism.

• Don't complain, whine or be negative. If there are serious issues that need to be addressed, talk to the person who can fix them.

• Don't rely on confidentiality - assume that everything you tell people will ultimately be disclosed.

I learned the confidentiality lesson several years ago. I had to back out of an assignment at the last minute, which meant certain documentation had to be changed. My boss decided that the official reason given would be that I was pregnant, and assured me that this would appear on just one confidential document.

"Just as well," I told him, "since my husband's had a vasectomy."

Two days after the document was sent, I came to work to find a bunch of flowers and a "congratulations" note from a colleague on my desk.

- NZ Herald

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