27 September 2023

Pain relief: How to know if we’re annoying our colleagues

Start the conversation

Jane Burnett* says there are many ways we could be annoying our colleagues, even if they haven’t told us yet.

Photo: Renphoto

When people work together in a shared space, team dynamics can shift at the drop of a hat because of one person’s behaviour.

That being said, here’s a roundup of seven ways you could be annoying your colleagues, even if no one’s told you yet.

Not responding to a co-worker who just greeted you

We get it, we get it: You had a bad morning commute, so now you’re in a bad mood.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore someone who acknowledges you at work — especially when the person knows you heard them.

We also shouldn’t need to tell you that you should always greet people working in service jobs around your office, but a quick reminder can’t hurt.

Taking out your bad mood on other people

Research has found that witnessing rudeness in the morning can mess up the rest of your day, but that doesn’t make it OK to treat your colleagues as badly as you feel.

So, keep your angry comments to yourself, and try not to wince every time someone greets you with the happiness and motivation that’s slipped through your fingers at the moment.

Constantly leaving a stack of papers on the printer

It’s fine if you occasionally forget to clear out a few of your papers in the nearby printer, but what you don’t want to do is frequently leave behind sheets … and sheets … and sheets of them for everyone else to deal with.

This can make it really difficult for the next person with a big printing job and a tight deadline.

Your papers, your responsibility.

Leaving food and drinks behind after meetings

The same goes for conference rooms.

If you’re lucky enough to have catered food and drinks during a work meeting, you should always pick up after yourself.

Even if the cleaning staff comes by after hours, it’s never appropriate to leave waste behind.

So, if there’s no rubbish or recycling bin around when the meeting ends, find one.

Make their jobs much easier because you can.

Blasting loud music through your headphones

If everyone around you can hear what you’re listening to at work, there’s a problem.

How are people supposed to get the silence they need to work when all they can hear is the latest album you’ve been obsessing over on repeat?

Open office plans don’t always make this feasible.

If your music is crazy loud to you, chances are, it’s crazy loud to everyone else nearby.

Looking through people you’ve met before, instead of at them

There’s a difference between being in a hurry and acting like someone you repeatedly see around the office doesn’t exist.

All this does is make you look too aloof to care about who’s around you.

So open your eyes.

If you don’t know the person, you don’t have to automatically become best friends, but at the very least, making eye contact should make the other person feel like they’re not a ghost.

Chewing too loudly

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

That apple probably tastes really good right about now, but you’re going to need to find a way to be a little quieter when you eat at your desk — especially if everyone around you is silent.

You can’t avoid the rustling that happens when you pull open a bag of chips, or the sound your lunch delivery boxes make when you unpack them, but if you keep it to a minimum, you should be better off.

Everyone has to do basic things from time to time — like open drawers and use a stapler — but if you exercise caution when it comes to your volume level, your colleagues will be less likely to complain to you about it.

* Jane Burnett is a Thrive Editorial Fellow and reporter for The Ladders. She tweets at @JaneBurnett16 and her website is janeburnettmedia.com.

This article first appeared at www.theladders.com.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.