How To Drive Your Colleagues Nuts

My favorite sign in many workplace kitchens is: “ Please wash your dishes, your mother doesn’t work here.” Sharing a kitchen with work mates is like sharing living space with a roommate, you are thoughtful and considerate of their space and belongings and visa versa.

Consideration and respect go a long way to building and maintaining peaceful working relationships. These are some of the least appreciated and disrespectful behaviors I’ve uncovered:

  • Don’t interrupt me when I am on the phone, come back later or leave me a note
  • Ask to borrow an office supply, don’t just take mine because you need it.. .and if you take it, return it, promptly
  • If you use the last of an office supply, make sure the purchasing person knows about it
  • Leaving an empty paper cartridge or an error light in the photocopier
  • Leaving crumbs and food stuffs out after making your lunch or snack
  • Putting your dirty cups and dishes in the sink instead of washing them out
  • Refrain from eating smelly food in open spaces or board rooms, yes tuna smells
  • Thinking your priorities are more important than mine
  • Not asking me for a favor just assuming I will do it
  • Asking me to do something, “for me”. I’m more willing to say yes if you ask me to do something, period, not to do something “for you.”
  • Volunteering me for a committee or team event in my absence
  • Snapping gum within 100 yards of my desk
  • Drumming fingers, feet or a pen on your desk as you tap out the beat to “Stairway to Heaven”, or the like
  • Smelling like smoke and wafting it through the office then breathing in my face after a cigarette break
  • Making personal calls throughout the day then complaining you don’t have enough time to finish your work
  • Talking baby talk to your child or boyfriend on the phone in an open pod
  • Playing your IPod so loudly the music leaks out into the quad we share
  • Asking for favors but never offering any back
  • Relying on my organizational skills when you lose things so as to cover your hide
  • Saying “I’ll try” knowing full well you have no intention of trying at all
  • Wearing too much cologne or after shave
  • Body odour
  • Rolling your eyes
  • Saying yes to relieving me or helping me out then cancelling at the last minute
  • Being criticized or told my opinion is stupid in front of my colleagues
  • Throwing items onto my desk, at me
  • Eating my lunch or drinking my drinks out of the company fridge
  • Happy to eat treats brought by colleagues but never bringing anything to share yourself
  • Texting while in a conversation

In a ‘Respect in the Workplace’ seminar, when a participant stated one of the faux pas’s that drove her nuts, her table mate moaned, “I do that all the time, ahhhhh!” With some people it is not enough to say, ‘use common courtesy’ or ‘do unto others.’

If there is a behavior that is really upsetting to you, approach the offender calmly and with a kind tone, mention the behavior and how it is making you feel and ask for what you would like to happen next time.

When you do…
I feel…
I’d appreciate it if next time you would…

At the end of the day, treat your workspace and office environs like you are a guest, not the owner.

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It