Oh, the humanity
We'd all be tremendous team players if it weren't for our coworkers.
That's one of the things about work: We inevitably find ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder with a cast of characters we might not otherwise encounter elsewhere in our lives. That's usually -- emphasis on usually -- a wonderful thing. We get the chance to meet and learn from new people and develop relationships that last long after we stop working together. When we discuss the importance of professional experience, we tend to forget how much of that experience is created by other people. Even people who initially rub us the wrong way can become great allies, partners, and friends.
But this is the real world, and it's populated by real human beings -- and not a one of them is perfect. We've all encountered coworkers that we could do without. They're not necessarily "bad" people -- they might be real sweethearts, even, and it's just as likely that it's a "me" problem as it is a "them" problem. Still, these coworkers drive us bonkers with their strange habits, idiosyncrasies, and apparent lack of even a modicum of self-awareness.
We covered one strain of this phenomenon recently with our cardinal sins of workplace fashion. As more than one reader pointed out, though, appearance and attire choices aren't the only way to offend in the office. No, there are many, many methods for annoying, exasperating, and aggrieving, and some people seem to have quite a knack for it. And they probably don't even realize they're doing it -- or they do, and they simply don't care.
No matter, that's what we're here for -- to shine the bright, harsh light of truth on the personalities, tics, tendencies, and behaviors we'd like banished from the modern work environment. Maybe you'll see a familiar face or two in the crowd here; maybe you'll see one in the mirror. That's okay -- we've all got things we can work on. Stop flossing your teeth at your desk, for instance -- that'd be a huge leap forward for you and for your coworkers. That's not what the dentist meant when she said you needed to take better care of your pearly whites. No, the conference room isn't your personal "command center" -- and, yes, we have it booked for a meeting right now. And, please, understand there's a difference between eating lunch at your desk and auditioning for an upcoming episode of Chopped.
Workplace quirks can be particularly rough for those who work in cubicles or open offices. They rarely come with doors and the "walls" are more like low-slung fences. Sound travels easily, from one neighbor's music ("This isn't bothering you, right?") to another's incessant personal calls ("I love you, schmoopie. No, you're schmoopie!"). Smells do, too -- smelly people, smelly food, you name it. Sure, it's your desk -- but it's our office, and most of us would prefer it not reek.
IT professionals might suffer more than most from coworker peccadilloes. Not only does IT endure all the ordinary oddities and nuisances, but it gets to play the role of de facto tech support for those oddities and nuisances, too. Because everyone who works under the big banner of IT is a walking helpdesk, right? Oh sure, these data visualizations I'm working on for the executive team can wait while I troubleshoot your family's Xbox.
Read on for our All-Star Team of Annoying Coworkers. It's a 10-person lineup and, to be honest, we could have kept going. People provide great fodder. We'd rather hear from you, though: Which office types drive you batty? Surely, we missed some workplace irritants here. Tell us about them in the comments.