What does it take to get nominated for the Most Irritating Co-worker Award? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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What does it take to get nominated for the Most Irritating Co-worker Award?

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Question: "I opened the office fridge one day last month and found a note taped to my empty grocery bag. Someone was apologizing for eating my sandwich when she realized she'd left hers at home and had become shaky with hunger. Fortunately the situation resolved itself (sort of), but now I really have to know what people say is the most jaw-droppingly irritating thing one of their co-workers has ever done!”  —  Reese, Closed Captioning Transcriber

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori H September 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm

One of my co-workers sent me over the edge on several occasions. He was a VERY loud talker, so everyone had no choice but to hear EVERY conversation. He also made personal calls from the office – even yelling at his kids. And, he would feel free to join in any and EVERY conversation between others in the office.

His desk looked like a tornado had hit it, including papers and files covering every inch of his desk, along with empty food containers and half-eaten apple cores. Every day he would eat soup at his desk with a bowl he kept in his overhead bin, and then replace the bowl into the bin when he was done – without washing it.

Last, but not least, he always had clothes hanging over his recycle bin. It turned out that he was CHANGING IN HIS CUBICLE every morning (yes, without a door). He rode his bike (yes, with “those” bike shorts), changed into his “work” clothes, and hung his sweaty bike outfit on his recycle bin. At the end of the day, he would change back into his bike outfit, and hang his work clothes on his recycle bin for the next day.

I avoided him and his cubicle at all costs!


Julie August 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

When I was much younger I had a coworker who consistently took my whiteout. I got a new one out and put it on his desk. He still did it. I then started hiding the whiteout. He managed to find it until I hid it in a roll of labels. He complained to the boss and the boss basically told me that I should let him take anything he wanted because he was more imiportant than I was. I was there to support him.


Gretchen Dietz August 30, 2013 at 11:21 am

It’s amazing that someone will complain about something so petty especially when you gave him his own. I’ve had the same issues with supplies. One of my co-workers took one of my sharpies and told me I had 2 so why did I care. It shouldn’t matter if I had 50 – maybe I bought them. There was a whole box in the supply cabinet for other employees. That guy probably took food from his siblings plates too!


Rebecca August 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

My petpeeve isn’t with a co-worker, it’s with the cleaning staff. The person assigned to our floor spends at least 15 minutes sitting down and talking about her life problems with each person. Multiply that by the 8-10 people here and she’s just spend 90+ minutes of her day talking. She has a life of drama, talks very loud, and is distracting to the work environment. It’s difficult to brush her off because she is so extremely caring of others. If I’m in another person’s office and she comes in to clean up, she’ll sit down and join, or monopolize our conversation. I’ve gotten to the point that when I hear her coming down the hall, I’ll use that time to do a mail run. She does a fantastic job so it’s hard to criticize her.


Tammi August 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I actually had a co-worker who not only would put her unwanted cups of coffee (ususally at least 1/2 full) with no lid in the trash at her desk but then would empty her 2 hole punch into the same trash can. And this was before we had trash bag liners in the trash can. The janitorial staff finally got tired of actually having to wash out her trashcan almost daily, and started just emptying it and whatever didn’t come out when they turned it over (stuck on holes from the hole punch), just stayed. She had one sticky, gross trashcan, and she didn’t even care. Just plain RUDE behavior.


Lisa September 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Tips for a happy cleaning crew:

I will often work into the early evening and will encounter the cleaning person as he/she goes through their routine. When they come by (and if I am not on a phone call), I refuse to allow them to empty my trash and recycling bins. I would rather help toss the items myself than treat them like a servant which, sadly, happens all too often in some places. NOTE: this can confuse them greatly, especially if they constantly deal with folks like the woman above. One girl giggled every time I tossed my own garbage. I don’t think she knew how to deal with my ‘strange’ behavior.

If my can is messy because I’ve tossed something like an old coffee cup, lunch remains, etc., I will always apologize (and leave a note if I’m not there when they come by). I’ve had them give me extra bin liners to store so I can clean it up myself.

Last December, I hand-delivered holiday chocolate to the cleaning person to thank him for keeping my desk area clean. I would wager he’s never had that happen before as he was so thrilled to have someone think of them. NOTE: This works well with Security and Mail Room folks (who never seem to get the appreciation they deserve). I order a bunch of small boxes of holiday chocolates, cookies, etc. and keep them in my desk for emergency gifts.


Mary Theresa Dietz September 6, 2013 at 3:13 am

Good for you! The cleaning crew needs help and thanks too! You will be remembered.


MDB August 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I have a neighbor who talks and laughs incredibly loudly, all the time. She insists on telling everyone her problems. She belittles her children on the phone, loudly. She’s a horrible person and I do everything I can to be nice, despite the fact that I can’t stand her. When evaluation time rolls around, I think I’m going to ask that she be moved. I can’t handle her inconsiderate nature any longer!


Theresa Kasel August 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm

It would be better to ask that you be moved. Tell your boss that you need a quieter environment to get your work done and stayed focused.

I can almost guarantee you’re going to come across poorly to management if you ask that they move her.


Gretchen Dietz August 30, 2013 at 7:29 am

Theresa – that was a good response, I agree. I sat behind a co-worker like that who never stopped talking and she played her radio really loudly as well. She always had people gathered around her desk talking and it was very hard to concentrate on anything. Thankfully, my boss let me move to another location. Sadly I could still hear her – that’s how loud she was – but a lot less and I had a door I could close. I thanked my boss all the time for letting me move.


Mary Theresa Dietz August 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Wow Gretchen, the only female? I would NEVER clean up after the guys. If you do, you’ll be cleaning up after them FOREVER! I know, I’m married.

I can really relate to Kristin’s comment about people who leave everything for the cleaning staff to clean up. I used to clean office buildings for a living. It is the most thankless job there is! I had a guy who left a cup of tobacco spit on his desk every night for us to throw out! There was a woman who got a really gigantic cup of iced tea every day and as far as I could tell, never drank any of it, but put it in the waste-basket to leak all over the place. One place had a hole punch that was missing its back so the little dots were all over the floor every night for us to clean up. I finally took the thing and threw it in the dumpster.


Rebecca August 28, 2013 at 8:59 am

Unreal, people are so unbelievably ignorant at times. It’s great we have this forum where we can vent though!


Gretchen Dietz August 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I have a lot of the same issues as others – people leaving their coffee cups in the sink for others (most likely me as the only female in the office) to wash. I put a note up saying “Please don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink” so someone left it next to the sink instead! Taking my supplies even though we have a supply cabinet so they can get their own. I also had a candy dish on my desk at one job – it was actually quite a large jar and cost quite a bit to keep filled up. No one was ever happy with the kind of candy in it but no one else bought any to fill it up either. The last straw came when my boss who made a gazillion times more money that I did, put the empty jar on my desk and told me it needed to be filled. I threw the jar in the trash. I had a Partner in the law firm I worked for come and take part of my lunch all the time. I finally started hiding it and she got mad saying I should learn to share. Again, she was making many times the salary I was and could certainly buy her own lunch. I think she thought it was less calories if she took it from other people.


DB August 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I have a cubicle mate who clips his nails at his desk at least once a week. Gross. I once found a nearly full bag of popcorn in the recycle bin. This new employee once went around to people showing them her swollen, red, watery eyes (due to some kind of allergy). I once had a cubicle mate who would literally say “BURP” when he burped…and he never asked to be excused. I once had a coworker who, on a Monday morning as I was quietly filling the coffee pot at the water cooler, got a cold soda from the fridge, and as he walked by me, pressed it to my bare arm and said “Frio,” and walked off. I nearly lost it. Invasion of personal space is a HUGE no-no.


Angela August 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm

The “Frio” guy made me chuckle…quite insane.


Kristin August 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

It ticks me off that employees think the cleaning staff is here to personally clean up after them. It they spill something, they will not wipe it up (which is a hazzard, someone could fall), they leave sugar and spills on the coffee counter, throw toilet paper on the floor, don’t flush the toilet, etc. They have no consideration for their coworkers who come behind them. But yet they’re the first to complain how dirty the place is and that we have ants everywhere.


Hollie August 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm

we experience this as well. very annoying…to say the least!!


anon August 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm

The person in the next cube chews ice with her mouth open. She is also a person who needs to have all attention on her at all times. If something happens — good, bad or indifferent — I have to hear her tell the story 20-30 times a day. Then she can’t understand why she is falling behind on her work. I’ve started listening to my iPod and/or wearing earplugs.


rebecca.1960@yahoo.ca August 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

Pet Peeve: People who use the last cup of coffee and walk away without making a new pot: People who put their dirty cups on the counter instead of washing them themselves (we work in an office where we, the employees, are responsible for coffee making, and upkeep of the kitchen including dishes.
My other pet peeve; Office Bullies and we have one, yells and screams at everyone.


Mark August 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm

My answer is similar to Kim’s. We have a person who will walk right into a closed door office even though everyone has been told this means “stay out”. She won’t knock and wait for a reply. There is a glass wall so she knows the person is either on the phone or with someone, but she will walk right on in regardless of how many times the staff is told to respect closed door privacy. I’ve been interrupted during performance reviews, while discussing with a co-worker a serious illness she didn’t want everyone to know about, during multiple disciplinary meetings, etc. All situations in which privacy should have been expected, but was broken by barging into the office.


Rita September 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Is this person still working there? The confidentiality breaches alone would have gotten that person fired here.


Mary August 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I have a coworker who transports some of my assignments from her supervisor to me. Often, as she retrieves the completed assignments, she’ll reply “Thanks for your help.” as if I’m doing her a favor. I do travel arrangements for her immediate supervisor because we have only designated personel within the company who is permitted to do this. Since she works directly for her supervisor and does not perform this task, in her mind, I’m taking a load off of her. It is so irritating when she does this! There are several things that come to my mind to say, but I can’t think of any that would not be insulting. Not to mention, she passes herself off as a know-it-all. She made the comment one day, “Maybe I should learn to do this in case you are not here.” I replied, “One of the other designees will do it. We are all handpicked.” That felt good to say because it made me feel I was giving her the “Back Off” treatment. Am I wrong? And what should I say when she thanks me so nerve-wreckingly?


Robyn August 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Maybe something along the lines of ‘No thanks are needed; I’m just doing my job!” Said with a smile of course…..


Theresa Kasel August 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I’m confused. She thanks you for doing the work and you’re mad at her?

It sounds like she wants to be able to all she can to support her manager.

You sound like you don’t think your job is all that important and that it only has value if you can somehow put someone else’s work down.

While I think it’s strange that only specified hand picked people can do travel arrangements, your desire to begrudge her learning and being qualified to do something else in the company says a lot about you — and it’s not good.


Mary September 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Theresa Kasel,
Sorry for the late reply, but in response to your opinion of my comments regarding the co-worker thanking me, I should have been clearer on her motives. This is an individual who broadcasts employees’ private personnel information, rambles through fies, has taken files and shredded them without permission, intercepted and opened mail addressed to other employees without putting it back in the envelope to be mailed, etc. She is a busy-body who seeks to gain access to information for some strange reason, only to say that she knows things that should not be repeated. We handle a lot of private government matters in my office, which require loyalty and confidentiality. She has none. This employee is on the verge of being terminated, as soon as their investigations are complete. Sorry I had to paint such an ugly picture for you to see that I am not a bad person. After discovering her behavior, they intentionally prohibited her from doing certain duties.


Heidi August 23, 2013 at 9:53 am

We have an employee who has a severe chemical sensitivity. We posted signs stating that under no circumstances is anyone to use any types of sprays in the building. The President of the company sent out an email stating the same message. This employee could, and has, ended up in the hospital because of people continuing to use air fresheners in the bathrooms.


Rita August 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm

How about this one – – one co-worker was notorious for stealing pens. Most of the time I just ignored it, leaving cheap Bic sticks out for him to “borrow” and “forget” to return. One day, however, he stepped over the line. We had a customer in the office who was filling out some paperwork we needed to process his response to our RFP. Mr Cheapskate co-worker walked up, said, “I need that”, snatched the pen out of our customer’s hand and walked away. The customer went ballistic. That pen, apparently, had belonged to his now-deceased father and was very precious to him. Mr Cheapskate came very close to needing medical attention that afternoon! He did learn a valuable lesson, though. The next time he started to take a pen off my desk, I looked him in the eye and said, “Do I have to call Mr. Customer to have another little chat with you?” He hasn’t taken a pen from me since, although he takes them from others. I guess, at heart he’s just a bully, and you need to stand up to him.


Joyce August 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I use to have a candy basket on my desk for people to help themselves, but one co-worker sitting next to me would look into it and say “there is nothing good in here,” then proceeded to take a piece of candy anyway. Others who took candy who contribute every now and again except for my neighbor co-worker. Yet, she’d say the same thing each day about ½-dz times a day, and never walked away empty-handed. I’d have the “good stuff” in my desk drawer for myself and to use as a “thank you” for those who helped me out. I wondered if I was miscalculating the stash in my desk until I caught her helping herself out of the drawer when I had stepped away.


T. H. August 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

This is an example of why I don’t have a candy dish anymore. People are welcome to come by my desk for work related requests and genuine interaction/catching up (it’s a very professional and friendly environment)… but the candy dish just created too much nonsense like this. No one at my office expected me to have one either. So no loss. No monster dental bills, either. :)


Kim August 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm

We have a co-worker in our office who has a habit of interrupting closed door meetings. He has entered our manager’s office without knocking to ask questions that could have waited until we were available. He even walked into my office, when the door was closed, and interrupted a performance review with my manager. He wanted to borrow a couple of files but I am sure it could have waited. I saw the files on his desk a few days later, asked if I could have them back and he said he hadn’t had time to look at them yet!


liz August 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

This situation started out uncomfortable but persisted into the irritating category. I’d just received my yearly evaluation in my first job out of college. A co-worker started quizzing me on my evaluation results. She’d known me all my life and she’d recommended me for the job. I tried to politely sidestep her questions but didn’t realize what a big deal it was to her. I made the mistake of caving enough to let my overall evaluation score slip. She insisted on comparing our scores in the various categories and said things like “I scored a 4 on this, what was your score?” and “You couldn’t have scored higher than me on this one – I trained you.” If I didn’t answer she assumed I scored higher and she kept trying to see my paperwork. It was awful.


Debra Barrow August 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Had a manager decide that he didn’t like how his executive assistant kept her office….so while she was on vacation and without consulting her,,,he emptied the contents of her office into a meeting room, disposed of some things that she had in the desk which he felt she didn’t need and was very proud of what he had done.
It was without a doubt the most disrespectful thing I had ever seen anyone, much less a senior member of management do to another employee in my 30 years with this company. I wasn’t alone in that opinion, complaints from other workers on the floor went all the way up to the VP of Human Recources.


SK August 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I had a husband like that . . .


Anita August 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Reese, unfortunately, lunch stealing is much too common. I began bringing my lunch in an insulated bag to keep at my desk. One behavior that leaves me in shock is a manager in my department who repeats what someone has said in confidence. This person’s voice is loud, so the information and her opinion about the topic can be heard across the floor. This has been going on for a while, so I can only imagine her superiors don’t think too much about it.


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