dealing with annoying coworkers

I’m quoted in this Fox Business News article on how to handle various types of annoying coworkers. I talk about dealing with know-it-alls and non-stop talkers.

(This interview occurred before I learned about coworkers who leave their nail clippings on your desk.)

{ 89 comments… read them below }

  1. Richard*

    I’ve shared an office with a ‘Talk Your Ear Off’ coworker before. Bringing it up with them didn’t stop it either; they were incessant on constantly talking about topics that had no interest to me, and continued to try to talk to me about them even after I explicitly told them that I honestly didn’t care. All while I was trying to work.

    In the end, I dealt with it by buying a pair of noise cancelling headphones, and listening to music as I worked; I couldn’t hear them any more, and I was able to work in peace. This may not be an option for everybody if your workplace doesn’t allow you to listen to music at your desk, however.

  2. Anonymous*

    I’ve also shared an office with a woman who talked non-stop, and usually about medical issues. There was absolutely nothing she would not talk about. At first it annoyed me to no end, but after a while I let it go and would join the conversation. After all, we had to spend eight hours together every day. However, like I said, she had no boundaries so I had to be careful what I told her because next thing you know, she’d be blabbing it to the world, which could be used to your advantage if you wanted to leak some info.

    Currently I work with a nail biter and spitter. Gross. He doesn’t even try to disguise it.

  3. Anonymous*

    I had a woman in my office who talked non stop about….nothing. And it was literally non-stop…you couldn’t even have a conversation with her! The best was after a 5 minute ramble about who knows what when she said “look at all the condensation on my water bottle! That’s crazy isn’t it? It’s not even warm out! I wonder why? Maybe because I freeze it first? I do that so it’s cold all day and I don’t have to refill it. Sometimes I forget to freeze it and it’s so annoying because the water cooler is so far away I don’t like to refill it but I simply MUST have cold water! I just can’t drink room temperature water.”


    I eventually brought my iPod earbuds and wore them whenever I was at my desk…I just tucked the end into my pocket so it looked like I was listening to music.

    1. Anonymous*

      I work with a woman who always, and I mean always, tells every story three times. And yeah, I only survive by listening to meditation music podcasts on my computer.

      1. Phideaux*

        I think I work with her husband. He’ll tell you what he needs to say in the first 5 minutes, then spend the next 30 minutes re-hashing the same thing over and over again. Fortunately, he recognizes this flaw in himself, and if you tell him to stop talking and go away, he does just that and doesn’t take it personally.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I find this so interesting. On one hand, what more can you ask of someone than knowing their own flaws and not being offended when you tell him to stop … on the other hand, this is such a weird thing to know about yourself and not make a point of reining in.

    2. Anonymous*

      Ahhh…annoying co-workers. I will never understand why Common Office Drones (also known by their scientific name, Cubiclaeus Dwellerium) are forced to don khakis, cardigans and other suitable corporate-casual wear, commute long distances, often through rain, snow and other weather calamities, to large buildings with greyish-beige interiors, pseudo half-walls and depressing kitchenettes where sad muffins are eaten, only to stare into a computer for eight hours or more a day where their work can be done with very little human interaction, other than that which is conveyed through pixels on their screen or the occasional use of a telephone.

  4. Jamie*

    I understand people wanting to go green – but those who print on the backsides of paper and then leave them for you without drawing a slash through the scrap side.

    Of course these are the same people who wouldn’t waste a post it note to tell you who left it, or what they would actually like you to do with the report, or whatever, that they just anonymously left on your desk.

    And no, the relevant information isn’t always facing up – that would take all the fun out of trying to solve the mystery.

  5. Jamie*

    The constant talkers are horrible, but don’t bother me as much as the whistlers.

    Whistling is like nails on a chalkboard to me, followed closely by those who sing in the office.

    Maybe I just hate cheerful people. That’s entirely possible.

    Also, people who bring crunchy food to eat as they stop by my office to ask for something. Eat before you come in here, especially if you want a favor. Your odds of getting a yes are much greater if you aren’t crunching on kettle chips while you’re asking.

    If you must eat in my office there is one item on the list of approved foods: marshmallows. The quietest food in the world.

    People who stand so closely when I’m fixing their computer that I can feel their breath moving my hair. Take two giant steps back, please. Also “this will be a few minutes” is code for “go find something to do and stop staring at me while I correct whatever you did to screw up your machine.”

    Men who use the ladies room “because it’s cleaner.”

    I need to stop typing – I could ramble all day.

    1. Phideaux*

      Right outside my office is a group of cubicles, and there use to be a whistler there. He would whistle all day, show tunes, TV theme songs, commercial jingles, Bohemian Rhapsody, you name it. And it drove me absolutely nuts! I had discreetly asked some of his cube neighbors if it bothered them as well, and they said no, it didn’t. I don’t know which was more annoying, him whistling, or the fact that it didn’t seem to bother anyone else.

      One day, I happened to browse upon an office etiquette website, and someone had posted a rant about the office whistler. I printed it out and taped it to his monitor screen one evening after he left, and I never heard another peep from him. He has since left the company to greener, and presumably more tune tolerant pastures.

      1. Jamie*

        Bohemian Rhapsody? It’s possible the greener pastures he moved to was my office. Our whistler made me hate that song, which I once loved.

        And YES – the biggest irritant of all is other people not being annoyed by clearly annoying behavior!

      2. Penal Colony*

        I have the worst whistler here. The worst, ever. Don’t believe me? It is absolutely compulsive with him, and I don’t think he’s entirely aware he’s doing it.

        A few years ago I was on a business trip with this guy in Chicago. At the time, I had the ringtone on my phone set to “Who Can it Be Now” by Men at Work. Clever, right? Ok anyway, this guy and I were in a taxi coming back from dinner, “Who Can it Be Now” starts playing, so I answer my phone. It was my dad, calling to tell me that my grandmother had just died. Unable to prevent myself from crying, I pre-emptively announced to my coworkers in the cab “that was my dad, my grandmother just died.”

        Whistling guy makes a cursory “Wow, sorry about that buddy,” and spends the last 10 minutes of the cab ride whistling the chorus to “Who Can It Be Now”, off in his own little world while I’m trying to contain my grief.

        I do not like this guy, and I still have to listen to him whistling every single day.

    2. SME*

      My boss’s boss’s boss whistles constantly, and she visits our office two days out of five. Just shoot me now!

    3. Anonymous*

      Ahhh…chip eaters. I stay sane by giving all of the annoying co-workers little pet names that I say inside my head every time I see them:
      Miss Chip Eater
      Mr. Lip Smacker
      Ms. Sad Muffin-Eater
      Mr. Smiley Asian Dude with the Super White Teeth
      Mr. Bobble Head
      Mrs. Tea Slurper
      Miss Pee-Pee Pants
      Ms. I Fax Everything
      Mr. Butt-Scratcher
      Ms. I Don’t Wash My Hands After Taking a Big Crap
      Mr. Pompous Jerkface
      Miss Stiletto Stomper
      Miss Bathes in Perfume

      1. Jamie*

        Since this post I’ve been keeping a little list of annoying behavior to amuse myself…an unexpected collateral benefit has been that those behaviors are less annoying when I see them as another item I can add to my collection of asshattery.

        Kind of like a weird sociology experiment…like when Ron Swanson went to Grain and Simple for the same reason other people go to the zoo (any Parks and Rec fans?)

        My favorite? People coming into my office and browsing through the equipment I keep on a set of shelves asking, “Is this stuff for anybody?”

        Yes, the IT department is exactly like a small yard sale, or the tech aisle at Wal-Mart. I buy network switches, routers, and extra internal hard drives just so everyone who comes into my office can leave with a lovely parting gift.

        Also, stopping me from entering the ladies room, as my hand is on the door knob, to ask me for the first time about a particularly complex and involved query you need. Perfect timing – you now have my full attention.

        Asking me if for an “extra” monitor (because, as we know, all computer equipment and peripherals are “extra” and not assigned on the basis of need) because “a lot of other people have two.” Explanations that anyone with multiple monitors is in engineering or IT and it’s based on need is met with complaints about that not being fair.

        Because fair would certainly be to give dual monitors to everyone who uses a computer for minimal access to the network – so they don’t have to minimize their youtube video in order to check email.

        Keeping a running list totally takes the sting out of stuff like that. Kind of like posting here – free therapy for workplace stress!

      2. Anonymous*

        Love it. I only have three that I deal with

        Mrs. Child Birth Reteller—eewww
        Ms. Hyena Laugher
        Mr. Stupid Question Asker

        1. Pat*

          the snifferler. constant all day sniffelling. she is a nurse in a hospital. nose running all day long and her inane conversations go on all day. we call her Ms Piggy.

          1. Katie*

            Thank you for adding the “sniffler” to our laundry list of imbeciles. I sit directly connected to my “managers” desk- all that separates us is a glass window… She sniffles, coughs, and clears her throat and “agggGGGGHHHEEEMMMS every two minutes of every day. I can set my clock by her. She is always sick as well! I don’t know what she eats outside of work but whatever it is- it is NOT doing her health any favors!! My favorite part is that she will trash the shit out of anybody that comes in to work with the slightest hint of a cold and claim, “nobody should come to work sick,” while she grabs the next handful of Kleenex to slobber in to. Her manager is another gem. Her leers over my desk, stares at me whenever I get up from my desk to walk anywhere, I have literally caught him five times just standing in the doorway of one of our bathrooms not doing anything. Just standing there. With the door wide open. Waiting. Waiting for what, I have no idea. Crrreeeepy!! Then there is the forty year old mama’s boy who, when not having his daily visit from “mommy,” is clinging to the second in charge, wannabe manager’s, skirt-tail. No lie, this “man’s” mother brings him “treats” every day, stands around taking up space from our customers, talking to her little baby boy, and whenever she comes or goes he always calls her, “mommy.” Then there is the 250 pound holier than thou, smarter than you, I know everything, I am the best, nobody does it better than me, I want to punch her right in the jaw lady that never, ever, ever shuts her fringing’ mouth! Her gab is running constantly! She is always invading private conversations. If she were to just once keep her nose out of everyone’s business I would be seriously concerned for her health. This whole place is a joke. Starting from the top, to the lowest on the totem pole. Office Politics does not describe what goes on in this “business.” There are 2 paid sick days per year. There are literally NO raises given (but somehow half the staff has been here for over 10 years), you must work the day before and the day after holidays, and the drama that floats through these halls is stifling. I come here to die every single day. There is no happiness, no gleam of hope. There is just pain, misery, agony, and hatred. The only reason I step foot through the doors of this living hell is to earn my, albeit weak and severely underpaid, paycheck so I can continue earning my Degree. Every single senior in high school debating whether to pursue higher education, considering taking “just the year off,” thinking they can make it through life better without a college degree, should have to spend just 1 month here. I guarantee that would make up the mind of many uncertain high schoolers.

      3. Anonymous*

        Your comment made me feel better… maybe I’ll do that to make this better for my self… my office feels like I work in a market.

  6. Marie*

    Some of the worst offenders I’ve had to work with:

    non-stop talkers (one person would talk and talk while I was trying to eat my lunch in solitude, even though I pointedly ignored him and literally held my book up to my face).

    cubicle neighbors who make loud and disgusting chewing and slurping noises while eating.

    jerks who whistle.

    one jackass in particular who would hog the office microwave literally all day and – irrationally – would get angry when someone else would try to heat up their lunch.

    loud-mouthed slackers shouting on their cell phones on personal calls rather than doing their work.

    1. Paul*

      The guy that chews on paper clips hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month – like sitting across the aisle from a neurotic squirrel on Red Bull. This boy can do NOTHING quietly, either – something as simple as turning the pages in a three-ring binder become a cacophonous symphony.

  7. class factotum*

    1. The woman who wore so much perfume that I could still smell it in the hall, five minutes after she had walked through.

    2. The women who wear mules to work and I hear that damn slap slap slap all day long as they walk from their cubicles to the copy machine. No naked feet at work! Don’t do it! They make an annoying sound and it’s the rare person whose feet are so beautiful and well groomed that I want to see them.

  8. googleplex*

    oh the very worst are the people who have barely been there for a few months and they start telling you what to do (even though you are obviously hard at work with something else.) “hey go finish that over there.” or if you make a simple mistake (due to fatigue) they act like you did it on purpose “um can you please not do that”. (but with a real snaky tone” (you know the tone)

    1. Pat*

      stacy….. new nurse….. one my dad would call a New England fishwife. Incessant talk at a caustic pitch with a south boston twang.

  9. Anonymous*

    A coworker of mine likes to

    1) Watch what i eat and share with the world
    2) Announce to the world that “She’s not having cake”
    3) Make comments about me – while i am sitting right next to her (although there’s a partition between us) and assume I would not hear it.
    4) Calls me after work hours to “talk” for 3 hours about her issues, how her boyfriend is not treating her well, and hitting her and then plans a bunch of trips with him.
    5) Gossip with one of the manager whom also spent the entire day gossiping.

    She is very good at talking, and I think quite well liked among one of the groups. She is a contractor and all the contractors in my group likes to stick together. This is a group of very weight concious bunch and are constnatly asking me why I am not putting on as much weight even though I eat a lot (and I do – i gained more than 6lbs in the past month. I just cover it by getting a bigger sized shirts / sweaters etc…)

    She is driving me nuts, I get nightmare about her, I would cry all night to my parents about her. She had been away for a few weeks and will be back to work soon. I worked so much better without her around. There’s still a week before I have to face her again,but I can’t stop thinking about all the neative things about her already. How can i deal with this nicely without making myself hated by my peers?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. Stop taking her calls at home. If she asks at work why you’re not answering, tell her you’re busy with friends or something.
      2. Ignore her comments about you at work, or tell her to stop commenting on your food and your weight.
      You’re giving her too much power over your state of mind; stop giving her that much control!

  10. Anonymous*

    I used have a manager that she felt she was never wrong, she always found ways to blame others, in a sense. Basically if you ask her still to this day she never made a mistake. I cannot stand that idea, since no one is perfect. She would also gossip all the time, I think it was since she was the HR of the company. I really wonder why someone would give her that position? She intentionally would go around people’s back and talk about their business. I hope there is such thing as Karma.

  11. Nick*

    Some annoying coworkers won’t take a “hint”, and supervisors won’t get involved. One fellow from a neighboring department comes to my desk almost every day to say hello. I have no problem with this, but he then talks about everything and anything that comes into his head and he won’t LEAVE. “Gee, you have a stapler just like I do! Do you use it?” segues into, “Did you go to the office party last year?” We had chicken! Do you like chicken?” and this segues into, “Oh, I see you have pills on your desk! What is your health issue? Tell me, it will make you feel better!”

    The guy will sometimes end a conversation and start to walk away, but then will turn around and start blabbing again. He’s shy, lonely, and a BORE, which explains why he’s lonely. Much of what he says to me borders on “stupid”, and I don’t say that unkindly, I mean it, literally. I once emailed a friend while he was “conversing” with me and asked this friend to call me so that I’d have an excuse to end the conversation, and if I don’t even look at him or speak to him while he’s talking, he STILL goes on and on with his monologue nevertheless.

    I’ve tried many polite ways to end this, but only succeed in hurting his feelings for a day or two, then he starts it all over again. My boss and other people simply say that “that’s how he is”. Do I have to be rude and angry with him to get this to stop?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, but you need to be direct and assertive: “I can’t talk now.” “I need to make a phone call.” “I need to finish this report.” Etc.

  12. Anonymous*

    I could use some advice. I work in a tiny office; only meant for one person at a time. The office is empty and available in the morning (so great – go for it – use the space!) My issue is that when I arrive 10 minutes before my scheduled start time (to set up for the day, turn on computer, etc.) she refuses to vacate the office prior to my arrival so I end up crawling over her and her belongings in order to try and do my work. I don’t think asking for a proper, chaos-free transition is too much to ask?? Thoughts?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Who is the person who’s in there and why is she in there? Are you the only person officially assigned to that office? If so, you need to assert yourself say. “Hi Jane. I need to get in here now, so I need to ask you to leave.”

      1. Anonymous*

        She is the nurse, who floats through the school district and is frustrated at not having a dedicated work space. I am the School Health Aide, specific to the location and yes, with a specific start and end time. I’ve made it very clear that her being there at the same time is hindering my ability to do my work, which is to assist the students in a timely manner. My supervisor is the school principal but she oversees the health related issues.

        1. Anonymous*

          Sounds like the principal needs to know about the cramped work space you’re dealing with. Maybe he or she could help find a larger area that would fit you both or at least another space the floating nurse can use.

  13. M*

    I manage a small medical office. I have one front desk person who is an ocd/overachiever, semi retired. She likes to appear superior to the staff. On the other hand I have another front desk person who is younger, struggling financially, tethered to her cell phone, slack in her work. Two days a week they have to work together, oil and water. I run a very harmonious office, any suggestions on how to approach this mix and keep the peace?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sounds like you need to get more assertive with the slacking of the younger person. She either reaches a high bar and gets off her cell phone or you need to replace her.

  14. about to snap*

    you know how there is always that one person who just annoys you!! I can’t put my finger directly what single thing she does to just annoy me. She is very nice (as a person) but just makes the hair stand on my neck every time I see her or talk to her. I can’t avoid her because I have to work directly with her. She:
    constantly interrupts when I am talking
    butts into an “A” and “B” conversation when she is “D”
    questions everything and just can’t let things go
    can not follow direction and has to do her own thing (she dances to her own beat)
    everything she does is at a snails pace
    she has to be right up on me all the time.

    UGH!!!! I have been biting my tounge but one of these days I am going to SNAP and BAD!! I can’t find the proper way of telling her to just BACK OFF!! and SHUT UP!! I don’t know how to make myself more tolerable to her. I try everyday telling myself that that is just her way….she is a nice person….maybe I am being too hard on her but OMG she is just that annoying!!!

    HELP PLEASE!!!!!

    1. Anonymous*

      Ah.. the interrupter. I have one of those too. If I’m having a serious conversation, I shut the door to my office to keep out the unwanted interference. If an office isn’t around, I stop talking, turn to the interrupter, and ask them if they need something. If the interrupter still doesn’t get it, you may need to tell that person that you don’t like it when she inserts herself into a conversation you are having with someone else.

      The questioner… tell them to google

      The snail…. If it directly affects your work performance, it sounds like you need to get your supervisor involved. If you are the supervisor, you may need to let her go and get someone who can keep up in a fast paced work environment.

      The flea… Tell her you need three feet of personal space. If you feel she’s being creepy close, go to HR.

    2. So over it*

      Feeling your pain… sounds like the lady at my work.

      Every time I walk into the room she has to say hello to me.
      Likes to finish my sentences for me.
      Invites herself to my lunches with my friends.
      Sits on the other side of the room but likes to pick up my phone if I let it ring three times, only to have to transfer it back to me.
      Asks me questions which she already has the answers too.
      Stares at me hoping I would turn around and acknowledge to start a conversation.
      Laughs at EVERYTHING.
      I open my desk draw and she needs to make a comment on its contents. Oh you have highlighters?
      Needs to commentate on everything I do.
      Wants to have a deep and meaningful every morning even before I get to sit down.
      The list goes on….

  15. Melissa*

    I am an engineer in a semi-cube with no privacy in the aerospace industry and have a constantly chattering, loud person who talks sports and other non-work related subjects repeatedly all day long three feet away. My expensive noise cancelling headphones don’t cover it! Earplugs don’t mask him, either. Management has done nothing to quiet him, it seems, although I have complained a few times, as have others. My manager suggested the headphones when I told him I could not think in this environment. Maybe I’m easily distracted, but blaring music to a level where it actually begins to drown out this guy is not helping my concentration, either. Manager also suggested I “learn to tune it out”. I have been trying to do so…for four years. I have also tried turning away, ignoring him completely as if I did not hear him, getting up and walking away, and even blatantly saying “I have to stop talking and get this finished now”, to no avail. I just want to do my job, not make this guy miserable or get him into trouble, but am running out of options to cope with the distraction.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What about a big-picture conversation with this guy, as opposed to just addressing it case-by-case? Tell him that you’re finding it hard to concentrate on your work because of all the non-work talk and ask him to tone it down.

      1. Melissa*

        Thanks. The problem with the case-by-case basis is not only that it reoccurs, but also that he continues to carry on the same conversation without missing a beat, (albeit more of a monologue at that point,) so it may not help, but I will certainly give it a try.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sorry, that’s what I mean — don’t just address it case-by-case but talk to him about the problem overall: This is happening a lot, it’s causing a problem for me, what can we do?

  16. Anonymous*

    I work with an office full of talkers. It used to be quiet but we had to hire from a company we took over and the noise has not stopped. The two main ones are needy overbearing yakers. Even when it does get quiet one reads her emails and proceed to laugh out loud until someone hears her. Then the two will quip each other back and forth till they get a response from someone. Our manager thinks this is fine as long as the work is getting done. He doesn’t think about the ones who like it somewhat quiet in order to get their work done. It is heaven when they are on holidays or just away!!!!! yeah

    1. Indie_Rachael*

      Same problem here, but the worst part for me is that after reading internet articles (aloud to the rest of us, mind you), emails (aloud), sharing tips on the best iPhone apps, and sharing way more personal information than I want from anyone I’m not related by blood to, we get to spend the rest of the afternoon hearing about how behind on their work they are and then get bullied to help pick up the slack.

      Unfortunately, these two women have been with the company the longest of all of us, so I don’t see our management ever stepping in to fix it.

      I *live* for those rare days when both of those women are out of the office. The silence and generally improved mood in the office are sheer heaven!

      1. Irritated*

        How sad that we live for days at work when we know certain people won’t be there. One day I pulled up to the building, checked burper/brown noser’s parking spot and he car wasn’t there. Can I please tell you how I had to stop myself from doing cartwheels? Our entire team was joyous. Please tell me why it is right that the managers love this girl and she does no wrong in their eyes and yet all her coworkers want to punch her in the throat? Management is blind, or maybe they just don’t care about us and like the ones who rat people out. I have been here ten years and this girl has been here one, she bosses me around with the support of my supervisor. They are bullies. I do decent work, rarely mistakes, they just enjoy picking on people I suppose. Help! I can’t quit because I have an infant at home and need the insurance. What a sad state of affairs. No room to move around here, it’s crazy. My co-workers and I are all stuck in a rut at this point. I guess all we can do is deal with this kiss up, even if it kills us.

        1. Indie_Rachael*

          My #1 was on vacation all last week and #2 was out at least a day. What bliss!

          Today my earphones are up so loud to drown out the whining (making up for her lost time I suppose) that I fear I may go deaf.

  17. Anonymous*

    My new cubicle neighbor is driving me insane. I asked the office manager to please distribute a general memo on cubicle etiquette because it’s not just one thing she does. Our cubicles are 4 feet apart, becuase of the set up we face each other. She eats all day long, anything she can fit in her mouth. Chews with her mouth open, slurps her drinks, smacks, picks her teeth and licks her fingers. Eats lunch (will order a full pizza) at 10:45 a.m. Talks to her pc, “stop it!” “Don’t do that!”, strings of profanity in a row when something doesn’t go smoothly, brushes her hair, puts on deodorant & full makeup at her desk, sighs super loudly throughout the day & especially when she leaves her desk & returns. Taps her fingernails on the desk, clicks the pens off and on off and on, personal calls all day, baby talks to her man. UGH! Oh and let me not forget, when she does wear the headphones to listen to music, she sings out loud. I’m going insane and don’t know what to do. She is aware because when an attorney walks by she will tone it down, I’ve asked nicely, hinted, flat out told her I’m noise senstive (not all noises but crunching yes!) right after I told her that, for 30 minutes she at super crunchy something. I’ve never known anyone so inconsiderate and ill mannered and my office manager said no to distributing the general cubicile etiquette memo. What else can I do?

      1. Anonymous*

        I tried earplugs to no avail. Should have mentioned headphones are out because I need to be able to hear my direct supervisor (Senior Partner) when he speaks to me from his office.

        1. rad666*

          Wear the headphones when he asks why you are wearing them explain the situation, maybe you can get some backing from him.

      2. Zoffix Znet*

        While my trusty headphones whisked me away from my annoying co-workers, they are hardly a permanent solution. A lot of annoying things my co-worker does are so loud that I can still hear him even over loud music, and I hardly want to lose my hearing.

        Moreover, even though I have extremely comfortable headphones, their feel around my ears gets tiring after several hours. Not to mention on some days I simply don’t feel like listening to music and want some peace and quiet.

        I tried earplugs, but found sticking some foam into my ears is gross :(

  18. Very annoyed*

    I am a tax accountant and need a lot of quiet to research and perform my job effectively. However, they sat a salesperson next to me who is loud, very heavy, burps all day long, and sits in chair facing my cubicle as he is on the phone. He is a heavy smoker, so when he comes back inside his clothes and coat stink which nauseates me. I spray air freshener all the time. He recently caught a cold and never covers his mouth when he coughs or sneezes. Grant it he says excuse me at least 50 times a day. I have been in this situation for 6 months now and have complained to my boss many times. Everyone here feels sorry for me having to sit next to this guy. My main concern is I cannot perform my job effectively. I am on the verge of quitting. I do like my job. It is close to home.

  19. Anonymous*

    I have a co-worker we almost share a desk, slurps her tea in the morning which I can hear even if I have my head phones On with loud music. By 10 she starts eating apples with loud noises, I mean the mouth open . with just four bites completes eating an apple. It goes on till noon even after lunch. Sometines 8 to 10 apples. I only wished she was quiet in eating her food and drinking her tea, at least being respectable towards the co-worker. I don’t know how to mention this to her politely. I dont’ wish to hurt her feelings.

    1. noslurpingzone*

      OMG I completely sympathise with you. The guy next to me does the same thing every morning 9:05 slurp coffee and then 10:30 eats weetbix and even manages to slurp that then 11:00 eats an apple LOUD MFKER and then god forbid if he eat lunch at desk he slurps again – it makes me ill n every hair on my arm rises. I’ve been told that its to do with his ethnicity but I mean hes been in Aus for 10+yrs so I don’t take that response. Ive tried earphones and tuning out etc etc it’s been a year now and I don’t know how to tell him to stop!

  20. Anonymous*

    I have two co-workers that just aggravating and annoying, the first one just loves to complain and complain to other co workers as if he’s the only one who has a lot to do, but ugh, man he is sure a burper and i mean not quietly but loudly, it just so disgusting and doesn’t even excuse himself either. Every chance he gets burp there and burp here.
    The other one, just loves talking and talking on his cell phone and company phone, and it just goes on for hours and when he’s looks like he’s working he just sits there in front of his computer and just stare for hours as if he’s sleeping with his eyes open.
    Doesn’t like to do his own work, he’s says he’s a college graduate with a Bachelor’s but doesn’t even know the basics how to work a printer or Microsoft Office – now how is that even possible?? Oh, and when he yawn he just have to make these loud sounds when he’s yawning and it so annoying, especially I find it very rude when your being spoken to and then they yawn right in front of you or when you are talking to them and they yawn that is just plain rude!
    I’m on a very thin string of just exploding.

    1. Irritated*

      Same situation here. I dont know what we can do about these lunatics. Who burps out loud? We have this girl that does it and it is so disgusting I could vomit. Really, they can’t stifle that sound? I dont get it. I got one behind me that yawns like it’s a job. PLUS, we arent allowed to wear headphones at work, I don’t know why but it is their bogus rule. The burper also brown noses very badly, it is causing alot of tension in our department. She calls my boss on the phone even tho they sit 3 desks away. Really? ugh. Oh, and she is here an hour ahead of time, waiting for me to get here so she can bombard with me with every excruciating detail of her night. I dread coming to work because of this girl, I can barely stomach driving here. The supervisor and manager think she is so wonderful that it is pointless to even complain to them about her. So after 10 years, I am looking for a new job. I know it is a bad time for jobs but I can’t take it anymore. She has been here 1 year and questions me about my work. I can’t wait til the day I can leave here and tell that chick just how miserable she has made my life and everyone around her.

  21. Anonymous*

    The worst thing in the work place is when you have a know it all. The ones that have done everthing in the world and have had everything twice as bad as anyone else. I work beside a woman like this. I have to leave when she starts on her life experiences. It would not be so bad if she would give it a rest and actually work.

  22. JMMJ*

    I have just begun a new sales position, it has great potential. I am in training stages presently with the most insecure former hot-shot from a big firm. He feels the need to treat me like his secretary, if he doesn’t know how something works pesters me instead of the management team. On all things work related and non-work related he feels he is the authority, I call him “Mr. Know-It-All” at home when I’m venting to my boyfriend. It is horrible when I’m hoping this insecure non-salesman-like idiot has decided to quit…. I hope this daily! The most annoying thing is when he tells me how things are supposed to go here in the office as though he really knows; only to find out that he was totally off and having to hear later that management has no idea what they are doing. He’s new to sales, new to the industry, new to EVERYTHING …. URGH!!!

  23. Zoffix Znet*

    I work next to a very annoying co-worker who seems to pathologically incapable of not producing noise. Whenever he is not on a phone with customers, he is either drumming his pen, drumming his feet, makes fart noises, or plays with his cornicopia of toys, most annoying of which is a slinky.

    I confronted him once about his foot tapping, he stopped that, but now he grinds that annoying slinky more often than ever. I can’t possibly remind him about everything that’s annoying.

    I’m amazed at how oblivious one can be about being so disruptive to colleges few feet away! UGH!!!

    1. Anonymous*

      Throw the slinky away. oops… cleaning crew must have gotten it. Have you told your supervisor about his other annoying behaviors?

      1. Zoffix Znet*

        Turns out it’s his boss who bought the slinky… it’s like part of their uniform for “stress relief” *eye roll*. And yes, I already complained about it twice.. His boss refuses to move him to another spot and my boss says there’s no other place to move me to.

  24. Suddenly Grateful*

    Wow. Suddenly I’m feeling so much better about my own co-worker! Compared to these, she is an angel. I have nothing to complain about.

  25. Anonymous*

    Although I’m not a burper or farter…like some of the gross people described, I am a talker and an occasional cusser. I hope I’m not doing something that annoys someone else at work. I’m definitely going to be a lot more aware of the people around me.

  26. Peach*

    The Office Whistler! omgosh sooo annoying. I’ve read some of the comments here and have my own thoughts to add. My Co-worker is a great whistler (can’t take that away from him), but he must think its his job to entertain the masses because his booming singing voice (vibrato and all) and his loud whistling is a karaoke audience’s dream… and co-worker’s nightmare. REALLY, there is a time and place for everything. I dont mind a verrry occasional burst of musical release, but it becomes hard to consentrate when he let’s loose and keeps it up. Honestly, I think its his outlet to release work stress… but after a while I have to put in earplugs or pop in my ipod to get aways from it. At first I thought he did this as a total joke, but he thrives on any compliments tossed his way and seems to think it is a plea to hear more. Ugh! Oh and also one of those guys who loves to declare to anyone around when and how bad his gas is at the moment. Also got the pleasure of hearing details about any sucesses and disappointments of rest room trips. Oh joy. LOL

  27. Steve*

    I work with a guy that is just driving me insane. He was hired on at the same time as I was and that is where the similarities end. His cube is right next to mine and he spends more time a day in mine than in his. He constantly talks about how much money he made at his previous job and how his wife is now making “six figures”. Ugh. Our boss cannot stand him and he knows it so he is just doing things out of spite now. He will come over when I get in and eat crackers without drinking any water. Have you ever heard this sound? It is like listening to someone die of thirst from the outside in. He is always talking about how all the females in the office want to sleep with him. Makes me want to puke. In meetings, I can feel him staring at me and he wants me to look his way so he can have my attention but I do not give it to him. He also makes this horrendous whistling noise when saying any word with an S in it. I just want to go to work, get my work done, and go home.

  28. Sore ears*

    I have a coworker who talks non-stop about her kids all day. You say its nice our today, and she turns it about her kids. You say your hungry, well her kids make this dinner. You say the coffee is good at McDonald and her daughter worked 30 hours. You say I am tired, she says my kid kept me up. I am sick of hearing about her kids. She interrupts all conversations to talk about her kids. I am tired of it. Its all about her kids. I never talk about my kids. I know more about her than she knows about me. I would win a I know you more contest about her, she would lose if it was about me. She is broke. She has three kids, two from different fathers and they don’t pay support. I hear this all day. I am so friggin sick of it, I want to quit!!!! She is so all about herself. Everyone in the office talks about, its like a big joke. The only probably is, I sit next to her and get it all day long. Its draining and I feel depressed. HELP

  29. Fed Up with Co-Workers*

    Old man programmer doing reports for other co-workers. They flirt with him which is disgusting to get their reports done by him. Every time they pass his desk they call out his name. This could be at least 5 times an hour. Any advice????

  30. annoying coworkers*

    female coworker that has only been with company 2 years flirting with every man that walks in our office. She flirst with male bosses to get her way. She makes women in general look bad. How to deal with someone like this?

  31. Horrified*

    I’m sorry to hear about all the poor experiences, but regret that I also laughed out loud at some of the stories. I can definitely relate. I am in a cube farm where I do admin support for an executive, but am stuck at the end of a row of payroll types from another department. I was next to a peach in the next cubicle who had a whole range of strange behaviours, most of which have been mentioned by others. She would field personal phone calls at her desk – about 3 feet from my head. Her ringer was off on her cell phone, but that made things worse, because she is half-deaf, gets bad reception, and I would be warned of the phone call by her shouting HELLO!? HELLO!? 3 or 4 times. She has standing orders to her pre-teen son to call EVERY MORNING so she can tell him what colour of pants to wear, what kind of cereal to eat, and to remind the obviously brilliant child to remember to take his lunch to school (personally, I would have forgotten to take my lunch exactly once – you learn quickly not to ever do that again).

    I guess I could call her Helicopter Mama, but she has so many other annoying habits to choose from. The chipmunk noises she makes on a day-long basis, sucking on her lower lip (loud and long); the constant pen-clicking – particularly as she walks directly past my desk – the fighting with the teenage daughter on the multiple personal phone calls throughout the day, the too-tight sheer blouses without sleeves, the constant running of the space heater at full blast (also 3 feet away) because she is “too cold” in her sleeveless blouses, the volume of the iPod blasting music into my cubicle (because the ear buds are left lying on the desktop, pointing into my cube, acting as mini-speakers). There is the constant chuckling at joke emails sent from benefactors, as she sits at her computer texting on her personal smart phone, the day-long conversations to the other payroll types about nothing in particular, and the alternation between flip-flops (described well up above) and what sounds like wooden clogs when she hits the tiled floor in the hallway.

    I’ve talked to my manager, who suggested wearing earphones. My response is that I’m not here to listen to music. There is a mass of literature on the subject – some personality types are highly distracted by music, and I am one of them. The managers have private offices.

  32. Anonymous*

    Just like so many of you I have a bonehead coworker. This guy acts like he never makes one single mistake. Bug people at the gas station about gas prices that have no control over it. Calls himself a “machine” because he is a workaholic. He constantly treats the other guy I work with like crap. When my grandmother died I got her violin. He had the balls to tell me what I SHOULD be doing with it. I’m a musician to this bugged me. As a matter of fact, that REALLY ticked me off. He’s is one of those people who loves an argument and always has to be right! Even thinks it’s funny to tick of other people. Just chatting at lunch time with others and he always talks over me. When we all sit in the office in the morning before work they all talk about what is on the main webpage. EVERY morning he cuts somebody down. EVERY MORNING! I guess just another one of those people who need attention no matter what. Obviously doesn’t care if other people think he is a bonehead.
    I do a lot at work, and at times I am the go to guy for the computers. I’ve noticed that when I struggle and succeed at fixing something that was driving me crazy he never says a word, while other coworkers are happy that there computer headache is over. It’s like he wants others to fail. The only compliments to other peoples work, is towards the boss. Like we all don’t notice that? Give me a break.
    There are days when I think I should just say something calmly , or LET HIM HAVE IT. Somebody should! But then I wonder if I want to put in the energy to do such. I am not sure. He mentioned stories about his dad, and WOW what a jerk. He never seemed to say good things about his father. He was treated like garbage. Maybe that’s why I keep my mouth shut considering that is how he was raised. That is a line that I won’t cross no matter how ticked I become.What I am sure of is this know it all, above everybody else, insulting, intruding hard ass tough guy personality is really starting to grind my bones! I never did have much of a tolerance to the ones who talk to other people like they are garbage!!!!

  33. vexed employee*

    I work with an annoying co worker who likes to pick on me. He pops up behind me and makes any annoying comment sometimes its about the food I have picked up from somewhere.He makes snide comments about how I love food and should not be eating this stuff because I am watching my weight although I made it clear to him that the food is for family. He also tries to get me to do dance moves that he likes and he does like every second. He also likes to stare at me from his cubicle and once he while talking he claimed that I was very loud and disturbing everyone in the office and another time he snapped I should get back to work when I was talking with my coworkers and he doesnt say that except to me. He doesn’t stop at that he comes every second of the day to ask silly questions like are you having fun
    or are you excited and if you say yes he asks you why and hes just so irritating. He repeats the same
    thing day in day out and the thing is I dont really know why he does it.

  34. XYZ*

    Oh god y people keep on yawning in front of other they have no interest and also make other lose interest. disgusting.

  35. Grumble*

    Sorry for the thread necro but I had to offer this, however un-PC it may be.

    Lose the kid gloves! It’s not just that these types of people are annoying in a purposeful and paradoxically oblivious way. The fury/anxiety comes from thinking you have no choice but to repress tremor-inducing vexation. I’d wager we all know that this isn’t healthy.

    If a person is free to be a loud gross inconsiderate narcissist then you (or I or anybody) are free to look them straight in the eye and say in no quiet terms “Shut the f*ck up! You’re f*cking disgusting! Get the f*ck away from me! F*ck!” :) Or however you’d personally express boiling irritation.

    Where did this notion come from that the feelings of people who are deliberately irritating need to be treated gently? Sure they tend to make a performance of how “offended” (irony?) they are at being spoken to in such a way. Sure they run to managers or HR or whoever will listen to their delusions of persecution, but the truth is they disrupt for the attention.

    Like a little brat who’s parents are afraid of teaching discipline, they’ll do whatever manipulative thing they can think of to get their way and “win”. And this is what’s nuts! Management and HR have the power to say “You’re obnoxious and you know it! Somebody finally got tired of it! Now you can either act like a big boy/girl and go back to work without being irritating, or you can help yourself right out the front door.”

    This could and should happen in real life. This modern fear of minor conflicts and hurt feelings is totally irrational and should never be given justification. We are not snowflakes melting at the slightest heat and some people really do need to be reminded to “Grow the F up!”

    And for the managers; which is harder on the bottom line? A justified outburst and pretend hurt feewings? (deliberately misspelled) Or a series of employee aneurysms and real higher premiums? (Don’t worry, I know what rhetoric is ;) )

  36. Grumble*

    Oh, and if it’s the boss that needs to hear the un-gentle truth? Well, at least you get to go out with a bang and leave a cool story for the others that are secretly jealous of what they just witnessed. You’ll also probably feel a bit more confident in yourself. ;)

  37. Going Nuts*

    I swear to God if this guy on the other side of my cube wall doesn’t stop sniff sniff ssssnniiiiiffffiinnnnngggg every two seconds of every DAY I am going to throw a box of Kleenex at him and my doctor’s number. Any suggestions?

  38. Red Dwarf*

    Then there’s the lady I work with that constantly says “I’m like….” or “YouKnowWhatIMean?” or “YouKnowWhatI’mSayin’?” I don’t mean every once in a while, but each two or three or so times times a sentence.

  39. Exhausted*

    Thanks for the amazing stories. Perhaps working in a barn with livestock would be cleaner and quieter. Here’s my contribution: a loud, over -the-top shrieking and giggling male who works in the cubicle outside of my office. (He works for a different division) all day long, gossiping with the women in the lunch room, making fun of co-workers. As a self-proclaimed authority he bosses people in his department, asking them if they’ve finished their tasks: assuming the role of (imaginary) manager. He has a mechanized ‘no’ button recording that he pushes at least once an hour. He talks loudly day long, brays over the phone and constantly clears his throat. I can hear him through my closed office door. There’s no limit to the desperate attention seeking. Any suggestions?

  40. Relieved and somewhat Grateful*

    I am relieved to read through all the comments and know I’m not the only one with annoying co-workers and somewhat relieved because it makes my colleague seem not-so-bad! Nonetheless, I’d like to share my peeves! This person in particular does the extremely loud, over the top, exaggerated yawns, ALL the time. I find it completely obnoxious and rude! She likes to chat constantly, and it’s never about anything interesting. Ever. It’ll be about a lamp in her bathroom or how many shoes she has. . . And the way she talks: she has really exciting and exaggerated facial expressions that makes it look like what she’s talking about is really exciting when I just want to shoot my brains out. It takes forever for her to get a sentence out too. There are so many pauses in an already boring statement, it’s unbearable. When she is silent, she’ll put both headphones in with loud music, so she never answers the phone or responds to anyone when you need something. She stands too close to people and I see her watching youtube videos or texting all the time at work. I know it could be worse though.

  41. Anonymous*

    My co-worker:
    Sits four feet from me in a shared space, so there is no privacy.
    Is literally the nosiest person (busy-body) I have ever known in my life. I work in a place where lost items are sometimes brought to my desk (our cubicle). She will immediately rifle through someones belongings, inspecting everything, in order “to locate a phone number” to call them. Makes me physically sick. She will google any new person, customer or co-worker, to gather info about them, she will use google maps and look at the house they live in. She will then announce any and all info, as if someone wants to hear it. She loves to have “dirt” about anyone and everyone. She dislikes everyone, including me. Gossips to anyone who will listen. For these reasons alone, I do not get along with her. But theres more:
    She is constantly negative. She complains about all the things she “hates”. When she does smile or laugh, its not infectious ever, because it comes off as almost sinister. Her smile looks ugly (didn’t know that was possible).
    She doesn’t talk “to” you, but talks “at” you. She fishes for information, tries to get you to reveal anything that she can hold against you. It’s weird.
    She evidently knows everything about everything.
    She interrupts about 99% of the time when I’m talking to a customer, even if it’s a phone conversation.
    She is just kind of a miserable person all around, which made me feel sorry for her, for awhile.
    If I talk to her, she’s unhappy, if I’m quiet, she’s unhappy. If I’m happy, she’s unhappy. If I walk past her desk, she’s unhappy. There is no way to win.
    She is not interested in anything I have to say, so I generally don’t talk to her, but if she wants to talk, well thats different isn’t it? I listen politely and respond appropriately. That’s it.
    She cannot tolerate silence. If I’m having a peaceful morning and it’s kind of quiet, it won’t last longer than about 9am, and then “her” radio goes on. I used to like Janis Joplin. Argh.

    It seems an unhealthy situation, not good for my soul, however for now
    I do have to spend 8 hours a day with her so I need some strategies. My solution at this point is to remain positive, be polite. Concentrate on all the good things in my life and do my job. Seek out opportunities to work in other areas of the office and talk to as many other (positive) people as I can. It’s been about 3 years. I don’t engage her in conversation unless she starts one, and then I’m very cautious and don’t talk about anything personal. If it’s gossip or something negative, I don’t respond. It’s working okay so far. Of course, she’s not happy.

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