7 ways you’re driving your coworkers batty

usnewsAnyone who’s ever had a job knows the special hell of annoying coworkers who get on your last nerve at work and from whom you can’t escape because you’re both required to work together. But have you ever considered that you yourself might be that annoying coworker for some of your colleagues?

At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about seven things that would make the chances pretty high that you are the one your coworkers are venting about when they go home each day — including regularly cc’ing people’s managers when you don’t need to, playing the martyr, and more. You can read it here.

 

 

{ 298 comments… read them below }

  1. Kvaren

    My personal ringtone is The Parks and Rec theme and I will not apologize for it ringing in the office.

      1. fposte

        Sorry, that reads as snotty now to me–what I mean is that I don’t think you’d be judged on Parks and Rec, just on whether the phone is ringing disturbingly.

        1. Kvaren

          We have people in our office who have literal screams of terror and what sounds like tornado sirens as ringtones, so.

          My cube neighbors would rather here my ringtone 5 times in a row than one of those other ones once a week. We are judging them, and hard.

          1. Wendy Darling

            When I was a teaching assistant one of my sweetest, shyest, quietest students forgot to silence her phone during class and it rang FULL BLAST. Her ringtone was an Arabic chant, which is very pretty when it has not just scared the living daylights out of you by suddenly blaring super loud in a relatively quiet room.

            I’m pretty sure I looked terrified because she was EXTREMELY apologetic, but really, it happens occasionally and I was just startled.

          2. Lois

            My sister once recorded our little brother (who was about 3 at the time) saying “Rawr! I am a dinosaur!” and used that as her ringtone.

          3. Former Retail Manager

            We have 2 people in our office with the barking dog ringtone and both leave the volume all the way up and are never at their desks when the phones ring.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

              I go around and secretly silence those people’s phones.

          4. stk

            I have a family member who uses an air raid siren as a ringtone, and it freaks me out every time!

            1. Dynamic Beige

              That would drive me up the wall. I live near a golf course and when there’s lightning/thunder, they fire up the air raid siren warning. I always have to remind myself it’s just the golf course and not DEFCON1.

            2. Elizabeth West

              I made a Dark Tower theme for my phone and I had the hardest time choosing a ringtone. I finally picked the closest thing I could imagine to the chimes they hear when they travel through the multiverse.

              The main character(s) are gunslingers–I didn’t think a gunshot or a volley of them would be a good idea, LOL.

          5. rory

            Back at LastJob, there was someone who had an air raid siren as his ring tone. I’m prone to startling and can hurt my shoulders/neck by flinching too hard.

            I hated him so much.

          6. Janice in Accounting

            I had a coworker whose ring tone was a woman screaming in terror; it was so awful. He turned out to be a terrible person all around, so connect those dots how you will.

            1. Professional Merchandiser

              I used one to have one that had police siren ringtone. I kept it at full volume because the stores I work in are incredibly noisy. (Big discount stores) One time it rang just as the store manager walked by. He said, “You might want to change that ringtone. It’s making my customers nervous!!” When I got a different phone I did change it; but I don’t hear it as well as I did that siren!! :-)

            1. Michelenyc

              If you’re not at your desk and your phone is blowing up with calls/texts. I get up and turn off the ringer. It’s annoying and rude not matter what the ringtone is!

      2. K.

        One of my former coworkers would have her ringer up full blast and actually sit and listen to her phone ringing, and do a little dance to it at her desk. She was a REALLY loud person, as a rule – no inside voice whatsoever. She did good work but was constantly – and rightfully – reprimanded about her noise, including the phone.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          One of my more embarrassing moments was in a faculty meeting where I, as the departmental assistant, was taking notes. Backstory: it always seemed that every time we sat down to a faculty meeting in that first-floor, window-lined conference room, one of the facilities management guys would be out there mowing the lawn. So when my phone began to vibrate, I didn’t pay any attention to it at all; I just thought it was the FAMA guys mowing the lawn. Pretty soon, everyone in the meeting was staring pointedly at me, and it wasn’t until then that I realized that the “lawnmower” was my phone.

    1. Kyrielle

      Mine is the line from the Helsinki Complaints Choir (not in English, as you might imagine) about ‘all ringtones are equally annoying’. It’s this beautiful choral sound, and it’s hilarious if you know what it means.

      And I silence it right quick when it starts up, because no matter how much I like it, no one else asked for it as a soundtrack. :)

    2. Emmie

      My new phone has a duck quacking ringer. I thought of changing my ringer for laughs ;)

      1. Catabouda

        Multiple folks in my office use the duck quacking ringer. It’s funny the first time you hear it.

    3. anonanonanon

      If it’s ringing every single day or multiple times a day, it’s going to get annoying very fast.

      1. Sadsack

        This is true. One coworker had the sound of a train whistle for a while. It wasn’t very loud and was a bit comical because I’d be working and suddenly think, do I hear a train? It wasn’t obnoxious by any means, really. But this person’s elderly parents calls her about 17 times a day, so it got annoying after a while. She has changed the ringtone recently though, and now I don’t hear it at all.

        1. Elizabeth

          My dad set the ring tone for my mom’s sister on my mom’s phone to be a barking dog. Yes, for the reasons you are probably thinking of. He also set the ring tone for his calls to her phone to be a submarine dive horn.

          1. OfficePrincess

            My boss has the dive horn for his boss (really, it’s the only thing appropriate for that man), but then he also has the teacher from Charlie Brown for his wife, which then loses points.

            1. Phyllis B

              I really miss my old phone that I lost. I had some really cool ring tones on it. I personalized them for every member of the family.

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        I had a coworker who left all their sounds on after getting a new iPhone, between the keyboard clacking sound for typing, the woosh for sent, and text message ding, I was begging her to silence the sounds.

        1. Vicki

          :-)

          One night, commuting home on the train, a man’s phone range across the aisle. It was some weird song and it took him many rings to get it out and silence it.

          He looked around, apologetically, and said, “My kid keeps changing my ring tone.”

    4. Lizabeth

      It’s not what the ringtone is but how long the phone keeps ringing when the office dumb bunny leaves her phone behind and whomever is calling keeps redialing for 10 minutes minimum. Head hitting keyboard.

      1. Vicki

        And speaking of “the phone keeps ringing” — setting it to vibrate does NOT help!
        In a cubicle environment (or an open office) where desks are connected, the vibration can be felt many desks away.

        I worked with people who were on call. They’d leave their phones behind when they went to meetings and then the “pager” would buzz. And buzz. And buzz.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever

      My ringtone is Weird Al’s Ringtone.

      “Ringtone! Why did I buy this stupid ringtone!”

      I typically keep my phone silent but on the rare occasion when I forget….I’m probably the only one who finds this funny.

      1. Allison

        I had to look that one up. Haha, oh man, the days where we paid money for annoying ringtones.

        I mean, we still use them, they’re just free now. I don’t like it when it’s a song though, something like the Kim Possible pager tune is awesome.

    6. Brownie Queen

      I worked in a very quiet office. The guy in the cube next door had the most obnoxious ringtones up at full volume. Heart attack every time his cell rang. Hated him.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        One of my coworkers has a creepy sounding ringtone that every time I hear it, I have to look up and down the hall to see if some creeper is creeping up on me. I don’t know what it is, but it sounds like something from a horror movie where the creeper is creeping up on someone.

    7. Kittymommy

      Mine is Christmas in Hollis and it rings do little (I generally text) that it scares the crap out of me when it does ring.

      1. Vicki

        This! If mine ever rings, I don’t know it’s mine. I look around expectantly, waiting for whomever to answer their phone and no one does because it’s me.

    8. OlympiasEpiriot

      I have known multiple guys who have the “BlahBlahBlahBlahBlahBlahBlahBlah” ringtone specifically for their wives. Interestingly, never their girlfriends. As much as I hate it for obvious reasons, it does tell me something about them. (I work in the construction industry. We are not known for diplomacy and, well, there’s lots of people who revel in being more piggy than they need to be.)

      Years ago, a BB I had was malfunctioning, I left it plugged in to recharge at my cubicle while I went off into ‘the hole’ to inspect something around 11 am. Although I had powered it down, it malfunctioned in a different way while I was out and a 7-pm-every-night alarm went off at 1 pm and kept ringing. It was a snippet of the Woody Guthrie song “California Stars” being sung by Billy Bragg. I wasn’t back in the office until about 3. Someone had unplugged it and put it in a conference room by itself with a coat over it. Even the supply closets weren’t soundproof.

      I keep the phone on vibrate much of the time, and certainly in any office. I was so embarrassed. Fortunately everyone (about 50 people in a bullpen-style office) seemed to find it hilarious. Also fortunately, my new phone arrived that night.

      1. Vicki

        “Someone had unplugged it and put it in a conference room by itself with a coat over it. ”

        I think I’ve mentioned this elsewhere… I came into the office one morning a little before 7. A co-worker 5 cubicles (and an aisle) away had left his phone on his desk the night before and, at 7am, the alarm went off.

        The phone needed a password to turn off the alarm. I put it into his bottom (unlocked) desk drawer under a spare sweater he kept there and left a note on the keyboard.

        I heard, later, that his co-workers removed the battery when they came in. Even in the drawer, it was too much for the people in the nearby cubes.

    9. Elizabeth West

      At Exjob, someone had the Sting song “Roxanne” on his phone for something–every time it went off, we’d all start singing along with it, “ROOOOOOOOOOXAAANE! You don’t have to put on the red liiiight!” Every time. He finally got sick of us giggling and changed it.

    10. VideogamePrincess

      In high school someone in one of my courses set their ringtone to the Noise that Only Teenagers Hear. His cover was blown when we called him out on it in front of the teacher.

    11. Yellow

      Someone in my office has their ringtone set as a TORNADO SIREN. We work at the top of a high rise building so I won’t even go into how jarring this is during severe weather (which we get frequently in our region).

    12. Jane

      Seriously, you’re at work. Your personal phone should be on silent and you shouldn’t be taking personal phone calls all the time anyway. I have a coworker who walks in the door with her cell phone buzzing away-on vibrate. Come on-it’s not like all phones don’t light up anyway.

  2. Gandalf the Nude

    Can we include on #1 folks who mark every email as high priority or request read receipt? I do not believe every email you send is that critical.

    1. jm

      I’m guilty of asking for a read receipt on 95% of emails I send. We deal with too many people who claim to never have seen our emails. Plus, it’s a control thing for me — I love to know exactly when someone read my email. I will work on this…

      1. jhhj

        I know lots of people who ask for read receipts. I have everything set to automatically refuse them.

          1. rory

            I was helping someone out over email, not high priority, but going pretty well, and then on one email, he sent a read receipt request. It’s amazing how your willingness to help can suddenly drop. :P

        1. Beezus

          I have Outlook set to ignore them. I used to automatically send them, and then someone got annoyed with me over not responding to them immediately on something that didn’t appear to be time sensitive, and I was over it.

      2. Karowen

        I get needing to know when emails are read in cases where people could argue that they never receive the email, but (1) you can deny read receipts, and (2) a delivery receipt (which I think I don’t think the receiver even has to deal with) is just as effective for this. But just wanting to know exactly when someone read your email is not a good enough reason to use a read receipt. You have to trust that they will read it and get back to you when their priorities allow.

        1. Kyrielle

          This, and also, I disable the response for everything *because* otherwise it gets sent if it pops into my inbox, I see it’s quite long, and I mark it to be read later – it first goes ‘read’ and then back to ‘unread’ but by then it already wants to send the receipt. Just no. Sometimes the receipt gets sent because the program was opened, but it doesn’t tell you I read it.

      3. Murphy

        Just a heads up, but when I get that notification that someone had requested a read receipt I always, always click no. And I know I’m not alone in this.

      1. BBBizAnalyst

        Or people who send an email and then send an IM no less than 30 seconds later to ask if you’ve received their email.

        1. AnotherAlison

          I sometimes CALL and do that (not IM), but the point is that I sent you some bulky information, and now I need to discuss/explain it. There’s usually a good reason why I can’t explain that IN the email. (For example, I need input from a SME who is not assigned to my project team, and I need a quick turnaround. If they’re not working with me regularly, they will most likely ignore me unless I call or stop by.)

          1. Important Moi

            “There’s usually a good reason why I can’t explain that IN the email. (For example, I need input from a SME who is not assigned to my project team, and I need a quick turnaround. If they’re not working with me regularly, they will most likely ignore me unless I call or stop by.)”

            Something about that whole explanation bothers me. Do you say you need a quick turnaround in your email?

            1. AnotherAlison

              Sure, I do that. If I need a quick turnaround in a couple hours, and you’re not even looking at my email until then, that does me no good. When I need something that quickly from someone I haven’t talked to in weeks, it seems face-to-face or by phone is preferable to email, but I need to get information into their hands, too. (This is the nature of my business, not my own disorganization.)

            2. AnotherAlison

              (Also, to be clear, this isn’t something I do often. The time-sensitive situation might come up once every couple months. Normally, I just send out an email, follow up a couple days later by email if you’ve ignored me, and then start tracking you down if you still ignore me.)

        2. Violet_04

          I had a coworker who would come over and talk to me in person about the email she sent. Not necessarily asking for a response, but wanting to explain it in more detail. Luckily she now works from home full-time so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

        3. BBBizAnalyst

          I think it’s appropriate to preface that you’d like to discuss in more detail in the body of the email. Instant messaging me or walking over interrupts my flow of work when I haven’t had proper time to digest it and/or come up with a response/questions.

        4. Merry and Bright

          Or say they will drop by your desk later to discuss said email… and appear two seconds after the message arrives in your inbox.

        5. Lois

          Or send an email, and then when you reply they follow up (in the same thread!) with a different question/topic they thought of.

        6. Stranger than fiction

          Oh, meet our Sales team. Many of them email, then IM you saying they emailed you, and if you don’t respond to that, call you. 99.9% of the time it’s just something routine they or the customer could wait til the end of the day for.

      2. SusanIvanova

        How about people who start the IM conversation with “Hi” instead of just going to the question, and wait for a response, and are *8 time zones away*? What should look like this:

        QA (8PM my time): I’m having a problem with X
        Me (10AM): Ooh, yeah, that’s a bug. OK, working on it, it should be fixed today.

        gets an extra 24 hour delay because it starts out with just this
        QA (8PM): Hi Susan
        Me (10AM): (Sigh, because I won’t know what’s wrong until tomorrow) What’s the issue?

    2. Wendy Darling

      My last job worked with a vendor who had a really bad case of the High Priority Cry Wolfs. He marked EVERYTHING high priority, so after the first week or two we just started ignoring the red bang. And then there was an incident where he really did need an immediate answer and we all ignored the mail. Oops.

    3. LD

      I don’t do it on every email, only the ones that I need to know got to the recipient because they are expecting the message and need the information and attachments. Otherwise, I don’t use it at all.

    4. Lily Evans

      I once had a coworker who though an email she received was SO important she printed it out and walked it to my office instead of forwarding it to me…

  3. Temperance

    I turn my cell phone off unless I’m expecting calls that are very important (work related or from my medical team). I’m not that sorry that occasionally people near me have to hear the “Horsin’ Around” theme when I get calls.

    1. Hattie McDoogal

      I’ve been half-heartedly looking for a new ringtone and the “Horsin’ Around” theme is now at the top of my list. :)

  4. anonanonanon

    I really, really dislike co-workers who try to parent colleagues or employees, but no one was as bad as one former co-worker I had.

    At my last company, I worked with a coworker who really wanted kids, but her husband didn’t, so she took it upon herself to parent everyone on our team. At the time I was about 25, she was 24, so it was a really weird dynamic and it was so condescending! I ended up losing my patience and telling her to chill out because it was getting really irritating. She also tried to set me up with all her husband’s friends (her husband was an absolute jerk) because she wanted to go on double dates and was the type who thought no one could be happy single (she used to routinely “wonder what was going on” about our older colleagues who weren’t married or didn’t talk about their romantic lives or partners in the office). It was awful in so many ways and it was so patronizing.

    She loooooved to mother our Editorial Assistants. She would text them if they were out sick to make sure they were okay or see if they needed anything, refused to let them walk to the subway alone if it was dark out because she thought they could get mugged, and would ask after them if they had to leave early or came in late. She suggested taking one to the grocery store to teach her how to shop for deals, and I had to tell her to back off because our EA was an independent 22 year old adult, not a child.

    I’m still annoyed at the thought of her almost 5 years later.

    1. KR

      Just reading your comment made me shudder. That must have been difficult to deal with.

      1. anonanonanon

        It was awful. The day I lost my patience and told her, nicely but firmly, to mind her own business about my and other coworker’s personal lives apparently made her so upset she told another coworker that she had to take a sick day the next day because everything was too emotional.

        1. college employee

          So here was a woman who ignored boundaries and when you tried to establish some boundaries, she had to take a day off because “everything was too emotional.” The only thing that was “too emotional” was her reaction to being told to respect other people’s boundaries.

    2. Hilary Faye

      Ugh I’m dealing with this now. This coworker is the same age as me but is senior to me (not my direct supervisor) and we’re at different places in our personal life – she’s married with kids and I’m happily single. I’m not sure why but it feels so much worse to be mothered by a coworker your own age. Maybe it’s feeling judged because we’re the same age but at such different points in our careers/personal lives. It’s really patronizing!

      1. anonanonanon

        Definitely. I can almost understand it coming from someone older than me (not that it’s okay), but someone my age or younger is just weird.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          And it seems even more patronizing from someone the same age or younger who has kids and is parenting someone who doesn’t have kids. It’s as if they’re saying that being a parent has made them soooo much older and wiser than their non-parent peers.

          1. anonanonanon

            Yes. It’s really obnoxious. I mean, sure, they have world experiences that I don’t have because they have kids, but not having kids doesn’t make me incapable of taking care of myself. I have parents, I don’t need substitute ones in the form of co-workers.

            1. A

              And in some cases, you have world experiences she doesn’t have. You have some of those experiences because you’ve been doing other things besides having kids. How people spend their lives is a series of tradeoffs, and when you choose to have kids, it means you have less time in the day for other experiences you could learn from. One is not inherently better than the other, but it is a tradeoff, not a case of her experiences automatically mattering and yours not.

            1. JaneB

              My best friend from school is like this (she has kids, home educates etc., I’m single cat lady)… but to be fair she’s been like it since we met when we were both 11, she was ALWAYS straightening other people’s school uniforms and trying to organise their lives. She had a little brother she was often expected to keep an eye on, but I had a little sister and didn’t have the same twitches at all. Fortunately since she WAS my best friend I could (and still do) ask her to back off when it got annoying, but much empathy to those who have to put up with it from co-workers!

    3. hbc

      I tend to be a target for this behavior as petite, quiet, youngish-looking female. Unfortunately for those people who try to parent me, it brings out my sarcastic streak. “Good thing you told me to drive safely, I was planning on running stop signs with my eyes closed and fingers crossed.” “You’re right, I was definitely at risk of hypothermia walking the 40 feet to my car without a coat.” “I had never heard that people in long term relationships sometimes choose to get married. Tell me more.”

      1. E

        You could and should put together a book or a blog of these sarcastic responses to benefit the rest of us who end up in similar situations. These are awesome.

        1. Paige Turner

          I would buy this book for myself and for my single and/or non-parent friends.

          1. Paige Turner

            Possible titles- “You Don’t Say,” “I’ll Give That The Consideration It Deserves,” “I Never Would Have Thought of That”

    4. Stranger than fiction

      Oh dear. We have a new customer service rep whom I can hear when she’s making calls. She’s speaking to customers like they’re kindergarteners…turns out her last job was at a theme park.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I worked with an executive who had what I called a Storybook Voice. If he was just talking to you, he was fine, but as soon as he had to read anything, it came out like he was reading a bedtime story — soft and a bit sing-songy. Unfortunately, he was not *my* client or I would have asked him about it and to the best of my knowledge, no one ever mentioned it to him. IIRC, he had three children all under the age of 10, so I could see how it was something that he picked up and just didn’t know he was doing.

    5. Mazzy

      I haven’t experienced parenting, but this brings up another one “trying to mentor/teach when you are not in a position to do either.”

      I currently have a coworker who is five years younger and has about two years less experience in the industry, but loves to get a chance to teach me something, and/or words answers to indicate that I must know nothing about the topic in question, as opposed to just not knowing the specific thing I asked about.

  5. jm

    I have a co-worker who constantly comments about my food, her food, where I’m going for lunch, why she hates to eat, how she wishes she never had to eat ever, etc. I think of the people around the world, and even in my neighborhood, who struggle to find food each day, and all her comments drive me crazy. I don’t think she has an eating disorder, because I never see her weight fluctuate, but I think she has a terrible self-image. If I didn’t feel sorry for her, I would have already gone off on her….

    1. Gabriela

      That does sound irritating, but not all eating disorders come with drastic weight fluctuations. Many normal-weight people with eating disorders are just as ill as low weight people with eating disorders. It may seem like a nitpick (and it does sound like you are treating the situation with as much compassion as you can muster), but just another reason why it is inappropriate to comment on other people’s eating habits.

      1. jm

        Good point — she could have an eating disorder that did not result in any weight fluctuation. At any rate, with the level of focus she has on food/weight/eating/dieting (her own and mine), something is wrong.

        She’s also the person who comments on others taking time off, leaving early, etc., because she is SO busy. All the time. And can never get away for a vacation.

        I’m grateful that all these annoyances are tied up into one co-worker. If they were spread out among many people, I might have to look for a new job…

    2. Bwmn

      The food issue both really bothers me and also makes me feel bad. In a way food and the weather are some of the safest topics for workplace chitchat. But the reality is that the issue can end up being so fraught either in how someone talks about or how someone hears it.

      Unlike politics or religion talking about food can be necessary at many offices (i.e. what do we get to cater this workshop/meeting), but also very generic office talk that many coworkers have every day (what are getting for lunch/do you have recommendations for restaurants in xyz area/etc.) So for people who make inappropriate food comments as well as those more sensitive to food talk, it’s just harder to draw lines. Especially for those with less sensitive social calibration.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Yeah, I admit, until I started reading this blog regularly, I’d make comments just to fill the air. But it was usually just something like “oh that looks yummy”. I’ve stopped doing that now though.

        1. Bwmn

          I think the thing is that most of the stuff we say about food in the office likely is innocuous when it’s in the what are you doing for lunch/that looks or smells tasty/i had the best meal last night/i made the worst meal last night/i can’t wait for pumpkin latte or green garlic season/etc. category.

          I just think that unfortunately there is a significant group of people who tread in to very inappropriate territory as well as some people who do have challenges around a question like “do you have lunch plans today, want to join us?”

          I can’t say I’d want to tell someone new to the job force not to talk about food, because it is more about boundaries than it is about food. But yeah…..perhaps it is just best for people to brush up more on their weather chit chat.

          1. JessaB

            Yeh, or what’s the recipe for that awesome thing you made? but never about what they’re eating/why they’re eating it/how it looks that they’re eating x when they’re skinny or fat, or any talk about food being good or bad. and that includes talking down oneself in front of other people – “OMG I need to run to the gym I had CAKE how horrid of me,” is just as bad as “why are you eating that food?”

    3. OlympiasEpiriot

      One of the people at my company has a cup that says something like “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels”. It is large, bright orange, easy to read and is always prominent on her desk. She’s had it probably for at least 10 years and I’ve been annoyed all that time. I have thought of saying something like “have you ever considered that might be insulting to someone doesn’t share your obsession with thinness? Or even someone who struggles with problems that result in being unable to keep weight on?”

      Haven’t done so because I often sense she really, really would not get my point of view on that and it would be another opportunity to waste my breath.

      1. fposte

        I suppose you could get your own cup that says, “Nothing tastes as good as being smug feels.”

        But it’s also possible this was a dumb present from her sister or something and she doesn’t even notice the statement anymore.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot

          Well, I agree that she probably doesn’t even notice it; but, no I don’t think it was a gift. When I started, she was a tiny bit heavier than she has been for the last 10 (? 12?) years. She did some kind of a diet — I think the cup came with the powders she had to consume — and has stayed at the lower weight. I suppose she felt she needed the reminder.

          That’s the drawback about offices. We all see anything personal that anyone brings in and, like it or not, some kind of judgement happens, conscious or otherwise.

          Not getting a new cup. Mine is a souvenir of Local 113, SEIU-AFL-CIO, Minnesota’s Health Care Union. I thought that, being in ‘management’ in my field, having a Teamster mug would be a little too much; but, I like to make my sympathies known. No matter what complaints there are about unions, I see the stats…construction sites with unions on them are safer. In tunnelling, we say we lose a man a mile. I like safe.

      2. Noodles

        I can attest that ice cream definitely tastes better than being thin feels. Pizza too.

        1. Formica Dinette

          I’d like to add to the list making every phone call on speaker. Get a headset, jerkwad.

              1. knitcrazybooknut

                (Should have phrased as a question or put sarcasm indicators on here. No realism intended; no offense meant whatsoever.) Only smart-ass intentions here!

          1. SusanIvanova

            Two jobs back, in an Office Space-style cube farm (my friend took one look at the place and said “there’s this movie you’ve *got* to see), the guy in the next cube over was placing personal shopping orders over the phone. And giving them his credit card number. And didn’t have an indoor voice. Everyone within a radius of at least 4 cubes could’ve ruined his credit if they’d wanted to.

    4. Wendy Darling

      I sat beside a coworker who was on a really, really extreme health food kick and would comment on how healthy or unhealthy my food was every. Single. Day. Any time I put anything into my mouth she had to let me know whether it was good for me or not, and it usually was not because the only things on her “healthy” list were organic poultry and vegetables. She actually praised me for having roasted vegetables and quinoa for lunch on a few occasions, which was somehow more infuriating than when she told me my curry was going to give me cancer.

      She moved desks and was replaced by someone with very severe food intolerances who every day looked at my lunch, sighed, and said “I wish I could eat that.”

      MY KINGDOM FOR A WORK NEIGHBOR WHO SAYS NOTHING ABOUT MY FOOD.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        Lololololol.

        I might say “Looks good!” I also might ask for a recipe. I promise not to denigrate your food.

        But, I’m someone who has food that smells like food. I like having coworkers who don’t complain about food aromas.

        1. Qmatilda

          Oh Absolutely. I did a long span of time with co-workers where I was the only one not on weight watchers. Every time I sat down I got a lecture as to how many points I was consuming.

          I started messing with them, deliberately trying to bring in high point items, mostly by just guessing.

          stop judging other people’s food choices!!!

          1. Former Retail Manager

            OMG!!!! YES!!! I used to have two lunch buddies who were on Weight Watchers at the same time. It’s like a cult. They were forever talking about it points and variations of recipes to decrease points. It could easily take up a full 30 minute lunch period. Tried Weight Watchers…didn’t like it. To each their own I guess, but I love food. I’ll stay fat, thanks!

            1. Rebecca in Dallas

              Yes, my best work friend was on WW and I almost had to stop eating lunch with her. She never commented on what I ate (thankfully) but it was more a run-down of how many points were in her lunch, what she was going to have for dinner that night, how she’d portioned out her snacks….

              My mom did WW back before it was points, it was basically a food pyramid and you just had to stick to having the correct number of grains, protein, vegetables and fruit and then you had some discretionary calories to use for treats. It seems pretty healthy and most people I know do lose weight and at a healthy rate. But something about those points just makes it seem to consume people’s lives!

              That same work friend also did the HcG diet (where you inject yourself with hormones and only eat 500 calories a day). I had to tell her to stop talking to me about that one because it was horribly unhealthy and I wasn’t going to support her for doing it.

              1. Former Retail Manager

                Yep…I ultimately ended up with only one lunch buddy and she was die hard with the WW…doling out the same info on the daily. I calculated out what WW had me eating in terms of calories and it was like 1,200 a day. Yep, I’ll lose weight, but I might also commit homicide. Kudos to people who can stick with it.

                I also had a co-worker who did the HcG diet. She passed away last year of ovarian cancer and I have always wondered if that diet played a role. She went through the cycle twice and that is a lot of hormones to pump into yourself. There may well be no connection between the two, but it also sounds unsafe to me.

                1. Dynamic Beige

                  I’ve always found it an interesting coincidence that after my mother lost a bunch of weight on the Scarsdale Diet, then gained it all back, then she was diagnosed with cancer. Maybe it was already there and her increased focus on her health/weight loss it was easier to find, I don’t know. People may scoff about toxins and what have you but I just can’t think it’s entirely healthy to do a starvation diet and drop a lot of weight quickly.

              2. YaH

                When my mom was pregnant with me, her OBGYN recommended Weight Watchers (late 70’s) even though she was barely 100 lbs. It wasn’t to lose weight, it was because WW was supposedly a very healthy and balanced food plan.

        2. Wendy Darling

          I have no objection to the vast majority of food smells but my last job had a repeat-offending fish microwaver, and if there’s any justice in the universe that person is going to the special hell with the people who text in the theater.

          1. LD

            And don’t silence their ringer in the theater…then wait and let it go to voice mail…and then let the voice mail notification ring on and on!

          2. OlympiasEpiriot

            The most disgusting smell to me is stuff that it seems the majority of America thinks is ‘odorless’: anything fried or heat-lamped from any of the typical fast food outlets.

            I faaaar prefer homemade Asian cuisines (known for lots of spices) or the tin-of-sardines-on-toast in our kitchen than smelling the pong of a bag from McDonalds or Wendy’s (both are within spitting distance of the office).

            But, because what others eat is none of my biz, I don’t comment. I would like to point out, though, that ALL food has a scent. It just comes down to what kind of scents you think are ‘appropriate’. Most of the comments I read randomly on the internetzz about ‘smelly food’ are not about popcorn or orange peels…they are about foods that are ‘ethnic’. I often remember when reading them how (many decades ago) a town in Ohio made it a rule of the public bus system that you couldn’t ride the bus if you had eaten garlic. Conveniently, that excluded the Polish population at the time. The Poles were also being limited in what jobs would hire them. I’m sure people aren’t thinking like that when they make those comments…

        3. Clever Name

          Oh my God. I have several coworkers (including a friend) who like to go around talking loudly about how bad it smells when certain foods are microwaved. It drives me bonkers and I actually get offended by it. One day, I was like, eff it. I’m bringing in fish. Predictably, my coworker was making jokes about the smell (comparing it to BO). I totally lost it and said, “it was me!! I had the fucking fish!!” Not my best moment, but seriously, comparing someone’s food to BO? Not cool.

      2. Jaydee

        I would say things, but they would probably be “Oh, it smells like curry…yum!” or “That looks delicious, what is it?”

  6. Rat Racer

    This builds a great case for why more employers should let their employees work from home. So many of the items on this list are N/A :
    -No one ever sees what anyone else eats for lunch
    -No one comments on anyone’s appearance or attire
    -No one knows that I sometimes draw cartoon animals in my notebook during boring meetings, and if people are checking facebook or twitter during a meeting, I’m totally unaware
    -No one ever hears anyone’s cell phone ring (although you do hear dogs barking in the background of conference calls from time to time)

    The email, phone and IM etiquette become even MORE important though. Maybe because we can’t annoy each other in other ways.

    1. Kyrielle

      I’ve absolutely heard someone else’s cell phone on a conference call…including one where the guy presenting on the call had to pause the meeting to tell his wife he was in a meeting because she just. kept. calling. back. Apparently it was urgent, sorta, but not so urgent that she couldn’t wait once he explained that he was presenting in a meeting.

      1. Not Karen

        The other week I was on a conference call where we could hear someone dialing into a different conference call…

        1. animaniactoo

          At least 3 times I’ve been on a webconference/presentation, and somebody has put their phone on hold. Which then proceeded to play their company’s hold music all over the presentation. It didn’t help when the meeting host wasn’t familiar enough with the software controls to mute everybody’s lines. They just tried to talk louder over it. Which worked about as well as you might imagine.

          1. OfficePrincess

            I feel you. Our normal system isn’t high tech enough for that, so it happens here at least once a quarter, which at typically 2 calls per week is still too often.

          2. Nada

            I have totally done this. My office got a new phone system, and a week later I had a conference call. Instead of muting myself, I put everyone on the conference call on hold. I subjected 100+ people to my company’s hold music, which probably consists of badly arranged instrumental versions of 90s pop songs. I’m still embarrassed about it.

            1. Cath in Canada

              I recently had to miss a conference call because I was off sick. The person who filled in for me hadn’t used our system before. When I checked my emails later, I saw a very long thread of professors from all around the world saying things like “we have been listening to a muzak version of the Bee Gees for ten minutes, someone save us” and “now this song will never, ever leave my brain”. I think next time I’m off sick the call will probably just get cancelled!

      2. Wendy Darling

        My entire company works remote and I have heard all manner of things in the background of conference calls. People’s kids getting ready for school or getting home from school, someone running the blender, people’s dogs barking or snuffling or squeaking a toy, someone who should be on mute right now Darth Vader breathing down the line…

        I live on a main road near the fire and police stations so anyone on a conference call with me gets occasional loud sirens. I’m used to it but it turns out other people are not.

        1. Kelly L.

          Now remembering the LW whose roommates were loudly…ducking…while she was trying to have a conference call with her co-workers. Aaaaggghhhhh!

        2. Kay

          I misread that as “someone ruining the blender” and I laughed pretty hard at it.

          1. TL17

            I’ve personally ruined 2 blenders, both in very noisy (and one smoke-filled) fashion. Would’ve been hilarious conference calls.

  7. Minion

    I may or may not be guilty of the last. I don’t generally use pop music as my ringtone, but I had a hard rock version of The Walking Dead theme on for a while. Right now it’s the theme music for Harry Potter. I have my own office though, so even when I leave my phone here it shouldn’t disturb anyone else. If it were really loud others could hear it through the walls, but it’s not loud at all.
    So…I don’t think I’m disturbing others, but I could be. I’ll just check myself before I wreck myself. Yeah…I know. That was cheesy. I’m a cheesy kinda person.
    Did you know that cows are outstanding in their fields?

    1. Lily Evans

      My ringtone is also theme music from Harry Potter! I love it, but my phone’s on silent 99% of the time so I never really hear it…

  8. Karowen

    Oh my god…years ago, my boss had the ringtone “whistling wizard.” Very distinctive, very distracting. She left her phone on her desk at full volume when she went to a meeting, but didn’t tell her SO that she was going to be in a meeting so couldn’t go to lunch at whatever time. So she left, her SO pulled up, and proceeded to call her phone NON. STOP. for about 45 minutes.

    It was the most maddening thing I’ve ever experienced. We closed her office door after about 10-15 minutes, but you could still hear it throughout the entire lobby and our entire office. I still have the ringtone memorized because of that incident.

    1. KR

      My boss’s ringtone can get really annoying sometimes. He doesn’t mute it pre-meeting unless he’s going into ultra important meetings too, so sometimes we’ll be in the middle of meetings and his phone goes off with wild abandon. He’s the one in charge so he can do what he wants, but I do get annoyed sometimes.

    2. Government Worker

      I was so happy when cell phones started having physical mute/silence switches instead of having to go into settings to turn it off. Most of my coworkers and I at a previous job had comfortable enough relationships that when things like this happened I would just go over and switch the phone to vibrate, then mention it when the person came back to their desk or leave a note. We mostly had iPhones so it was easy to know how to turn off the sound – I assume many other phones have similar switches, but I’d be more reluctant to attempt to change the settings on a phone that’s not just like mine.

    3. Ama

      She definitely should have turned it off, but I have also never understood the people who don’t get an answer and just keep calling.

      1. Karowen

        Yeah, I wasn’t happy with either of them by the end of that day. We were genuinely considering going outside and telling him to knock it off.

      2. Elsajeni

        Yes — I had a college roommate whose mom would do this, and I got much more irritated at the mom than at the roommate. She’s NOT HERE! Just like she is NEVER here from 2:30 to 4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Leave a message! And then write down her class schedule or something!

      3. catsAreCool

        Yeah, even if it’s a real emergency, call a couple of times, send a text and an e-mail and then just go ahead and deal with the emergency! Come to think of it, if it was a real emergency, no one would have time to be constantly calling, would they?

  9. Allison

    Your phone volume should be inversely proportional to how often it goes off. If you rarely get calls or texts during the workday, it can make some noise. If your phone sees a little activity throughout the day, vibrate is fine. If your phone blows up all day with calls, texts, notifications, e-mails, etc, put it on mute.

    1. Creag an Tuire

      I’m a big fan of selective call-blockers/muters (I use “Night’s Keeper” but there are a bunch out there) during the workday — if the call is from my “whitelist” (basically just my wife and childcare) it rings as loud as you like, otherwise it’s silenced.

      1. rory

        I use the Silence app to control various things on my phone based on the time of day, it’s really great to have things on/off while I’m at work vs at home.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas

      I very rarely get calls on my cell phone during the day, I always turn it down to vibrate. But I actually forget to turn it back up when I leave, so it’s not unusual for me to miss calls/texts and not know until the next time I go to plug my phone in. Whoops!

      1. Allison

        Same here, my phone is pretty much always on vibrate except for when I’m expecting a call.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I don’t either, but I try to keep it turned low so I don’t miss something that might be important, because people rarely call me unless it IS important. I had Big Ben as a ringtone recently (its Westminster chime) and if I forgot to turn the volume down, it would go “BONG BONG BONG BONNNNGGG BONG BONG BONG BOONNNNNNG!” It would sometimes even scare me at home.

  10. Bob

    For “Playing the martyr”, I think sort of depends on your company’s culture. Some places expect long hours, late nights and weekends. I’ve worked at those places and it can often be a bragging contest about who worked later. You actually risk looking like a slacker by leaving at 5 PM.

    However, some companies are a ghost town by 5:15 PM and those places tend to not give extra credit for extra hours. I work at a place like that now and it took some time to adjust. My team has to stay if there are issues so I’m often one of the only ones in a very large building. I’ve often overheard VP’s (who leave a hair later but still usually before 6 PM) stop at employees’ desks and ask why they are still here. Once a VP bluntly asked an employee why they were less effective than their co-workers who all left at 5 PM. Ouch! I’m not sure if it is even possible to be a martyr in a company like mine.

    1. Lois

      We often work long hours, but there are still people who take it to martyr-level. There’s one woman who will respond to every request (e.g. “Can you send me that normal report we do every single month?”) with a litany about how she’s not sure when she’ll find the time, it’s so busy, did you know that other thing she does every month is also due in two weeks? And every meeting we’re in will have, at some point, a list of all the important things she is so so busy with right now.

      Sure she’s busy, but it’s the unsolicited sharing her to-do list with everybody that makes it annoying.

    2. MsMaryMary

      Even at places where the company culture is to work a lot of hours, no one really wants to hear you complain/brag about how many hours you’re working. As I used to say, there are no winners in the Who Works More contest, only losers.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I’ve never understood this, either. I knew someone who wouldn’t talk about how much she had worked, but how much she hadn’t slept. I’m sorry but “I haven’t slept in three days!” is really a Bad Thing, not something praiseworthy. If it really is that bad, then you need help, not commiseration!

  11. KR

    I’m in complete agreement about the not-parenting-your-coworkers thing. As the youngest person in the office (except the people I manage, who are rarely in the office during normal office times), I get a lot of people trying to parent me since their children are usually my age. Just yesterday, I was in someone’s office where there is some construction work going on outside on the sidewalk. They were imploring me to not walk in the road and offering multiple times to walk me through the building so I could go out a different route and then quizzing me on how I got in the office in the first place to avoid the construction. I won’t get hit by a car and if I do it’s not your problem! Just let me handle it!

  12. GG

    When I read the bit about following up an email with a phone call, at first I thought it was going to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves, which actually just happened again this morning…

    When I send you an email with a procedural question, PLEASE reply with an email.

    Okay, yeah, I get that there are times it’s quicker to talk something out if it’s complicated. But when I’ve emailed you to ask if you’d rather I use Method A or Method B, a phone call is not required. And now, since you called rather than email your reply, I don’t have any record of your answer that I can search for when this obscure thing comes up again two years down the road.

    1. AnotherAlison

      And, while it’s quicker to “talk something out” I’m probably going to ask you to put that in an email anyway. A lot of the time, I’m asking a project team member a question on the client’s behalf, and I would rather not play the grown-up version of the telephone game, where inevitably what I put in the email to the client is not quite what you said on the phone. (Just today, I was speaking with a fire protection engineer, and he said what I thought was “NFPA 50” at least 3 times before I caught that he was saying “NFPA 15”.)

    2. Nicole

      I agree it’s annoying but I just edit my sent email with the date and my notes that so-and-so called to discuss and here’s the end result of that convo. Then I save a copy of that to whatever folder I would have saved their reply in so I have it as a reference later on.

    3. LiveAndLetDie

      I feel this same way about scheduling requests. I request them in email so that I can drop them in my “Scheduling” folder for reference, so that if for some reason it doesn’t make it onto my calendar, I have a reference to check before I start calling people on days I’ve approved off. If my employees ask me for time off verbally, all I do is say, “Send me an email” anyway.

  13. nep

    I had a co-worker years ago who would regularly argue with her fiance-then-husband on the phone at her desk. Not loud fighting but just long, drawn-out arguments. Open office space so we were all right there. Jeeeez.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      I had a coworker who was loudly imploring her boyfriend (who was also a member of our nonprofit board) not to break up with her. I mean, this conversation was over 45 minutes of her wheedling and wailing, “You’re WALKING AWAY from the BEST THING that’s EVER HAPPENED to you!!!” I thought to myself, “Well, look like he doesn’t think you’re the best thing that ever happened to him . . . “

    2. Qmatilda

      And I now apologize to everyone that had to hear me argue with my then fiance (now ex-husband) when I was planning our wedding. “no you cannot decide you don’t like the three invitation options if you won’t pick them out yourself. I’ve narrowed it to these from a billion. ” Repeat process for every. single. thing.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      My cube neighbor (and would-be mentor, but that’s a whoooole other story) went through a divorce, and while I felt really bad for her, I got to a point where I would just get irritated because she spent so much time crying loudly on the phone with “Mommy” and “Daddy” or her lawyer or the shop she was trying to sell her wedding ring to… on and on. It was a mercy the days she was out of the office. Hard to tell someone to pipe down under those circumstances but ugh.

  14. Meg Murry

    Along the same lines as the annoying ringtone, do not set your computer to make noise every time you get a new email. Especially if you work in an open space or cubicle environment. And doubly so when you get 200+ emails a day, many of which to the all-staff email list, so EVERY time your computer checks for new emails (every 5-15 minutes) it makes the noise.

    I worked in an office where the default was for the computer to ding every time it got a new email, and some people started turning those into other sounds as well (one person who didn’t sit near me, thank goodness, used a Chewbacca roar and it drove me batty anytime I had to talk to someone in a neighboring cube). I implored IT to remove the sound as the default, to no avail. I turned mine off (and wound up turning off email notifications in general for large parts of the day so I could get something done) but I still jumped every time my cube neighbor’s notifications went off.

    Along the same lines – if you put your phone on vibrate but then leave it on a metal desk and disappear for multiple hours, don’t be surprised if you come back to find your phone on the floor. Possibly because it walked itself there every time it vibrated, or possibly because your neighbors put it there so their own desks would stop rattling.

    1. Allison

      Yes, I agree! I think your computer should be on mute as a default, and only make noise when you need the sound, like if you’re using it for a conference call or training video.

    2. A Bug!

      Along the same lines – if you put your phone on vibrate but then leave it on a metal desk and disappear for multiple hours

      I don’t really understand the reasoning behind putting your phone on vibrate and then placing it in a spot where you hear the vibrations rather than feel them. If you’re in a context where phone noises are frowned upon, how is that any different from a ringer?

      (And to show my bias here, I’ll admit that a phone vibrating against a hard surface puts me on edge much more easily than even fairly obnoxious ringtones.)

  15. LawCat

    “[M]ake sure your ringer is something discreet and professional…”

    A friend’s company was bought by another company. There was a big meeting scheduled with employees to address many issues including the possibility of layoffs. During a quiet moment in the meeting, my friend’s phone goes off. It was the theme song from Jaws.

    1. Not Karen

      Ha! I once had a boss whose ringer was a fire alarm. Scared the crap out of me every time.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      I usually always have my phone set on vibrate or mute when I’m at work. However, I was in class one time, taking some French on our university campus with a bunch of traditional freshmen, when my phone started ringing, and it was “Roxanne”. I’m in my forties and pretty quiet and reserved, and all the students and the graduate assistant thought it was so damn funny.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        The funny part was, I only used that ringtone for my homeowner’s company, because they were always calling and wanting me to come in to review my coverage so they could upsell me some add-ons. I set that ringtone for them so it would alert me not to answer the phone.

    3. Former Retail Manager

      HA! I too find it hilarious. I used to have different ringtones set for different people. My mom’s ringtone was an Elvis song, my daughter’s was Jessie’s Girl (she liked it as a kid) and my husband’s was Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On….totally intended to be facetious/tongue-in-cheek, not to skeeve out my co-workers. Well, on one super rare occasion, my phone wasn’t on silent and my cubicle bestie heard it (ringer was by no means on full blast). She said she felt “offended” and this person was my friend. Which brings me to #8 that didn’t make the list…..co-workers with no sense of humor who are easily offended.

  16. Amber Rose

    Can we add The Apologizer? There’s a dude in my office who prefaces every request with 5 minutes of apologies for bothering me. I just want to say: This is my job. It’s not only OK to ask questions/hand off work to me, it’s required. Please get to the damn point.

    1. KR

      I get this a lot in IT – it’s okay to ask me questions or ask me to fix things or ask how programs work! As long as you’re polite and reasonable, I don’t mind.

        1. Anna the Accounting Grad

          Only if they’re routinely, excessively, pompously verbose.

    2. AnotherAlison

      And also the person who asks “is now a good time to talk” on a phone call that takes 2 minutes anyway? We spend more time on the “is now a good time to talk” part of the call than the rest of the conversation.

      There are times when this makes sense, like when you’ve squeezed in a 30-minute conference call into someone’s schedule at the last minute, but otherwise, assume if I answered the phone, I have a minute to talk to you. If I don’t, I’m fairly willing to volunteer to you that I’m walking out the door, but will call you back after lunch (or whatever).

      1. AthenaC

        Oh. See, now I wonder if I annoy people because I always ask “Do you have a minute?” before beginning a work conversation. I always saw it as being respectful of the other person’s time, especially since my job is to be a professional nuisance … err … auditor. I would think it would be more annoying to just launch right into what you need to talk about without the minimal pleasantry of permission to continue the conversation.

        1. Lois

          I’d appreciate that. Either your question is straightforward (email it), or you don’t know how detailed the answer would be (conversation). If it’s the latter, since you don’t know, it makes sense that the conversation might go fast or it might be quite distracting.

          1. Miko

            A coworker does this to a senior colleague who sits next to me, and it drives the senior guy crazy. “Do you have a minute?” *pause*… Senior colleague has so many things to do and has actively been trying to discourage random interruptions (while remaining accessible for real problems), but how can he decide with no context? I can see the frustration on his face every time and I have no idea how the other colleague doesn’t see it. It’s not always rude to skip pleasantries – in many cases stating basic information up front is necessary for the other person to judge whether the interruption is worthwhile.

        2. AnotherAlison

          I would see the in-person situation a little differently. If I answer the phone, I had an opportunity to judge if now was a good time to pick up. I could have let it go to voicemail. If you come by my desk, you can’t necessarily tell how busy I am with what I’m doing. It makes more sense to interrupt someone that way in person.

          1. Karowen

            Eh, but I also know that – for instance – my boss is likely to pick up for me regardless because my phone questions are typically a two-second thing. So if he picks up for me and I know it’s going to be longer, I want to give him a warning – and then, if he says he only has a minute (which has happened) I can table it til later in the day.

          2. AthenaC

            And that might be true for you, but everyone’s a bit different. If I pick up the phone, I may have just enough time for a simple, yes-no question, but something as long as 5 minutes I might have to put off until later. On the other hand, I might be between tasks anyway so this is a perfect time to have that 15+ minute chat you wanted to have.

            Simply because everyone’s different, I generally err on the side of politeness, but this comment thread has just underscored to me that no matter what you do there is always someone who will be annoyed for reasons that seem completely self-evident to them.
            : -/

        3. Nancypie

          I like that. It gives me an opportunity to say, yes, if it will truly take a minute, but if it’s more involved I can talk to them about whatever at 2.

        4. Granite

          Oooo. Professional nuisance. I like that. I should make that my Linkedin profile title.

    3. DeskBird

      Do you work where I work?? There is a guy that will spend 5 minutes apologizing for taking up your time to ask you something. You would take up a lot less of my time if you didn’t need to apologize so much! Dives me nutty!

    4. Rebecca in Dallas

      I have a coworker who does this. And she’ll also preface every question with, “This is a stupid question, but…”

    5. Hattie McDoogal

      I have a coworker who doesn’t like to “interrupt” me, as he sees it, so instead of saying hello or asking if I have a minute when he wants to come talk to me, he just stands in the door of my office silently until I look up. And he walks really quietly so I never hear him coming!

      1. SusanIvanova

        Other than the being too quiet to be noticed, that’s proper etiquette for software engineers – if we’re head down in our computers, you can knock softly, but anything more may interrupt a thought process that took quite some time to reach, and it can take quite some time to get it back. (There are studies that prove this. Or consider what happened to the rest of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”.) So knock once and then just *stand there*. I had a co-worker once – sales, I think, definitely not engineering – who’d just get louder and more insistent if he didn’t get a response within *seconds* and it drove me nuts. If you only need a minute from me, you can wait a minute before getting your answer to “do you have a minute”!

  17. animaniactoo

    I know exactly how I’m annoying my co-workers.

    1) I talk too much (usually socially). However, as I have explained to all of them – my main goal in life is to be better than my father and I am. I work very hard to be only about 60% as bad as he is*, so… sorry guys, this is what I got. Fwiw, I’m very open to being told to shut up and go away.

    2) On work matters I have a hard time letting go of a point until I’m sure everyone is clear on it and I work hard on trying to see the boundary and when it’s time to stop pushing. However, this also often has beneficial results so they’ve come to put up with it and it annoys them less than it used to.

    * It was very useful when a family friend worked here and was able to back me up on this. There was some disbelief until she mentioned once asking something random about a pencil and receiving a 4-hour discourse on the history of the pencil. Note: This was probably not 4 entire hours, just that he kept returning to the topic over the course of the next 4 hours whenever he could grab the floor from the interruptions that were probably attempts to save her. We love my father, we do. But, sometimes…

  18. SJ

    I work with a number of martyrs, but the person running a project I’m helping out with right now is my biggest current problem. She doesn’t hesitate to let you know how she’s been too busy to eat lunch or what have you.

    1. Victoria, Please

      Get back to me when you get a UTI because you think you’re too busy to pee. (This didn’t happen to me, but to a faculty member colleague. I was not sympathetic.)

      1. Wendy Darling

        UTIs are nature’s way of letting you know you are never too busy to pee.

  19. The Optimizer

    I normally work from home but had to spend a few weeks in a new client’s office a while back. Day One, I ride the bus into downtown and make the 5 block trek to the office with my ringer on high since I was expecting a call. I get in and immediately need to use the bathroom, forgetting my phone in the pocket of my coat.

    Of course, the call I was expecting comes through then and when I didn’t answer, they tried a few more times. My ringtone: “MF-er” by AWOLNATION. Not the best first impression but I’ll never repeat that mistake again!

    1. AnotherAlison

      Ouch!

      I’ve always had a generic, comes-with-the-phone ringtone, and I always click my phone over to vibrate once I get to work. But, the one time I didn’t remember to put my phone on vibrate AND received a call when I wasn’t at my desk was the time that I had my phone on DMX’s “Party Up (Up in Here)”.

    2. So Very Anonymous

      Back when I had a flip phone (old!) I somehow thought song tones were wordless electronic-music versions of song melodies. So I downloaded Social Distortion’s “Ball and Chain” thinking I’d get, well, that. The mortification of having your cell phone ring be a snarling “I’m SICK and I’m TIRED and I can’t stand any more pain.” … (I should really have just set it so that was the ring I’d get if my doctor’s office called…)

  20. ElleKat

    Can we also add the Rambler – those that leave voice mail messages so long that the system cuts them off mid-word?

    1. some1

      I had a coworker who would do this over email. I ordered stock of our products for employee use in the office and she would send five to six paragraphs on what she needed and why. All I needed was:

      Dear Some1,

      Please order me one large vanilla teapot #1234. I need it by next Thursday.

      Thanks, Wakeeen

    2. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.

      I worked with one of these. It didn’t matter if it was in person or via VM she would not shut up. And half way through her story she’d take a deep breath and say “So, in a nutshell…” and then proceed to go on again at least as long as she already had.

      1. AnotherAlison

        I have a pet peeve about people who say “in a nutshell” in a professional setting, even if it’s not a long-winded rambler. How about just saying, “To sum up my earlier points” or something.

      2. Elizabeth West

        Someone I work with is like that. She will send me these long emails and she doesnt’ use any paragraph breaks. I almost have to read them out loud to figure out what she’s trying to tell me.

    3. OfficePrincess

      This goes doubly for Ramblers who are leaving you a message to give to someone else. The other day I came in and had “Hi OfficePrincess I’m trying to get a hold of OperationsDude…blah blah drama drama drama drama…”. And when I didn’t respond within the hour (because it was SATURDAY) he called again. And again. Luckily, our voicemail goes to our email, so I could forward the whole mess to the one who should handle it.

    4. LiveAndLetDie

      I have a peer who is a Rambler! Weekly meetings that he is not attending are routinely 15 minutes shorter than meetings with him included. It’s obnoxious.

  21. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.

    We’re supposed to have our phones on silent here. Vibrate is fine but because our work is very head down and focused, a cell phone going off is very distracting. One of my coworkers doesn’t turn hers off and it drives me nuts. And I can’t say anything because I am “new” to the neighborhood, having moved from a different part of the floor and she’s buddies with everyone else nearby so if I tell her manager, she’ll know who turned her in.

  22. some1

    CCing the manager: I’ve been an admin a long time, where you usually report to someone that you aren’t supporting. So when people CC my manager as a passive-aggressive move, it’s not even the correct manager. :)

  23. Catabouda

    One thing about the ring tones – a coworker has the Darth Vader theme music as the ringtone for his wife. I’ve always wondered if she knows that’s her ringtone.

    1. Minion

      I would be absolutely thrilled if my husband had that ringtone for me. That would be so wonderful. No sarcasm.

    2. justsomeone

      My husband used to have that for his dad. And then his dad found out—he was not happy….

    3. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.

      That’s the ringtone for my husband. At his request.

    4. AnotherAlison

      One of the guys on my son’s baseball team has that for his walk up song. They all decided to pick something funny for their songs this year, and I think they learned a lesson from it. If you have 4 at bats/game over 10 home games, hearing 20 seconds of a stupid song 40 times gets old. (For those who wouldn’t think Darth Vader would get old, someone had Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA. . .)

      1. Catabouda

        I actually think it’s great, but as I said, I’ve always wondered if she knew. Could be that she knows and loves it. I should just ask him about it.

    5. Former Retail Manager

      My husband has that for me…obviously I know….and I find it hilarious.

    6. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I had “Night on Bald Mountain” for my jerk of a father. He was sooooo not pleased! Very defensive about that thin spot, you know.

  24. C Average

    I definitely used to be the always-cc-the-manager person, but it wasn’t a passive-aggressive thing, I swear!

    Early in my career I was given a lot of autonomy in an area that was evolving quickly and growing in strategic importance for our company, and I often found myself dealing with situations that went from No Big Deal to Way The Hell Over My Pay Grade in 60 seconds. I’d then have to figure out what to do and, knowing the matter was too important for me to make a unilateral decision, I’d loop in my manager and/or the manager of the person to whom I was reaching out (who was often someone relatively junior, like me). I’d have to recap the whole chain of events, which was often challenging and drama-infused.

    I wound up cc’ing higher-ups every time I thought something had potential to go from a Category 2 storm to a genuine shitstorm, which was . . . often. And my instincts were usually right in the end, but I know a lot of the emails from the storm-is-gathering-strength period probably made the managers who were copied scratch their heads and say, “Why?”

    What’s the best course of action when you’re dealing with something that seems like it has the strong potential to become important enough to inform the manager(s), but it hasn’t yet reached that level of importance? Is it better to loop them in early (when the situation is still developing) or later (when you’ll need to recap it for them)?

    1. animaniactoo

      for stuff like that, I’ll forward the chain to my manager with an “fyi, just in case this becomes an issue”.

      That way she’s not on the chain where it looks like I’m trying to add visibility/pressure to a situation, but she knows about it if I end up having to pull her into the loop.

      1. Lois

        Agreed. At my office we have this annoying culture of cc the manager on everything (not my manager’s idea, so she doesn’t look at emails that were sent to me directly). If something seems like it’ll need higher approval, problems, drama with other departments, then I tell her about it directly. “Hey Jane, there’s been some confusion building about ABC, and I think Susan is going to dislike how it’s been handled and bring it up with Fred. FYI in case Fred brings it up with you. [backstory]”

    2. Lynn Whitehat

      I used to have a manager that required everyone under him bcc him on EVERY email we sent. If we ever forgot, no matter how trivial the issue, he would get up in arms about “sneaking around behind his back”. I looked for an email plug-in that would bcc him automatically, but there isn’t one, I guess because this particular form of insanity is rare.

      1. De Minimis

        Somewhat similar, the expectation at my work is that if there are other people CC’d on an e-mail, you ALWAYS “reply all,” no matter how minor the issue or if it really only has to do with you and one of the other people. Goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about e-mail use in the workplace, but that’s how it is.

  25. the gold digger

    When your company uses outlook calendar for scheduling meetings and

    1. You do not keep your calendar current
    2. When I send you a meeting request, you decline immediately. With no explanation.
    3. When I send the next meeting request, you decline again. With no explanation.
    4. When I send an email asking when you can meet, you tell me that Oh! You are at a trade show that week! But you think it’s cancelled so go ahead and try for date A and date day after A.
    5. When you decline the meeting request I send for date A.
    6. When you ask me to work with your admin to find a time that you can meet.
    7. And your admin still, two work days later, has not gotten back to me.

    1. Merry and Bright

      +100 I have been there so many times.

      On the calendar not being updated, I have a coworker who does not use her calendar at all – because she likes a pen-and-ink paper diary instead.

      1. Not Karen

        I’ve had to deal with someone like that as well. She expected me to also either have my calendar memorized or on me at all times.

      2. De Minimis

        My boss does this as well, doesn’t use the calendar though in general people are supposed to keep some kind of electronic copy of their schedule.

        1. Collingwood21

          Or you have a colleague who puts a lot of personal stuff in their work Outlook calendar and never manages to learn how to use the “private appointment” setting, despite the fact calendars are fully visible across the organisation. I need to know you are not available that afternoon. I don’t need to know the details of your hospital appointment.

    2. MsMaryMary

      I have a coworker who does not respond to meeting requests, especially non-client facing meetings, until the day of. Like, are you waiting for a better offer to come along?

      Today he also came over to tell me that he would not be attending a client meeting about five minutes before we had to leave. He wasn’t a must-have for the meeting, so that part was okay. He said he didn’t think it was on his calendar (it was) and that he had never accepted the invitation (he did).

      He’s also a champion martyr but doesn’t recognize that he is horrible at managing his own time. He’s been on my last nerve lately.

    3. Sophia Brooks

      How about when the admin is a delegate but wants you to call or email her to check availability before sending the meeting request. I can see the availability!

      My other pet peeve is other admins who put me (the delegate) as invited to things that are really for my boss. I already see them. I can never tell if this is something for me, or something for both of us, because we often are invited to the same things.

      The third is people who contact me for my bosses’ availability when we keep everything in Outlook. I say this, but they still want me to stay on the phone with them until they find a time. Grrrr.

    4. Girasol

      I hate the ones who accept and don’t show or the ones who decline and then ask why I rescheduled the meeting because they were planning on going.

  26. Student

    What is a good way to tell an employee that they really need to stop following up on email immediately in-person? Examples are telling me over the cube wall that he just sent out a meeting invite, coming over to my cube immediately after sending me an email to ask my input on its contents (sometimes before it hits my inbox). I feel like an explanation of synchronous vs asynchronous communication and their respective uses and merits is patronizing and too broad. “Stop telling me you just sent me an email,” is a bit too imperial for our office culture. Something in between would be ideal.

    1. The Other Dawn

      UGH a former executive at my last company always did this. He would send me an email, and then come over and tell me he sent me an email. And when I sent HIM an email, he would print it out, bring it to me, slap it on my desk, and tell me he read my email. Then he would proceed with the answer verbally. Um, no. I emailed you because I need your answer in writing for CYA purposes. Every time I would tell him to go back to his desk and email it to me. (This wasn’t just my personal preference; I’m in Banking and we need documentation on certain things.) When he tried to leave the printed email on my desk I would tell him not to forget his piece of paper. That last part was because he was an arrogant pompous ass and I wanted to exert the tiniest bit of control over him, even though he was the EVP. :)

    2. Anon Accountant

      Would “I usually check my email every 30 minutes because I have a tendency to get wrapped up in what I’m working on? But I’ll get back to you if I have questions. Thanks!” be too harsh for your office?

    3. Sadsack

      How about, “Can you give me some time to read and digest your email on my own? Then I promise I’ll get back to you.”

    4. Mephyle

      If you answer them in person, they will continue to do it on future occasions because it got them results.

  27. HRG

    I have a coworker that allows her cell phone to ring loudly throughout the day AND is a martyr. Every time her phone goes off it’s an excuse to claim that someone from work is sending her yet another text or email or giving her a call and she’s already soooooo busy. It drives me insane.

  28. The Other Dawn

    A former co-worker of mine always had her phone on full blast. Not only did we hear her ringer all the time, but we got to hear her playing Angry Birds while she should be working on Board reports.

    1. Janice in Accounting

      In a meeting once a coworker accidentally turned his volume on, and the Candy Crush music started playing. It was hilarious (not to him though).

  29. Hlyssande

    My manager/grandboss uses a recording of his dog barking (awww) for his notifications on computer and phone. It’s cute the first 50 times, but he’s used it for years. And doesn’t mute the cell phone while he’s on speaker in his office.

    He’s also one of those people who makes a lot of loud mouth eating/drinking noises while speaking on conference calls.

  30. Nodoze

    Can we add people who demand you acknowledge their presence whenever they feel they need it? I had a coworker who would walk around and say goodbye individually to every person when he was done for the day. We all worked different shifts, so the rest of us would be firmly entrenched in our work (we did transcription, so we all had headphones on). He would stop by your desk and expect you to remove your headphones and say goodbye to him. I stopped doing it and it got the point where he would lean in two inches from my face until I noticed him and said goodbye. He did that twice, and the third time I told him to stop doing it because it was freaking me out. After that he just stopped talking to me altogether, which was frankly the best possible outcome.

    1. Guest

      I’very actually encountered a few people like that. It’s like they can’t stand not being noticed, though I’ve never seen anyone get up in someone’s face to get a response. That’s just weird

  31. DeskBird

    My big e-mail pet peeve comes from one co-worker: whenever I email him a simple request “Are the New Teapots pink or blue” for SOME REASON he can never just email me back – instead he calls me as soon as he gets the email and rambles on and on. This guy somehow turns into a double talker on the phone and I’m never sure what he’s trying to tell me. I want that email so I can have a record of your answer – so i can forward a record of you saying the teapots are pink to the people who need to know. Also so I actually know what color the teapots are – not get into a conversation about how you saved the teapots from getting blown up. I’ve found if i just ignore his calls he’ll eventually just email me back. But every time I send him an email and my phone rings 15 minutes later with his caller id I hulk out a little bit…. inside.

  32. anon for this

    What about the co-worker who forwards e-mails to the whole office that we have already been cc’d on? An example would be an e-mail that asks the whole office about their thoughts on a procedure. Most of us reply with our thoughts so we end up with an e-mail chain that has about 8 replies to one another and then the oblivious co-worker forwards that entire e-mail chain to us all with FYI as his contribution. Why do we need an FYI when we have all already contributed to the conversation? He also forwards about a third of the boss’s e-mails to us and relabels them as important, the boss is included in the forwarding.

  33. Anonymousaurus Rex

    My new coworker is a dietician. The comments are excruciating, whether they are positive or negative. It’s particularly frustrating because it’s part of her job to evaluate people’s food choices–but not part of her job to evaluate mine.

    1. De Minimis

      I’ve worked at a couple of places with dietitians, they always seemed to only express opinions about food choices if they were dealing with patients, if they were on their own time they kept their food advice to themselves!

  34. Rebecca in Dallas

    Funny story about the people who leave their cell phones on.

    We work in an open office plan, one coworker (we’ll call her Michelle) always had the ringer on her cell phone up really loud, it was an AC/DC song I believe. And *every* time her phone rang, she’d frantically turn it down, “So sorry, guys!” One day, her cell phone rang and she was at someone else’s cube and didn’t hear it (just far enough away or caught up in her conversation or something). Then the voice mail notification went off, then her text notification. Then it rang again, then voice mail, then text. And so on, whoever was trying to get a hold of her was just blowing up her phone!

    So of course the office busy body, Sharon, flounces over to Michelle’s desk. She picks up the phone, saying out loud to nobody in particular that she was going to try to turn it off. While it’s in her hand, the text notification goes off again. So she calls across the office, “MICHELLE! YOUR HUSBAND CAN’T FIND HIS WALLET! HE NEEDS YOU TO CALL HIM BACK!”

    1. Mazzy

      That’s the way to handle it! What I don’t get is that people don’t realize other people see who is calling/texting on the iphone when you leave it on your desk like this. Sometimes that alone can start rumors. For example, if two coworkers in the office keep texting eachother…

  35. Lynn Whitehat

    So what goes through the minds of the Food Police and Everybody’s Mom? What is the thought process that produces this behavior? It is so, so foreign to me. Are they really thinking “I better remind Joel that he’s Jewish so he doesn’t eat all the ham”, or “I should tell everyone to wear a coat to lunch, because I’m the only person smart enough to remember that it’s winter”? How do they suppose we got this far without their wise guidance? How do they think we manage on the weekends without them?

    If you are either of these types, I’m begging you, stop now. It’s not cute or caring or whatever you think it is. It’s unbelievably condescending.

    1. Isben Takes Tea

      I bet for a bunch of them there is no thought process–it’s just how they’ve trained themselves to operate.

      But I agree with you completely.

  36. Dynamic Beige

    I guess offices have changed since I had to be in one constantly because where is the “playing music/radio that no one likes/too loudly”? That used to drive me crazy.

    1. nerfherder

      We had a receptionist who would listen to her music and sing along. Badly.

  37. You Want Me to Say What???

    One of the senior partners thinks they’re a parent to everyone. One employee recently let it slip that he hasn’t been well lately. As the HR person, the partner asked me about it and I passed on the little information I had. The partner then proceeded to tell me that I should tell the employee that he needed to see another doctor to get a second opinion. I understand being concerned about an employee’s well-being but that really feels like crossing the line.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot

      We’ve got an HR person who regularly crosses that line herself. Very annoying.

  38. Parfait

    I have a colleague who’s horrible about the food policing. No matter what I’m eating, she has to comment and assign a value judgement. Eating french fries? “Oooh, you’re being so BAD!” Eating an apple? “Ooh, you’re being so GOOD!”

    Makes me nuts. Foods are neither good nor evil!

    1. Sherry

      Ugh. I have a coworker who can’t visit the candy jar without loudly proclaiming that she’s being “bad.” Nobody cares, and M&Ms aren’t evil!

  39. Respect My Personal Space

    How about not barging into my cubicle and immediately talking to me about something without giving me a chance to finish what I’m currently working on it? Also, don’t stand so close to me your crotch is practically in my face. It’s very uncomfortable and New Guy does both EVERY TIME he needs to speak to me. Now I cringe whenever I hear him approaching (he has a distinct walk).

  40. Alton

    Hmm…I see the point on the “following up an e-mail with a call” thing, and I do make a point of giving people a bit to respond before I call or send another e-mail.

    But there are also times when I have to send time-sensitive info via e-mail, and, knowing that the recipients get a ridiculous number of e-mails, I do find that it’s helpful to give them a call. Not in an impatient, “Have you gotten my e-mail yet???” way but in a “Hey, FYI, I just e-mailed you the info you need for the thing that’s due on Monday.” The sense I’ve gotten is that this is appreciated.

  41. SaraV

    Hello, my name is SaraV, and I have a bit of a martyr streak in me. I need to better myself on this.

    My cell phone story involves my husband. He was at an event involving others that had a similar role as him. They were sitting at a communal table when his phone buzzed. Not sure if his cell was that violent, or the table was a bit “loosey-goosey”, but the whole table vibrated. One of his cohorts leaned over and said “Geez, Mr SaraV, do you have that thing set on stun?”

  42. Pumpkin scone

    The reply-all abuser. If everyone needs to see your reply because it’s a discussion, fine. But RSVPing to an event? Saying no, the found umbrella in the mail room isn’t yours? Sending your schedule for a meeting? OMG, how do I unsubscribe???

  43. nerfherder

    I have a colleague who tries to be everybody’s friend. “Did you get your car fixed? Why not? When are you getting your car fixed?” Like that. It doesn’t stop. One time he asked me what church I go to. I told him that I dont’ go to church and tried to just leave it there, but he insisted on an explanation. He asked me again the next day.

    If you try to explain something to him (he’s new and inexperienced) he will interrupt you and try to finish your explanation, but he’s always wrong. I so want to tell him to just shut up and listen.

  44. Cath in Canada

    I try not to do the martyr thing too much, despite it being something of a family tradition! However, I do usually mention it at work when I’ve had a very early morning teleconference. (Each month I have one at 5 am, one at 5:30, and one at 6). It’s usually in the context of explaining why I’m yawning at work (I have meetings that go until 5 pm on some of my early start days, so I can’t leave early), but I’m also aware that some people are jealous that I get to go to international conferences related to the calls and I somehow feel the need to justify that I’m “earning” those trips!

  45. Fed Up

    My closest “co-worker” is a goldbricker, an eye-servant (tries to work when the boss can see her, tries to avoid it when he can’t). I have a decent work ethic, but even so I’ve started slowing down so I’m only doing approximately my half of the work because she makes me so mad, and nothing I’ve ever said to the boss (or the guy who thinks he’s the assistant manager) has helped change her attitude. She’s a major reason I’m looking for a new job.

    She also uses her phone practically all day – calling, taking calls, texting, getting texts, listening to her soap operas (on the company internet, so it slows the work computers!).
    This is completely against company policy, all of it.
    So is having visitors, but that happens too. When her daughter worked there, they’d chat for a long time, multiple times per day. Pretty sure that discussing birthday presents & shopping for groceries is not work-related… and I know enough of their language to recognize some topics.

    Oh, and she’s told me not to correct mistakes she makes, or even tell the boss or thinks-he’s-the-assistant-manager about them, because she doesn’t want to look bad. To heck with this thing called “customer service”, or doing what the customer is paying us to do.
    Last time, I set her mistakes aside, showed the THTAM, and let him decide what to do. (He told me he was letting them go to the customer, didn’t tell the boss.)

    In the 18 months I’ve worked there, I’ve had my phone on maybe 3 or 4 days, because I had very important (generally health-related) calls I was expecting. After dealing with those few calls, my phone gets turned off the rest of the work day. Normally I’m turning it off as I’m walking in the building.
    (And once THTAM stood & listened in on what was obviously a personal call when it would have been easy to step away a little, then he was snarky about it.)
    I’ve had friends meet me for lunch or dinner about the same number of times, which is appropriate because I’m off the clock, and not sit & chat while I was supposed to be working, which she does frequently.

    Oh, and she doesn’t clock out for lunch, takes more than the allowed time, then writes it in as half the allowed time when she clocks out at the end of the day. Trying to tell the HR person (the wife of the boss) is useless. There are no security cameras for them to look at to confirm what I’m telling them, so it’s useless to tell them how much time/money she’s stealing.

  46. Fed Up

    Then there’s the newest sales guy…

    He brings me an order, stands there & reads it off to me. Many many times I’ve said, “just tell me what’s not on the order… and why didn’t you include all the important information in the order?”

    And if he’s doing that, I’m assuming that the customer is standing upstairs waiting for it, but most of the time when I ask if that’s the case, Newest Sales Guy says no. So put it over there on the “to-do” shelf. Don’t interrupt me.

    Recently, he’s started leading off with, “this is simple” when he brings me something.
    Since he doesn’t have a clue about how to do my job, most of the time he’s wrong. In fact, Wednesday he brought me an order, led off with “this is simple”, then listed several fairly difficult / complex things. Apparently he was trying to be funny.

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