Updated 22 May 2013

10 office pests

Do any of these 10 things, and you could be driving your colleagues crazy.


Think about it – you probably spend more waking time with your colleagues than you do with your spouse. No wonder every now and then you feel that you could strangle one of them – and no doubt they periodically feel the same way about you.

There are obvious things you shouldn't do when you work in an office: chat about highly personal stuff, come to work when you're as sick as a dog, spread rumours, make a constant noise.

But what are the personality traits that are best not brought to work?

Know-all. If you know everything about everything, or you think you do, there is one thing that you do not know. And that is that you are irritating everyone senseless. Needing to pretend to know everything clearly points to a great feeling of insecurity. Deal with it, before it drives everyone at the office crazy. And start learning to say, "I don't know".

Cockiness. Whereas most employees wouldn't mind if someone was brave enough once in a while to take on the boss about something, a cocky attitude is unwelcome in the workplace. It puts fellow workers on edge, and very often the axe that this specific employee has to grind, starts taking precedence over the work.

Teasing. Teasing is actually just bullying with a smile. Teasing isn't funny – something is only funny when both parties think it's funny. Having a laugh with someone is a very different thing to teasing them – teasing hurts and it victimises people.

Assumptions of superiority. On certain levels, everyone is better at some things than others. Walking around with your nose in the air, because you have better qualifications, more money, sporting achievements, or whatever, will not endear you to any of your colleagues. Leave the attitude at home. And don't assume people find you sexy and that it gives you the right to make comments and use tired pick-up lines. Just don't go there.

Grumpiness. Everyone has days on which they don't exactly feel like jumping for joy. But, part of your salary is paid to be pleasant to colleagues. If you permanently are grumpy, no matter how well you do your job, you will eventually get into the firing line. Being pleasant for at least 90% of the time is a prerequisite for being a good colleague. Taking out personal issues on people at work, is simply a reflection of a weak character.

Paranoia. This is simply exhausting for those around you. OK, sometimes there may be someone who has it in for you, but if you think everyone does, you may be the one with the problem. If you're permanently over-scrutinising everyone's actions for signs that you may be targeted, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself and the standard of your work. It may be that that is really where the problem lies and you are 'crying wolf' to get the attention away from this.

Tardiness. Being slow or lazy simply means that everyone around you is picking up work that you're not doing. And let's get real here for a moment. How would you feel about someone who made your workload heavier by not doing their part? And then you get paid the same at the end of the month?

Untrustworthiness. If you cannot trust someone to be punctual or reliable or do what they are supposed to do, you end up just doing it yourself – and feeling resentful to boot. In the end, you would be far better off without them – and that is usually what happens eventually. And on this note, if you are untrustworthy, you are also possibly repeating things that were said to you in confidence. This means that before long, no one will tell you anything.

Negativity. We all have days on which we don't feel like Mary Poppins – people suffer from PMS, have fights with spouses, or whatever. But if someone permanently sees the dark cloud and never the silver lining, they are not pleasant to work with. What's more, some people have an accusatory manner when they complain about things like the weather. Heavens, what do they want you to do about it?

Chatterbox. If someone talks all day, not only are they not doing the work they're supposed to be doing, they are also keeping others out of their work. People will talk – it also adds to a pleasant atmosphere at work, but there is a difference between the odd conversation and constant chatter.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated May 2012)


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