Annoying Coworker Habits & How To Handle Them

Getting to know your coworkers can create a more trusting and productive professional environment.

Remembering a colleague’s son’s birthday or their spouse’s name gives biglaw offices a more boutique feel. Sending flowers to your coworker’s desk when her grandmother is in the hospital shows your appreciation for her hard work during tough times.

But, when you know the dirty details of your colleague’s personal life not from conversation, but from loud talking, you may be victim of the number one, award-winning pet peeve among coworker complaints.

“Of 2,318 people surveyed in March 2006 by Harris Interactive and Randstad, 32 percent say an office loud talker is their biggest pet peeve. Coming in a close second at 30 percent is using an annoying cellphone ringtone; 22 percent said speakerphones are their No. 1 peeve,” reports Tara Weiss for Forbes in 2007.

Unfortunately for employers, nearly 60 percent employees in a recent poll reported that these annoying habits were the primary source of stress in the workplace, according to And, as much as 40 percent of respondents said these bad habits caused them to seek a different job, according to the same article.

Luckily, in the same way technology is driving a wedge between you and your cube-mate, it can also be an associate’s saving grace.

Below is a list of the most annoying workplace habits, followed by technological ways to temper their negative effect on your productivity and workplace stress.

1. Loud Talkers

Between client and case meetings, a lawyer practically lives on speakerphone. That doesn’t mean, however, that every associate in his proximity must be on the same call.

“Daniel Post Senning, a spokesman for the Emily Post Institute, suggests talking to the loud coworker first before complaining to the higher ups. When approaching the coworker, don’t take an accusatory tone, says Senning, instead say something like, ‘when you talk on the phone you are loud and it’s hard for me to stay focused,’” writes Donna Fuscaldo for Fox Business news.

If running your mouth doesn’t stop the loudmouth, at least headphones will. Noise dampening headphones will help you stay focused and calm. Purchase a pair with a microphone so you can conduct your own conference calls hands and hastle-free.

Plus, large, expensive headphones will send a pretty clear signal that you need “quiet, please.”

2. Uninvited Stop-Ins

Whether the office gossip or least busy employee, one person always makes the social rounds more than all the others. Uninvited stop-ins are welcome—in moderation.

“They know where to go to drape their arms over the side of the cube or stand in the middle of the doorway,” says Richie Frieman, an etiquette expert and the Modern Manners Guy blogger, according to Fox Business news.

“It’s almost the same as if someone came in your house without knocking.”

What can you do about it?

Next time you hear that uninvited guest wandering your direction, pick up the phone and feign a conference call.

Caught off guard?

Look at your computer screen and say, “I’m sorry, I’ll have to get back to you. I just received an important e-mail that requires immediate action.” Maybe it’s a little, white lie, or maybe not—lawyers always have additional billable hours in the queue. Use the uninvited stop-in as an excuse to really get back to work.

Still desperate? For $0.99, you can purchase the Fake-A-Call application for your smartphone, which fakes an incoming call from your boss, your wife, or a client with just one tap.

3. Annoying Cell Phone Ringtone

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about an annoying cell phone ringtone. Consider asking your office administrator to circulate a policy about cell phones and ringtone volume during work hours.

If that doesn’t work, there’s always the anonymous $1.99 gift via iTunes with a not-so-subtle message requesting, Miles Davis or Mumford & Sons, as opposed to Metallica.



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