insight magazine

5 Reasons Your Coworkers Don't Like You

Don't know you're being annoying? Well, you are. Here's why. By Judy Giannetto | Digital Exclusive - 2017


Projects are piling up. Deadlines are pressing down. You’re troubleshooting eight-plus hours a day. And then, an ear-piercing “ding” breaks the silence. Five minutes later…ding! Then five minutes after that…ding! It’s as annoying as someone tapping your shoulder every five minutes to ask what the time is.

No matter how small an annoyance—even a text message alert—it is nevertheless an annoyance. So if you’re striving for the camaraderie and support of your co-workers, you’ll want to check out these five reasons they might well despise you from time to time.

1. All the World’s Your Stage—Even This 6 x 8 Cubicle

The life of the party may not realize just how unamusing strumming on a ukulele "so I can think more clearly" really is for the rest of the room. Even that convivial, boisterous conference call in your cube, your “there’s plenty of room for everyone” meeting at your desk, the colorful language you hurl at your computer when the keyboard doesn’t work—they’re all super annoying for your cube city neighbors. In fact, if you’ve noticed a lot of side eye and headphone wearing in your general vicinity, you may want to book a conference room for your conference call or meeting (it’s called a conference room for a reason), and take a walk rather than venting your frustrations within your 4’8” walls.

2. You Like to Schedule Meetings for EVERYTHING

It’s all too easy to find a time slot and invite attendees along every time there’s a decision to be made. But not every decision—or initiative—requires a formal meeting. If you need the input of, say, one or two stakeholders, then meeting with them informally—perhaps over lunch—might be the better way. Going through the arduous task of booking a room, writing up and distributing an agenda, finding a time slot when all attendees are free, and then explaining to them that you’ve pulled them away from their pressing project, or their lunch, or their conference call so you can outline the two issues you have with the company website is, well, a drain on motivation and a waste of everyone’s hard-pressed time.

3. You Have a Billion and One Questions—That You Want Everyone to Hear

You don’t have to be the one calling the meeting to be the one annoying everyone in the room. More often than not, there’s a call for questions before everyone slides back a chair and makes for the exit. Questions that impact a good number of the people in the room are important to raise and have answered for all to hear. However, if you’re consistently the one asking an endless stream of questions that matter to no one but you, and if a wave of sighs washes over the room whenever they see your hand twitch upwards, then you really should try repeating this very important sentence: “I do have some questions about (fill in the blank), but rather than holding everyone up, do you have five minutes to chat with me after the meeting?” If anyone else is interested in the topic of conversation, they too can join in. Everyone else can grab their sweet taste of freedom.

4. Noise is Noise is Noise

You love the Simpsons. In fact, you can’t believe there’s a person in the world who doesn’t love the Simpsons. So the sound of your Simpsons ring tone should be music to everyone’s ears, right? Wrong. Oh, so very, very wrong. Whether it’s a ringtone or what you believe to be an unobtrusive alert every time you get a text message (and you get a lot of them), the plain and simple truth is, different people have different thresholds of both annoyance and patience. And you might just be pressing your luck. Best policy? Turn off the volume and leave your phone on vibrate. Your co-workers will love you for it.

5. Enough About Me, What Do You Think About Me?

Of course you’re going to be proud of a job well done, words of praise from the higher ups, past glories and present successes. But when your, “You know, I was a high school track star” conversation is rolled out every time a new hire is within earshot, or you pull the old, “Well, I have an MBA so…,” every time there's a question over strategy, then odds are you’re going to become an object of derision—and even, perhaps, a bit of a running joke. Even worse, talking ad nauseam about “my project” or “my award” rather than giving your team its just desserts kills both respect for you and morale for them. Sure, you can argue till you’re blue in the face that, “It was my idea and I did all the work,” but no man (or woman) is an island. Your colleagues might want to ship you off to a distant island, however, if you don’t stop playing the same old “me, me, me” tune.

No one sets out to make enemies at work. And often, we have our heads too deep in whatever our latest projects are to really notice that a behavior is giving a negative impression. It’s all about objectivity and observation. It’s important to take note of how your actions impact the world around you—especially the world of work.