Picture this. You’re sitting at your desk, trying to concentrate on the report that you have to hand in within the hour, when your neighbor’s cell phone suddenly starts blaring out an ear-splitting tune. After letting it ring for a few torturous seconds, he finally picks it up and starts yelling into in decibels that would be audible only to dogs. Once the conversation is over, you try to go back to finishing your report when a foul smell literally burns your nostril hair. Apparently your other co-worker just treated himself to a lunch of tuna fish sandwich and eggs and followed it up with a cigarette. You’re finding it difficult to even breathe the same air, yet you push on with your report. When you finally get the printout, a clumsy bafoon bumps into you and spills his entire cup of coffee onto your report. Ready to tear your hair out?
The thing is folks, some habits are simply unacceptable in the workplace no matter how trivial they may seem to you. In fact, some habits can go beyond just irritating your co-workers and can actually be damaging for your career! You won’t believe the kind of bad office habits that people have fallen into! These habits not only affect your relationships with other people, but also affect productivity (yours AND your coworkers) and eventually your advancement. Bad habits are basically learned behaviors that are repeated often. The more often it is repeated the stronger the habit becomes. Over time, the habits become automatic and come naturally to us. This means that we end up doing it without even realizing it. But just because we don’t notice them, doesn’t mean no one else does either! Most offenders don’t even realize that they’re guilty of common annoying workplace habits. And believe it or not, even smart and highly competent people are guilty of annoying workplace habits.
Here I have compiled a list of common bad office habits (in no particular order) that are universally detested.
1. Criticizing People
All of us have a tendency to rate other people and impose our standards on them. We pass judgments all the time and often make destructive comments, without realizing that our needless sarcasm and cutting remarks may hurt someone very deeply. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. And as they say, what goes around comes around. Habitually being judgmental or critical of people can backfire and can curb your own advancement. People often don’t realize that their peers and others at work can have a major impact on their careers. Criticizing upper management is even worse and can kill your career. Sooner or later upper management will get wind of your complaints and if those above you don’t think you’re a supportive member of their team, they’re not going to promote you. All it takes is one person to mention your comments to your superiors and you’re history!
2. Always needing to be right
It is very irritating to work with a person who insists on being right about everything under the sun. You don’t need to keep showing people that you’re smarter than they think you are. What’s more important is to make positive contributions to your department, team and company. Being technically competent does not make you a Mr. Know-it-all. Remember that when it comes to promotions, management always looks for people who work effectively with other people and are not just technically competent.
3. Claiming credit you don’t deserve
When someone deserves credit for something, give it to them. Trying to take credit for something you don’t deserve is probably the most annoying thing you can do. Similarly, failing to give people proper recognition, praise and reward is also a very bad habit.
4. Missing deadlines
Missing deadlines on a consistent basis can be extremely frustrating for people who are depending on you to get your work done on time. You do not work in isolation. Everything is always a team effort and people are relying on you to do your end of the job. Missing deadlines can cause a lot of anxiety to your teammates. Many may have to work overtime because of it as well. If you cannot meet a deadline, try to give as much notice as possible. Talk to your supervisor and explain the problems you are having as perhaps he or she will be able to offer the assistance to get things on track. Don’t wait till the last minute.
5. Showing up unprepared for meetings
Showing up unprepared for meetings demonstrates a lack of commitment and respect for your co-workers. It is extremely frustrating for others who have arranged their schedules for a meeting that has borne nothing and was just a waste of precious time. You should always take 15 to 30 minutes before each meeting to refresh yourself of the topic. Write down the questions you have and highlight the points you would like to make or focus on.
6. Not being punctual
Not coming to work on time and always being late to meetings is a very bad habit as well. Don’t forget that your time is no more important than anyone elses.
7. Being negative all the time
Someone who complains all day is a major pain in the neck. It’s OK to grumble about work once in awhile but if you’re a constant whiner, not only do you get on everybody else’s nerves, you’re commitment is questioned. Naturally, people will wonder why you don’t just quit. Remember, a job is never a joyride, so please keep the complaints to a minimum.
There are always those extremely irritating people in every office who just love a good drama and are the first to share any scandal. Everyone gossips once in a while, but if you do it too much, it will give you a reputation of a person who cannot be trusted with any kind of information.
9. Not minding your own business
Then there are those who want to be aware of everything that happens in the office, whether it concerns them or not. These people are THE most irritating kind. They eavesdrop on conversations, spy on co-workers, and give unsolicited comments and advice. Puhleez people! Mind your own business!
10. Withholding information
Every office has those mean, sadistic types who refuse to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others. Remember that without trust, there can be no teamwork.
11. Dressing unprofessionally
Coming to work dressed in a t-shirt and baggy jeans that look like they will fall off any second is NOT cool. When you dress unprofessionally, it gives the impression that you don’t take your job seriously. It is very possible to assert your individual sense of style without compromising on professionalism.
12. Trying to be the funny guy
Constantly cracking jokes can be very annoying for co-workers. Some people think that being the office clown is a sign of their popularity. Reality check. It’s a job, not a popularity contest. There’s nothing wrong with being funny, but there’s a difference between having a good sense of humor and just being plain idiotic! Not everyone enjoys silly impersonations and sarcastic quips.
13. Drumming your fingers on the table
Many people absent-mindedly drum their fingers while thinking. This can be very irritating not to mention distracting for the people sitting around you.
14. Speaking in a loud voice
Some people tend to talk very loudly especially when on the phone, which can be very distracting and irritating for co-workers. All conversations within the workplace (whether on the phone or with a colleague), should take place in low, even tones. Preferably, keep office doors closed or use the boardroom for phone conversations if you have a loud voice.
Very loud typing noises from the person sitting next to you is very distracting. Typing with all your might is a needless and pointless activity.
16. Coming to work when sick
You might think that coming in to work even when your down with a bad cold demonstrates dedication and commitment, and should be appreciated by all and sundry, but believe me, it isn’t! In fact it’s downright irritating. No one wants to sit next to someone who is constantly sniffling, sneezing and coughing their germs all over the office. The truth is, the office will not come to a total standstill if you miss a couple of days of work. If you’re sick, please stay home. And if you MUST come in to hand in that all-important report, try not to infect everyone else while you’re at it!
17. Inappropriate ring tones
What is it with some people? They just don’t seem to understand that co-workers DO NOT want to hear loud filmi songs, cheap movie dialogues, ear-splitting heavy metal or booming rap music every time your cell rings. It can be downright exasperating! Keep your phone on silent or vibrate in the office please!
18. Invading someone else’s workspace
Your stuff should not be over spilling onto your neighbor’s work area.
19. Body Odor
There cannot be anything as oppressive as bad body odor. Personal hygiene should be at the top of your list no matter where you are. This is especially important when you’re working in a small, poorly ventilated space with lots of other people around. For heaven’s sake, don’t force people around you to wish for gas masks! Also, try not to generate strong smells that will permeate the entire office. For instance, don’t eat eggs or onions in the office. What is more embarrassing than having breath so bad, the person standing in front of you cringes every time you open your mouth! And if you smoke, be sure you air yourself out before you walk back in the office. The same goes for perfume and aftershave. Wafting into work with a strong fragrance trailing behind you is not exactly a turn-on for everyone! It may even lead to a bout of sneezing from allergy prone co-workers! Try not to make your presence known to the entire office when you arrive.
20. Chewing and popping gum loudly
The constant smack smack sound of gum chewing, not to mention popping sounds of blowing gum bubbles can be very distracting and looks very unprofessional to say the least.
21. Humming or whistling
Humming or whistling while listening to your IPod (or otherwise) is another extremely annoying habit that should be avoided. Nobody wants to hear you exercise your vocal chords when they’re trying to concentrate.
22. Forwarding Junk Mail
Some people have nothing better to do than forward silly emails to their co-workers, What they don’t realize is that not everyone likes to have his inbox cluttered with rubbish.
23. Personal conversations
As fascinating as your private life may be to you, most people are really not interested in hearing you coochy cooing your better half on the phone, or about your latest escapades and rendezvous. Avoid personal calls in the office, and don’t share unsolicited stories about your personal life either. People with over-exposed personal lives actually become the butt of hurtful jokes for everyone else behind their backs. Not to mention the fact that personal calls are a big drain on productivity.
24. Asking for help frequently
Remember that everyone around you has some deadline to meet, an agenda to follow and work to do. You aren’t the only one! Therefore, you should only ask for help when you really need it. Try everything you can to solve your own problem before involving somebody else. Otherwise you give the impression of not being self-reliant.
25. Being clumsy
Bumping into desks, dropping files or spilling coffee all over your co-worker’s just finished report will not win you much affection to say the least. Try to move around the office carefully & quietly to avoid disturbing the people around you.
26. Using slang & bad language
How a person talks and expresses himself reflects upon his professionalism, or lack thereof. Lots of employees (especially fresh graduates) in order to sound “hip” and “cool”, talk like their still in college i.e. with a heavy dose of slang and expletives. Expressions like ‘y’know’, ‘sorta’, ‘wanna’ and ‘I was like oh my god’, ‘I’m kinda cool with it’ etc are not acceptable in a professional environment. Using expletives especially, can be very detrimental to your career advancement.
Procrastination is a very common bad habit that can also jeopardize career advancement. Projects get delayed, you get stressed and your work quality suffers.
28. Wasting time playing Computer Games, Chatting, smoking etc
This is yet another extremely common habit. Employees are often seen chatting or playing simple computer games like solitaire. You’re being paid to do your job, not waste time on unproductive activities. Checking your email every once in a while or reading your favorite blog for a few minutes is Ok but please keep it to a minimum.
29. Borrowing things without permission
How irritating it is, every time you waste precious time rummaging through your desk looking for your stapler that was just there a minute ago, only to find that a co-worker has picked it up without even bothering to inform you?! It’s really common courtesy to ask first!
30. Ogling people
Needless to say, staring at people for far longer than is acceptable is a very annoying habit. More than annoying, it’s creepy. It may even be considered sexual harassment by some.
Are you guilty of any one or more of the above? If the answer is yes, then its about time that you did something about it. One of the best ways to get an objective view of your on-the-job behavior is to ask for constructive and honest feedback from a trusted colleague. People can only eradicate annoying habits and behaviors if they are pointed to them. Once a habit is pointed out to you, make a conscious effort to change it. Tell yourself that you will conquer this bad habit. People who tend to think they will fail usually give up before they are half way through. Give it a personal strong commitment in terms of time and energy. Above all, have patience. Remember that breaking bad habits takes time and change, good or bad, is always hard.
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