office_pest.jpgDo you get the feeling your co-workers have been avoiding you lately? Are your antics rubbing them the wrong way? Be honest with yourself and check this list to see if your behavior has turned you into the office pest.



Whether it’s an endless tirade about the boss or her own overflowing to-do list, you just can’t seem to shut up about what’s bothering you.


Why You Do It: “Whiners can be people who are constantly unhappy or dissatisfied with their lives. They find some sort of relief from this tension by airing out their grievances to others,” suggests Tina Cheng, a counseling psychologist.

Why It’s Annoying: Really, who wants to sit through your rants and negative vibes?
What you can do about it: “[A] positive way of coping is opting to act instead of complain,” says Aldwin Gregorio, a human resource management practitioner. If the air-conditioner’s temperature in your work area gives you the sniffles, call maintenance and ask for it to be turned up. Be proactive.



You cut people off in mid-sentence, wait impatiently in front of a co-worker while she’s on the phone, or plop down beside her “just to catch up” when she’s obviously busy.

Why you do it: Such people may be overly decisive, says Julie Jansen in the book You Want Me to Work with Who? “[She] has already made up [her] mind about what to say or do next.” She goes on to say that interrupters may also lack respect for others’ opinions or knowledge, curiosity about anything other than their own perspective, and awareness of this habit.

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Why it’s annoying: Co-workers find it tedious when they’re never able to finish a sentence, a thought, or the task at hand.

What you can do about it: Make a conscious effort to listen to what others have to say, instead of focusing on what you want to voice out. And the next time you find yourself tapping your foot outside a busy co-worker’s cubicle, turn around and come back at a later time.



You’re constantly calling in sick, even when you aren’t!

Why you do it: You may have lost the drive to go to work. “Poor morale, lack of motivation, listless performance and a poor sickness record go hand in hand,” says Roy Lilley, author of Dealing with Difficult People.

Why it’s annoying: Just because you aren’t around doesn’t mean your work disappears. When you’re absent (yet again) because of a “horrible stomach flu,” other people are left to pick up the slack—and that’s on top of their own personal tasks.


What you can do about it: Address, rather thanavoid, your office issues. Pinpoint what it is that makes the office the last place you’d want to be in. It might be time to examine your career direction.



You come to work even when you should be in bed, convincing everyone else—and yourself—that it’s “just a little cough.”

Why you do it: You’re a workaholic; or you want to get brownie points and gain sympathy for showing up even if you’re ill.

Why it’s annoying: You may be physically present, but your sickness can prevent you from performing at your optimum level; thus, your work is compromised.

What you can do about it: Companies give sick leaves for a reason—so stay home and use them when your body demands it.



If you seem to begin every other sentence with “Did you hear about…,” then you may just be the office gossip.


Why you do it: It’s a way of “connecting” with officemates. “On the other hand, [gossipmongers] are bitter people who would like to control the perceptions of other people around them,” says counseling psychologist Cheng.

Why it’s annoying: People start to wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.

What you can do about it: Talk directly to the people concerned especially if there are issues involving them.


Not sure if you’re exhibiting any of these traits? Be brave and get feedback from your co-workers. If you can’t ask them directly, observe their behavior when they are around you. Knowing, after all, is half the battle. Now take those steps to rectify the situation.


(First published in Marie Claire, February 2007; photo source:

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