• REBECCA RAUSCH

Top 10 Annoying Coworkers: Which one are you?

The Take-Away:

Learn to be self-aware of how you may be perceived by others at work and make changes to improve your work relationships and reputation.


Coworkers are often the most challenging part of our jobs. But what if YOU’RE the challenging one in your office? If you think you aren’t, that’s a good enough reason alone to frankly assess yourself and how you might be perceived at work. Have self-awareness and take the necessary steps to improve your actions and reputation. The obvious reason is that you might need a coworker to give you a reference later, and you don’t want to be remembered for your bad habits. Just wanting to be a better person is another good reason. If you are one of the annoying coworkers in the following list, review what you can do to improve your work relationships and reputation.


1. The Noisy Coworker

We all have that one coworker who has zero awareness of how loud she speaks or moves about the office (yawning or sighing loudly, drumming fingers on the desk, etc.). This person is probably loud wherever she is and has never learned to vary her volume and actions to suit the environment.

A woman in denial reaction with who me caption

Is this you? Realize that your loud speaking and noises are very grating to your coworkers. Some of them probably cope by wearing noise-canceling headphones, but that’s no excuse for your continued loudness. Try talking and acting like you are at a funeral—a hushed voice and quiet movements. Your coworkers will be pleasantly surprised.


2. The Gossip

This coworker is energized by spreading news and juicy tidbits about coworkers and the company to others, whether true or not. He feels important and connected by being the one in the know, but it often masks insecurity of his own abilities or role in the organization.


Is this you? Know that your coworkers don’t trust you to keep anything private. In fact, you might even be used by coworkers who want news to travel fast. Rather than focus on getting the latest news, be the employee who is known for solving problems and learning new skills—tangible things that will earn you respect and trust.


3. The Smelly Coworker

You can often smell this coworker before you see her. Perhaps it’s her body odor or that horrific mix of coffee-garlic breath, or maybe it’s because she uses a strong perfume. This coworker may also be the one who causes the office to smell horrible due to burning popcorn or cooking fish in the microwave.


Is this you? Some people are very sensitive to smell, and your smells could make your coworkers physically ill. Your own sense of smell might not be strong, so don’t rely on it to gauge the strength of an odor. Ask a trusted confidante if you smell bad (or too good), and make adjustments (stronger deodorant, breath mints, no perfume, etc.). And be wary of the food you bring into the office.


4. The Whiner

This coworker’s glass is always half empty and he has something bad to say about everything. He has a difficult time acknowledging improvements or progress in work projects and can say what is wrong with the weather on any given day. He always declares his victimization due to continual disrespect. Fun guy.


Is this you? Your negativity is draining on your teammates and they roll their eyes in anticipation of what you’ll find wrong. You have a gift for discernment, but make your words count—when you complain about everything, it’s easy to ignore you. If you only complain about important things, your words will carry weight and be more considered. Also, before complaining, determine a solution to the problem and include that with your complaint.

5. The Flirt

Some people rely on their flirtatious behavior to get what they want or simply enjoy seeing what kind of reaction they can get out of you. The Flirt can sometimes cause attachments that later affect other work relationships as well.


Is this you? Tread lightly, as you may not be able to tell how your actions are being perceived. Also, realize that your reputation at work may be based more on your flirting than your actual work. Focusing more on your work projects and less on your work relationships will improve your reputation.

6. The Talker

This coworker shouldn’t be confused with the Noisy Coworker, although she could be both. The Talker doesn’t know when to stop talking, either on the phone or with coworkers. She might not get enough work done, because she always has time to converse and chat about life unrelated to business.


Is this you? Remember that you add value to your company when you work, not when you chat constantly about last night’s game or your vacation to Myrtle Beach. Additionally, your coworkers resent knowing as much about you as they do, because they may be forced to hear your chatter even when you’re talking to someone else. Less is often more, and that is no more true than with our words.

7. The Busy Worker

The Busy Worker takes pride in being busy and makes sure everyone knows how over-scheduled he is. He appears to be hardworking but may be all hat and no cattle—not a lot of work being accomplished behind his outward busyness. This may result in him never being willing to accept new projects or his work on projects might not get done because he’s so busy.


Is this you? If you are truly over-scheduled, speak with your manager about reducing your workload or reprioritizing projects. Otherwise, acknowledge that everyone else may be just as busy as you and they don’t want to hear about your schedule. Simply be known for getting your projects done.


8. The Slacker

This coworker cuts corners, ignores project expectations and tries to work as little as possible. Her work product may not be important so she can get away with doing less, or she simply doesn’t want to work hard.


Is this you? Realize you are preventing your department or company from truly excelling, and your coworkers will resent your lack of work ethic. Perhaps your job is boring or unfulfilling and you need to find another one. If you decide to stay, talk to your manager about what projects or other roles you can do that will energize you and make you want to do your best work.


9. The Cruncher

Chips, carrots, crackers, and more, this co-worker loves to challenge the chompers with every crunchy food they can find. However, similar to the noisy worker, they have no awareness of how loud their crunching is like fingernails on a chalkboard to their nearby office neighbors. They are blissfully unaware and believe the crunching is only in their own head.


Is this you? Ask your neighbor if they can hear your crunching and if it is problematic. If it is, then switch out to softer foods and keep your crunch needs after hours or in the breakroom.


10. The Know-It-All

He has strong opinions about everything, dominates meetings, and has a hard time accepting if his idea is not adopted. He may even subvert a new project if he was not in favor of it. Narcissism check please!


Is this you? Be willing to really listen to others and be coachable, as no one likes a know-it-all. You may also have a hard time admitting you’re wrong, so be prepared to adopt the best ideas even if they aren’t yours. It’s OK to not have the answer to every problem—give others a chance to shine and you will gain their respect.

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Looking for tips on how to deal with an annoying colleague? Be sure to read the next article in this series: Coping with Annoying Coworkers



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