Do you have a coworker that is always talking over you? Or one that shares a few too many details about their personal life? If so, you’re in the same boat as nearly half of Americans who cite interrupting and oversharing as some of their largest annoyances.
Spending 40 hours a week with the same people is bound to lead to some issues. So we wanted to know: what are the most annoying coworker habits? We surveyed 1,902 employed Americans and asked what behaviors they find the most irritating in their colleagues.
- 68% of Americans have confronted a coworker about being annoying.
- 60% of respondents claim entry and mid-level coworkers are the most annoying
- 48% find their coworkers less annoying in a remote setting.
How annoying do Americans find their coworkers?
Almost all of us know an annoying coworker. In fact, more than 90% of the workers we asked said at least one coworker annoys them. When asked further, 40% are annoyed with up to four coworkers around them. And one in five are annoyed by at least five colleagues.
When broken down by job level, 60% of respondents claim entry and mid-level coworkers are the most annoying. Meanwhile, only 30% said that management or senior-level employees were the usual cause of irritation.
In truth, most respondents stated that only a select few coworkers annoyed them. Still, even in settings with few annoying colleagues, the irritation isn’t lessened. In fact, 66% of respondents get annoyed with a coworker at least a few times a week. And nearly 60% have considered quitting or have quit because of an annoying coworker.
However, what is annoying?
And when colleagues are annoying, how do you go about addressing the issue? Two in five respondents said they’d prefer to speak to an annoying coworker directly, and 68% have already done so. For many, a professional airing of grievances did the trick. However, 20% said that doing so did not affect the situation.
Of course, not everyone is a “direct confrontation” kind of person. In fact, 21% said they would prefer to turn to their other colleagues for guidance. Another 18% wouldn’t do anything at all, except suffer the continued annoyance. Only one in 10 said they would speak to a manager or HR about the problem employee.
43% of respondents said they’d been confronted about being annoying. Interestingly, one in three said they knew they were annoying.
The most annoying habits of remote coworkers
With many of us working from home, an important question arises. Does being away from your coworkers make them less annoying? According to respondents, yes! Nearly half say that they find their coworkers less annoying in a remote setting.
Still, not everyone found solace in remote work. Some annoyances carry over from an in-office setting, with 55% still annoyed with their coworkers several times a week. And two in five say their coworkers are even more annoying than in person.
But why? As expected from a change in environment, the annoyances changed as well. The top irritations included:
- Slow responses to emails or instant messages on a platform like Slack
- Excessive background noise on video or phone calls
- Eating on camera
As an interesting note, a remote environment tends to bring out such behaviors from many of us. When asked, most respondents admitted to the following behaviors:
- Having excessive background noise on video or phone calls
- Texting during video calls
- Sending messages outside of work hours
Most respondents appreciate coworkers that check in on each other. Plus, prompt responses and full attention at meetings are always beneficial for work. Zoom fails, meanwhile, may be annoying in certain contexts.
The most annoying habits of in-office coworkers
Remote work is a new normal for many. However, there are still employees that are back in the office—and some have never left. With this shift back to in-person work for some, it is time to re-examine our in-office behaviors.
For many, annoyances are higher now more than ever. In-office employees are more likely to be annoyed with their colleagues than their remote counterparts. And, 72% of in-office workers get annoyed at least a few times a week. Compare that to 55% of remote workers, and it’s clear that in-office environments are prone to irritation.
So, what behaviors seem to rub us the wrong way? In a lingering pandemic world, being messy and coming to work sick are sure-fire methods to becoming an annoying coworker. Also, the age-old irritation of talking too loudly on the phone remains a high annoyance.
On the other hand, many are guilty of the same behavior they find annoying. Going to work sick remains a common offense, as does making or taking personal calls. And, when we are on our phones (business and personal), we tend to spend too much time on them.
New irritations have emerged for those who worked in an office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dealing with the pandemic was annoying enough. Constant discourse over masks and other needed medical supplies is sure to burn many out.
With that said, there is still plenty we appreciate about our in-person colleagues. In fact, they are not unlike the reasons we value our remote employees, including:
- Prompt responses to messages
- Giving full attention during meetings
- Checking in to see how we’re doing
In other words, being a kind and genuine person will elicit the most positive relationships. So even if you are guilty of annoying behaviors, try to be there for your colleagues—they will appreciate it.
The most annoying email habits
Whether remote or in-office, email drives a lot of our communication. Respondents agree that unnecessary emails are almost always annoying. This isn’t the only irritation, though. Employees who hit “reply all” on a company-wide email earn plenty of groans. And those that mark regular emails as important or urgent are deemed annoying by most of us.
Of course, what’s in the body of the email can also frustrate even the most patient of coworkers. Some words or phrases are like nails on a chalkboard to some people. In fact, the most annoying phrases include:
- Thanks in advance!
- All the best or best wishes!
- Happy [day]!
In other words, many of us want our work emails to focus on work. Extra fluff or flowery language tends to annoy. These phrases also create a feeling of one party being out of touch with the other. In a remote setting, this can highlight an actual problem.
Yet, as annoyed as we are with emails, our true irritation lies with instant messaging. Most respondents, over 70%, said that instant messaging programs allow for the most annoying habits. Oversharing or sending multiple messages are annoying behaviors across the board, as is overusing GIFs. There is always a time and place for tactful GIF usage.
So, if not even physically getting away from your annoying coworkers removes their annoyance, how are in-office workers fairing? In short, not great.
Managerial behaviors that annoy us most
In what is not that surprising to many of us, nearly one in three said senior-level or management employees are the most annoying. Many of us have had irritating experiences with managers, but what is it about them that annoys us?
To begin with, playing favorites is an immediate annoyance. Employees want to be recognized for their efforts, not how much they can make a manager laugh. Managers that have favorites, explicit or not, are often untrusted and found to be irritating.
Likewise, managers who take credit for others’ work are often viewed as insufferable. Like having favorites, cutting out the team’s hard work will not earn any favors. Disparaging the group also leads to much annoyance. If an employee isn’t meeting their goals, don’t call them out in front of others, unless you enjoy being annoying.
We will always have to deal with an annoying coworker, no matter the situation. Not even a global pandemic and remote work could change this fact. After viewing the results, though, it’s clear that most annoyances come from a lack of interpersonal skills. Remote or in-person, interruptions and inappropriate discussions can be found in every workplace.
As is true for many aspects of life, however, we are all guilty of annoyance at one point or another. In conclusion, focus on communication with your team members. Strive for a community of open discussion, where grievances can be addressed and fixed. This will cut down on annoyances, and help change those annoying colleagues into better people.
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