January 27th, 2010

Stinky Feet and Smelly Food: Bad Behaviors That Annoy Us At Work

by Jacqueline Whitmore
bedroom slippers

Wearing bedroom slippers or going barefoot at work are credibility killers.

We all have co-workers that really annoy us.  But how do you make sure that you’re not one of THEM?  According to Christine Pearson, professor of management at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona and author of The Cost of Bad Behavior, 96 percent of Americans experience rudeness at work and 48 percent say they are treated uncivilly at least once a week.

So what are the most annoying office infractions?  Here are eight of them:

  1. Putting PDAs before people: Most people find texting and emailing in meetings really offensive.  The irony is, most of these same people admit that they do it.
  2. Eating smelly food:  Your burger with onions may smell (and taste) great to you but could be gagging your cubicle mate.
  3. Talking to co-workers too loudly in the hallway: Be aware that your colleagues are working and the sound of your laughter and mindless gossip are concentration breakers.
  4. Writing in text speak:  Using abbreviations like LOL and OMG when sending emails or letters may be fine with your teenager but is unprofessional in business correspondence.
  5. Not acknowledging a colleague’s work: From brazenly stealing credit to failing to email a quick thank-you, ignoring another person’s efforts is a recipe for resentment.
  6. Getting too personal: Signing an email with just one initial is fine when you’re writing to your husband or best friend, but not when querying the CEO or your client.  And save the “xoxo” for your teenage daughter.
  7. Wearing too much perfume:  Your co-workers shouldn’t know you’re in the office just by breathing the air.
  8. Wearing your pajamas, bedroom slippers or going barefoot at work:  Just because you have no client contact and your office is located in the back of the building doesn’t give you permission to let your guard down and dress down.  Many executives just assume it’s fine to wear leggings, sweatshirts, or walk around barefooted at work.  Put your shoes back on and PLEASE leave the bedroom slippers in your bedroom!  Just when you think, “Well, no one is going to see me behind my computer,” then an unexpected meeting is called and you end up looking like a frump.

What do you do when you are annoyed by a coworker’s behavior?  Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder offers these tips.

  • Talk it out: Talk professionally and honestly to your co-worker about his or her behavior. Be sure to do this in private and try not to embarrass anyone or make the situation worse.
  • Take it to a higher level: Don’t be afraid to get your boss involved or talk to HR. If the behavior is having a negative impact on your ability to do your job, it might be time to call in the big guns.
  • Mix it up: If you can’t come to an agreement with a co-worker who is bothering you, ask to be reseated in another area.

What habits really annoy you?  Share your comments with me!

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2 Responses to “Stinky Feet and Smelly Food: Bad Behaviors That Annoy Us At Work”

  1. Sheila Zayas on January 28th, 2010 4:09 pm

    This is so true and should actually be common sense. Unfortunately, it is not common sense to many people. One of the things that used to bug me is a co-worker who has a project to finish and keeps asking you so many questions that it might as well be you who did the project.

  2. Juanita Ecker on February 9th, 2010 3:16 pm


    When I talk about respect and civility in my business etiquette seminars, people often comment that they hate it when co-workers clip their nails at their desk. The clippings fly all over. It is a grooming practice that should be done at home – not at work.

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