Graeme −> Stuff −> Society and Progress −> Human Interaction −> Office Politics −> Annoying co-workers 

"Annoying Co-Workers" is a headline from a newspaper article (from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by Joe Holleman).  At first, I thought it would be a primer on how to annoy my co-workers.  Fresh out of good ideas, I picked up the article eagerly.  Then I found out what it was really about: co-workers who are just generally annoying.  Still a good read.

Annoying co-workers same in every office

By Joe Holleman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Can't we all just get along?"

Apparently not.

And if you need proof, get yourself a job in a big office.

We would love to see ourselves as an American working icon -- a cowboy on the range, gazing over the herd from the saddle of a great steed. But in reality, we are just a part of the herd, fenced-in cogs gazing at the clock from ergonomically designed chairs.

Hi-yo, lumbar adjustment, away!

The 1999 film "Office Space" pointed out the inherent insanity of the modern corporate workplace, and how much time and energy we spend there. On the small screen, the BBC show "The Office" has mined the same ground.

So who are these people who populate our work worlds for 40 or more hours a week?

Jack Dougherty, a corporate communications specialist in the San Francisco area, said these people are the same, everywhere.

Office Types

Do you recognize any of these 10
common types of office workers?

1. Loud Talkers
2. Angry Man (or Woman)
3. One-Uppers
4. Super Parents
5. The Experts
6. Charity Junkies
7. Pack Rats
8. Moles
9. The Downers
10. The Uppers

"Once you get 10 people together, they find a default position, they fall into a pattern of behavior," said Dougherty, founder of Dougherty Dialetics and co-author of "Most Likely to be a Success."

Dougherty, a St. Louis native, said he has worked with politicians in Washington and Stanford-educated engineers in Silicon Valley.

"Even though you couldn't find people from more different backgrounds and professions, they tend to exhibit the exact same types of office behavior," he said.

For example, Dougherty said every office has a brown-noser, someone who sucks up to his or her boss for personal reasons.

"It's the most common type in an office: that person who is so starved for attention and recognition from his or her superiors," he said.

So how should office workers deal with this never-changing environment?

On a practical level, Dougherty suggests using e-mail or leaving phone messages for those colleagues who aggravate us the most. And if face-to-face meetings are unavoidable, he offered very simple advise:

"Say less," Dougherty said. "Workplace resentments, rivalries and conflict are often the result of folks' innate inability to stop talking."

So, without further ado, we present this list of common office annoyers. Please note that this list is not comprehensive.

1. Loud Talkers: When more than four people share a work-space, at least one of them will fill that space with 95-decibel vocals. They either are physically incapable of whispering or, more likely, they think everyone is interested in what they have to say. Forget earplugs, because it only makes us (oops, I mean "them") try even harder to be heard.

2. Angry Man (or Woman): No matter what happened -- in the news, at the morning meeting, over the weekend -- it really ticked off Angry Man. If your office is liberal, Angry Man is for George Bush. Conservative? John Kerry. If you're apolitical, Angry Man is irked by your apathy. When all else fails, Angry Man gets mad because everyone else is not.

3. One-Uppers: Did you just get back from a week in Florida? Well, they just got back from two weeks in Aruba. Your airplane ticket was $250? Theirs was $199. If you lost 8 pounds, they lost 10 -- and they didn't even have to go on a diet. Whatever interesting experience you have had, they had it twice, for twice as long.

4. Super Parents: Be careful. Even if you can't take one more story about Johnnie's home run at T-ball or how Heather's dance teacher says Heather is the finest under-10 tap dancer she's ever seen, keep quiet. To criticize Super Parents can sound like you are criticizing the kids, and that's not good. Besides, the kids wish Super Parents would shut up, too.

5. The Experts: A.k.a. "Cliff Claven," after the know-it-all from "Cheers." They are especially dangerous because any subject can set them off. Make an innocuous comment about weather and you get a 15-minute explanation of geothermal anomalies inherent to alluvial plains. But the really annoying part is that, ever so often, they actually come in handy.

6. Charity Junkies: Also know as "Mother Teresa." We're pledging for peace, we're walking for whales, we're saving for seals, we're taxing for trees. We care. And you had better be just as concerned, shocked and appalled by whatever cause Mama T. has adopted this week or little tiny guilt rays will be shot in your direction.

7. Pack Rats: These people are only annoying if they sit close. Pack rats have piles of papers on and around the desk, boxes on the floor in ever-growing stacks and mail hanging off the desk like an avalanche wannabe clinging to a mountain overhang. Along with constituting numerous OSHA and fire code violations, this space is the most likely to harbor a small rodent.

8. Moles: Skulking around the office, hovering over your desk while you type, appearing silently in the midst of every conversation, they trade in information. Information about you, if they can get it. They know who's dating whom and who had too much to drink at the office party. They also float conspiracy theories about hirings, firings and layoffs.

9. The Downers: Bad luck and hard times visit us all. But what about those who always are having a tough time? Don't they understand that a lot of the time, the best response to "How are you?" is "Fine." And if they don't have a tragedy of their own, they'll tell you about their neighbor's sister's husband with some incurable disease. For fun, sit them next to...

10. The Uppers: How can smiling, happy people be so utterly annoying? They are so perky and bubbling that you can just feel the psychotic breakdown sneaking up on them. Their desks have lots of little poems and inspirational messages stuck here and there. If they have anything "Ziggy" on their desk, it's way too late to help them.