9 Valid Reasons for Hating a Coworker

If you demonstrate any of these 9 bad behaviors, your coworkers will hate you. Laziness, loud talking, butt kissing, and bad habits are just the start of this list.

Sometimes homicide is justified. Sometimes a coworker deserves to have a file cabinet dropped on their head. Usually it’s some of the behaviors listed below that drive rational men and women into murderous rages. At the very least, coworkers demonstrating these behaviors will make you pull your hair out.

First of all – everyone relax. I am NOT advocating workplace violence and I am writing with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Don’t hurt anyone at your office but do give them feedback and help make these behaviors go away. And if you have trouble thinking of anyone at the office who is annoying enough to kill, check the mirror – your coworkers might be considering doing you in.

Second – I’m not perfect. Far from it. I’ve been guilty of many of these behaviors (and many more that aren’t on this list). It’s probably a good thing I work from home these days because my dogs don’t know any better how lousy a coworker I can be.

So with those disclaimers made, allow me to share nine of the absolute worst, most egregiously despicable office behaviors anyone can demonstrate. Please be sure to share this list with your coworkers so they too can be on the lookout for these bad behaviors and know how to deal with them appropriately. For those of you who are also bosses, you might want to also read 10 Reasons Your Team Hates You (But They Just Won’t Say it to Your Face) for further illumination. Here’s the naughty nine:

1. Loud Talking. Dude – shut up. We work in a half-height cubicle open workspace. None of us want to hear you BS’ing with a supplier about your golf game or complaining to the guy four desks away about how annoying people in the office can be. When your mouth opens, we all cringe knowing our work is about to be interrupted for ten minutes of your boorish blathering. The fix: grab a conference room or an unused office to have your conversations or step outside for your chit chat on your cellie with your broker.

2. Gossip. You don’t work at a junior high school (unless of course you actually work at a junior high school). Gossip is poison and you’re the purveyor of it. Stop talking about other people, mergers, layoffs, or any other office juice. It’s rude and it’s a distraction. The fix: listen to what Run DMC advises in this post. Click here to read it.

3. Selling Out. You’re the first one to abandon your position and cave as soon as some higher-up recommends going in a different direction. Find a spine. You talk a big game when the bigwigs aren’t around and the scary thing is, sometimes you have good ideas and recommendations. But if you cave in and don’t speak your mind, no one respects you and the business never improves. The fix: make clear, well articulated recommendations and know when you should fall on your sword.

4. Butt Kissing. Nobody likes a sycophant especially one who goes in the direction of the prevailing winds (which are usually simply the flatulence of the highest-ranking person in the room). When you kiss up, everyone knows it (including the person whose butt is being kissed). The days of getting promoted by sucking up are (almost) dead. Stop. The fix: Focus on your own performance and when you need to get the boss to agree to something, instead of kissing butt, just make a clear and compelling recommendation instead.

5. Playing “Look how smart I am!” You know that guy in the meeting who asks a question he already knows the answer to and he’s only asking it to demonstrate his smartitude? Yeah, if that’s you I’m betting someone is going to throw an overhead projector at your head one day (one of those heavy, old school ones that required transparencies). Everyone hates a know-it-all especially one who’s jockeying for favor with the boss. The fix: get comfortable with asking the right questions instead of having all the answers. Don’t be afraid of not knowing the answer yourself – just take satisfaction in asking the question to advance the conversation.

6. Nasty Habits. Grooming, old food in the fridge, nail clippings on your office floor, dirt under your fingernails, halitosis. All that nacky stuff. Ew. Gross. Nobody wants you around because they all fear catching Ebola from you. Your coworkers are plotting to kill you by calling you in to the CDC as a bio-hazard threat that needs to be nuked. Even if you’re not that nasty, you’re demonstrating some seriously bad behavior that keeps you out of the executive ranks. The fix: get some manners and take a course on executive presence.

7. Lazy, Sloppy Work. Your coworkers depend on you to hold up your end of the workload. When your work is late or filled with mistakes, we have to pick up the slack (translation: stay late and do your job for you). You get paid to do work. Do it. We’re sick of covering for you. The fix: get feedback from your colleagues on the quality of your work and see where you need to focus and improve. Ask for help if you’re not sure how to do something so you can get better at it and need fewer bailouts (there are enough of those happening on Wall Street already).

8. Inefficiency. You make meetings drag on by asking that last question that doesn’t need to be asked (see #5 above). You cc everyone on emails and reply all too. The fix: You should learn why it’s a good idea to occasionally shut your cake hole. When you’re quiet, you can learn more and keep the conversation moving. Also learn a little email etiquette along the way too.

9. Taking Undue Credit. Stealing credit for someone’s work is about as low as you can go. It works for a short period of time until you cross the wrong person and they call you out for it. And they will. I’ve taught them how to do so (CLICK HERE to see how). The fix: Do your job well (see #7 above) and the credit will flow. You’re good at what you do. Demonstrate it. Don’t take shortcuts. Work hard and it’ll all work out for you.

Look, I don’t want to see office violence (or even dreams and fantasies of it) befall anyone but if you keep up the bad behaviors above, they just might be drawing a white chalk outline of you on your cubicle floor. And again – I AM NOT ADVOCATING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PEOPLE! This is a sarcastic blog post. I hate the fact that I even have to point that out but if I don’t some clown will go into the office with a ball peen hammer tomorrow and crush a skull with it.

Let’s make our workplaces more civilized. Look at the above nine behaviors and ask yourself honestly if you demonstrate any of them. If you do, fix it. If you know a coworker who does, provide the feedback and help them fix it too (or just forward this post to them or print it off and leave it on their chair anonymously if you feel like being a passive aggressive coward). Go make the workplace a better place to, well… work.

Mike Figliuolo
About the author: 

Mike Figliuolo is the Founder and Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, a professional services training firm specializing in leadership development. An honor graduate from West Point, Mike served in the US Army as a combat arms officer. Before founding his own company, he was an Assistant Professor at Duke University, a Consultant at McKinsey & Company, and an executive at Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (www.onepieceofpaper.com), Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (www.leadinsidethebox.com), and The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved (www.elegantpitch.com). Mike’s blog and the programs he teaches can be found at www.thoughtleadersllc.com.