Spending upwards of eight or more hours with your coworkers can be a daunting task if malodorous odors permeate through the cubicle walls or one employee insists on not washing their hands in the bathroom.
These offenses can seem unbearable, especially if repeated hints to your coworkers do not do the trick. For a few weeks, you can give helpful suggestions, but eventually, you might have navigate to a more direct approach: asking for an immediate cease and desist of their oddball behavior. This job is never on the top of anyone’s list, but shirking the responsibility just means everyone has to endure the eccentricity or tacky behavior even longer.
Several years ago Marta Moakley was working at an office that had a small lunchroom. It had all the usual accoutrements of an office kitchen such as a refrigerator, microwave and small table and chairs. For one co-worker, the kitchen contained a distinct advantage - it had a door that locked.
This coworker took it upon himself to revel in private lunches and quiet time, leaving everyone else’s lunches and snacks hostage if they did not beat him into the lunchroom. Not only did this employee fail to understand his rudeness, but his position as a top performer in the company made the task of confrontation a bit more daunting, she said.
“Since he was a top performer had a very strong personality, it took several conversations for him to understand the level of frustration experienced by peers,” said Moakley, now a legal editor for XpertHR, a New Providence, N.J.-based online service providing HR professionals with employment law information. “However, this was a situation that could not be ignored, because it is very unwise to come between office workers and their sources of caffeine and equally foolish to fail to address the problem with a rude employee."
If you think that's bad, take a gander at these top five offenses committed at work on a daily basis. They'll be sure to gross you out and fill you with ire, especially when you recognize this behavior in some of your colleagues.
Refusing to be hygienic
Everyone has encountered those coworkers who refuse to wash their hands in the bathroom. There is no telling why they ignore this basic necessity, especially if they run around the office shaking people’s hands, hugging them or touching the tchotchkes on your desk. Correcting these offenders means you need a more direct approach by firmly asking them to complete the task at hand, said April Masini, a New York-based author of relationship advice books.
“Tell your coworker, ‘I’m a little germ phobic and I know I’m not the only one around here -- you'd be doing me a big service,'” she said. "In other words, make it about you, so that washing their hands is ultimately a favor or a gift. When people think it’s just about them, they’re more apt to forgo adjusting, but if they realize that their behavior affects others, they’ll be more conscious of their choices.”
Proliferating offensive Smells
Too much cologne or a smelly tuna fish sandwich can make you extremely unpopular in a heartbeat.
“The super strong vanilla scented candle that an employee thinks smells divine makes me wish I had one of those medical masks that protects my senses from the smell,” said Masini. “The people who commit these offenses have no idea that their delicious sandwich is offending others because of the aroma that isn’t so delicious to someone else.”
The solution might be implementing a policy where no one ever eats at their desk and everyone respects the “aromatic” foods that they bring, she said. “In other words, no one is singled out,” Masini added.
Heavy cologne or the scent of a perfume that you detest might be a harder message to get across. Try asking the person to avoid wearing it because you have an allergy, said Masini. “If they do, the problem is solved," she said. "If they don’t, you may just have to suffer in silence.”
Performing a symphony of Snap, Crackle, Pop
Sitting next to someone who constantly sighs, coughs or talks extremely loudly can be maddening. A recent report by Jabra, the Lowell, Mass.-based manufacturer of wireless and corded headsets, found that employees found their co-workers to be guilty of numerous pesky workplace offenses, making them less productive. Nearly half said their office is noisy, and 43% found their colleagues annoying. In another Jabra survey, 36% of people said people spoke too loudly in the office, with 29% who had difficulties concentrating because of noise in the office.
“Most surprisingly from the survey, 12% said they are often disturbed by coworkers eating crunchy vegetables,” said Holger Reisinger, a senior vice president of marketing for Jabra. “As workplaces shift to accommodate new technologies and collaboration workspaces, the level of distractions can increase.”
While it’s difficult to create a “perfect” workplace scenario, designating a specific location in the office for meals can cut down on workplace noise, he said.“Forget about hearing someone chewing loudly or the opening of a potato chip bag,” Reisinger said. “Not only does this eliminate noise, but it also fosters a better workplace for collaboration. Investing in noise canceling headphones is well worth it. You won’t even hear a pin drop, let alone your co-worker talking about the game last night."
Collecting Money for Causes
Someone who is always collecting money for a cause or another coworker’s birthday gift can be overbearing. Since you can’t simply avoid these folks who cannot stop collecting for their kid’s school or a non-profit organization, telling them you will give another time will not resolve the issue, said Simma Lieberman, who owns a consulting company in Berkeley, Calif. and advises organizations on creating inclusive cultures.
Stand firm to your policy and “politely tell them that you have already donated all the money you've budgeted for such causes,” she said. “Tell them your policy is to not mix work with donating money to outside causes, no matter how good they are.”
Days filled with back-to-back meetings can be long, tedious and boring. Your frustration level is kicked up a notch when you are leading a meeting and notice that nearly everyone is multi-tasking on his smartphone instead of listening to you. Nearly one in four people confess to emailing or texting during meetings; Millennials are the most culpable, as 33% admitted to committing this offense, according to a Bank of America survey.
Multi-tasking is not only an epidemic, but it is also rewarded in many office environments. Getting everyone to unplug and focus on a speaker can be a challenge. This issue can be resolved by making a general “request at the beginning of the meeting that you’re going to require cell phones to be turned off in order to achieve a communal, singular focus on what you hope will be a rewarding meeting,” said Masini. “If you announce before the day of and remind on the day of, it won’t seem to be a punitive reminder or an embarrassing remark when you have to do it for the first time because someone is suddenly texting.”