When I recently started my workplace-advice column, Ask the Insider, I expected questions about career advancement and navigating office politics.
Instead, hundreds of people starting venting to me about their coworkers’ annoying habits.
After receiving numerous complaints from people all over the world, I’ve identified a few trends.
Avoiding these behaviors might seem like common sense, but readers have shown me that many people still do them.
Your coworkers will probably hate you if you do these things – they’re just too afraid to call you out.
1. Coming to work sick
Being around a sick person gives everyone anxiety. You might think you’re showing your dedication by trekking to work with a cold, but your coworkers will probably think you’re a martyr and resent you.
When you have symptoms, it’s best to stay home.
2. Being loud
- Adam Dachis/flickr
I’ve received many noise complaints ranging from loud chewers to people who blatantly make personal calls or watch Netflix at their desks. One person complained that their coworker’s music is audible through their earbuds, driving everyone else crazy.
Another reader lamented that her coworker eats crunchy snack Bugles all day every day. Making a lot of noise is invasive to your coworkers. Evaluate your habits.
3. Grooming at your desk
- Tamaki Sono/flickr
One of the most cringeworthy questions I’ve received was about a coworker who clipped his nails at his desk. Another letter-writer claimed her boss clipped his toenails at his desk. This is unacceptable in any circumstance.
Other people complain about coworkers who loudly blow their noses at their desks. If you find yourself needing to clip a ragged nail or blow your nose, do it in the bathroom away from your colleagues.
4. Imposing smells
- Jo Yong Hak/Reuters
People find strong smells to be as abrasive as loud sounds.
Many letter-writers abhor their coworkers’ smelly food, such as leftover fish heated up in the microwave.
Perfume is also a frequent offender. Many people complain that the fragrance gives them a headache and leaves them unable to focus on the job.
Complaints are so numerous that since I started writing the column, I’ve stopped applying perfume before coming to work.
5. Talking about yourself
- Francisco Osorio/flickr
Some level of socializing is fine and can make the office a better place. But when someone is trying to focus on work, your long monologues about partying on the weekend, your search for a good dog-sitter, or your boyfriend’s fantasy-football league can feel tedious and distracting.
Try to limit these conversations to coffee breaks with coworkers. If you notice someone is working, think twice about interrupting them.