In the workplace, there are some obvious cardinal sins: taking credit for someone else’s work, blaming others for your own mistakes, flubbing important deadlines or engaging in any type of abusive behavior, sexual or otherwise.
But there are also some seemingly harmless things you might be doing that could be eroding the once-positive relationship you had with your colleagues. That’s why we asked experts to reveal the bad workplace behavior you need to eradicate ASAP.
1. You come to work sick
“It may seem heroic to come to work when you’re under the weather yet still able to persevere. But many co-workers will find that annoying, to say the least. And for some people, it could be downright dangerous if they are coping with an autoimmune condition or live with loved ones whose immune systems are compromised. If you are sick, see if you can work from home remotely, or just take the time you need until you feel better.” ― Alena Gerst, psychotherapist
2. You microwave your stinky leftovers in the office kitchen
“Some smells are offensive. When you use the office microwave to heat up an especially malodorous food, like fish, co-workers can be annoyed. One workplace I recall banned microwaveable popcorn altogether because employees were regularly nauseated by the unpleasant smell of burnt popcorn permeating surrounding workspaces.
The tip here is to keep in mind that we’re all working in close proximity and chances are we each have very different preferences, interests and habits. Be aware of those around you and bring your best self to the office. Your co-workers will notice and appreciate it.” ― Teresa Marzolph, founder of the HR consulting firm Culture Engineered
3. You suck up to your boss and other higher-ups
“Co-workers will rarely mention it because it’s subjective and unkind to bring it up to the offender, but observing the proverbial brown-noser in action can be more than cringeworthy over time. It makes co-workers feel that their colleague is disingenuous, a trust-buster. Co-workers like to feel that the team is authentic and doesn’t need to score brownie points.” ― Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior & Thrive in Your Job
4. You talk over people and can’t listen without interrupting
“Those of us who are more extroverted and talkative often don’t notice when quieter individuals have something to contribute, and may unknowingly disregard others’ thoughts too quickly. I often hear from clients that they feel irritated that the same people are dominating meetings and conversations and they rarely feel they are given the space to contribute or be really heard.
It is important to take a moment to ask quieter team members their thoughts, and also to pause before responding so to not be too quick to shut them down. More introverted individuals process internally, while extroverts often think out loud, and this style can be crushing to quieter individuals.” ― Kate Snowise, psychologist and executive coach
5. You talk loudly on the phone and take personal calls in common areas
“Personal calls in the workplace can annoy and even alienate co-workers. Years ago, I received a complaint from a female employee that a male co-worker was talking loudly on the phone, having an especially sexually graphic conversation. I’ve received a lot of these types of complaints in my career, but the comments she relayed to me that day were particularly offensive. When I confronted the accused employee with the comments, he quickly explained that he and his family owned a farm and one of the animals was giving birth. He was talking someone through the process. While context helped address concerns that he was deliberately aiming to offend his co-workers, we still had a weighty discussion about having sensitive personal calls in common areas. Personal conversations are just that ― personal. Conduct them at a time and in a volume so as not to irk others.” ― Marzolph
6. You use someone else’s desk or computer without asking
“Even though someone’s computer belongs to the company or organization and not them personally, it is inconsiderate to sit down at someone’s desk without their permission and use their workstation. Just be sure to ask them first.” ― Gerst
7. You’re constantly complaining
“In my HR career, one of the most common complaints I received was about one person being annoyed by another’s incessant complaining and negativity. Sadly, the Debbie Downers are typically the last to know, feeling that everyone around them sees things as they do. So, my advice to the Negative Neds who don’t realize how their negative talk is draining their team and annoying co-workers is to wait until they’re asked their opinion. Stop jamming it down everyone’s throat. If you are a person that works best when you get things off your chest, schedule a meeting with someone who can help resolve the issue and make sure your comments and concerns are constructive.” ― Marzolph
8. You’re taking advantage of flexible work policies in an unfair way
“Many companies now support flexible working arrangements, but you may be irritating your employees if you are too relaxed about how you take advantage of these. Your colleagues notice if you are the last one to arrive and first one to always leave. It’s not that you shouldn’t take advantage of flexible work policies, but make sure you’re not inadvertently dumping the in-the-office work on your colleagues. That is when people tend to get really frustrated. ― Snowise
9. You’re always gossiping about your co-workers
“Co-workers who enjoy or tolerate gossip are typically not high-performing and will typically not last long. Successful workers will not be interested in petty gossip. The tip here is to use your time for better things. Your words should be valuable and no one values petty, insignificant chatter. In today’s workplace, gossip has become the new form of harassment, so aside from the poor reputation you create for yourself, you’re also looking at some tough and unpleasant conversations with HR and management.
If you feel others are acting inappropriately or unethically, the solution is to report and help resolve the situation. The solution is not to share these feelings with others in the workplace who will not investigate or resolve the issue, but instead will just help spread the unfounded accusations.” ― Marzolph