Pet peeves—we all have ‘em. Whether it’s strangers or your closest friends, everyone has habits that can get under our skin. But what’s a girl to do when her pet peeves are work-related?
Enter Nicole Williams, Connection Director for LinkedIn and Founder of WORKS by Nicole Williams, on pet peeves that can get you fired, advice for tuning them out and more! Plus, see the whole pet peeve study on LinkedIn (with commentary from Nicole)>>
Personally, what annoys you most at the office?
The same person who annoys me in real life: the constant complainer. At the end of the day, we all have a choice about how to look at the world and the Negative Nelly seems to take joy in finding the thing that isn’t going right or the problem in any given situation…and they often don’t have a clue how to actually go about solving the challenge!
Every office seems to have one. They always have some negative point to chime in about. This type of negativity can wear down the positivity and energy of any office. This is also the hardest pet peeve to constructively fix.
What’s your advice for tuning out an office pet peeve?
Don’t engage them. When someone bothers you for the umpteenth time, try not to talk to them. If you appear supremely focused, keep your eyes on the computer screen, and give short, pointed answers, they’ll get the clue and find someone else to bother.
Invest in headphones. Assuming it’s okay with the higher-ups, wear headphones or other noise-reducers while you’re working. Turn up the volume and ignore, ignore, ignore. People will be far less likely to bother you if they have to tap you on the shoulder to do so.
Which office pet peeves could actually get you fired?
People who tend to embellish the truth are more at risk for getting fired than that person who leaves their dirty dishes in the sink.
Other pet peeves are constantly coming in late, leaving early or calling in sick. If you aren’t at the office and don’t have a disclosed medical condition, this type of behavior sends a negative message to the boss: I don’t want to be here.
What if my coworker is doing something that’s really getting on my nerves (ex. eating a smelly tuna sandwich, singing to herself or tapping her foot incessantly)? How do I nicely ask her to stop?
More often than not, the peever has no clue that they are driving the people around them up the wall! I once read a study that indicated an irritant as being: “employees clapping their hands when happy/excited” (seriously). This is something I do all the time! I think we have to give the offender the benefit of the doubt and also understand that they are likely to feel a level of initial embarrassment. Because of this, you want to be very light-handed when you confront them.
In a lot of cases, you can steer the offender in a different direction with non-verbal cues—like putting your own dishes in the dishwasher, closing your door or putting on earphones when an officemate’s phone call volume escalates. You also need to realize that peeves are often ingrained habits and you may need to verbally or non-verbally remind this person more than once. At the end of the day, just like in our personal relationships, it’s difficult to get someone to change. So, one of the most effective ways of handling a peever is to find a way to extract yourself from the irritating situation.
Which of the pet-peeve findings from the study did you find most interesting?
America’s sticky fingers—over half of the employees surveyed have had their lunches seized by coworkers!
How can we identify things that we might unconsciously do that annoy others (and stop doing them!)?
It’s tough to recognize our annoying habits, and I hear a lot of “well-that’s-your-problem” kind of defensiveness, and crying-level drama in these cases; don’t do that! If you are approached by someone regarding a behavior that is peeving others, your best bet is to say thank you and take the constructive criticism to heart.
Keep in mind that it’s not easy to confront peevers and they have to be invested in you and your talent to bother. In this kind of competitive workplace where there’s a lot of equally qualified talent out there, that thing you’re doing to tick someone off can very well impact you in the next round of lay-offs or promotions.
-Nicole Williams of WORKS by Nicole Williams
Nicole is the bestselling author of three books, the latest of which, Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, has been optioned by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, the producers behind the Academy Award winning films American Beauty and Milk. The company she founded, WORKS by Nicole Williams, is the go-to resource for career-minded young women and was named one of Forbes magazine’s Top 10 Career Websites for Women. You’ve seen her on TV—as a regular guest on Today, Good Morning America and CNN—and in print, where her advice has appeared on the pages of ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire and the Wall Street Journal. Nicole was recently named LinkedIn’s Connection Director. She is also Shape magazine’s career contributor, where she’ll continue to spread her sexy mix of dating tips turned career strategies to young women everywhere.
Girl Talk Time: What do you think of Nicole’s advice? Do you agree? What are your office pet peeves? Is there anyone at your workplace who drives you bananas? What do they do?