We have all had a cringe-worthy moment or two when it comes to the office. Nancy in sales going barefoot after 2…Tom’s famous laugh…you get the idea. To be sure your behavior isn’t making your colleagues roll their eyes as soon as you leave the meeting, refer to my list of office annoyances below.
Avoid Being an Annoying Coworker
1. Don’t walk around the office barefooted, or in flip flops. Invest in comfortable heels or bring a pair of office-friendly ballerina slippers or flats to change into when your toes start aching. House shoes and socks are not a good substitute for a leather-soled shoe. The flip, flip, flop of a beach shoe is distracting to your coworkers and doesn’t “speak” professional to your image.
2. Avoid cooking popcorn (or any other food) that permeates the entire office. While you may enjoy a bag of microwave popcorn for a late afternoon snack or a tasty tuna salad for lunch, your coworkers, clients and neighbors down the hall do not appreciate the overpowering odor. Think about how you feel when you walk into someone else’s office and the first thing that hits you is the smell of a particular food. It doesn’t lead to a positive first impression (quite the contrary).
3. Don’t stand at the door while a coworker is on the telephone. If you find the person you are attempting to speak with is on the telephone, come back later. It feels invasive to the person on the telephone and comes across as rude and overbearing as you stand at their desk, or sit in their office, waiting for the conversation to end. Leave a sticky note requesting a quick call or visit instead and ask them to please follow up when they get off the phone.
4. Spit the gum out. Snapping gum in the back of your teeth is unprofessional and annoying to your team members. While bubble gum happens to be my vice of choice, I make a point to annoy only my immediate family with my bubble making expertise. Gum does not have a place in a professional environment and certainly not at a client meeting or business lunch. Switch to mints that are easily dissolvable.
5. Never interrupt someone who has the floor. Do your best to keep your thoughts to yourself until the other person has had time to share their information. Good business and social manners dictate that you actively listen and interject your thoughts only at the appropriate time. Breaking into someone else’s conversation sends the message that you lack self-control and don’t value their opinion.
6. Contain loud laughter. It is bad etiquette to bellow inside of the office. Unless your office is a comedy club, refrain from an obtrusive cackling roar, keeping your laughter down to a lower and more appropriate decibel.
7. Don’t sneeze in your right hand. The right hand is reserved for handshakes so when you start to feel the tickle, the etiquette of a cough or sneeze is to lean back into your left shoulder and cover your mouth with your left hand, hopefully with a tissue. Leave your right hand germ free and ready to greet an unexpected guest.
8. Keep the fundraiser flyers at home. Refrain from sending out a group email to your entire team asking for Girl Scout cookie orders for sweet Susie. It’s bad enough you badger your neighbors with your chocolate and cheap paper products, but the office is not the place to put others on guard. Implement a “no solicitation” policy and begin with one another.
9. No humming, whistling or cracking your knuckles. These seemingly harmless habits are high on the annoyance scale. Whether ailing jittery nerves, assisting in passing time, helping to keep focused, or easing tense limbs, you should always be aware of your “ticks” and make every effort to retrain yourself to concentrate and worry in silence. You never know who may be “watching” you and critiquing your every move.
10. Don’t give your coworkers silly nick names. Dickster, Larester, Janemeister are not funny or engaging terms of endearment. This is a foiled attempt at trying to be too “familiar.”
11. Say “no” to a DIY manicure in a meeting. Clipping your fingernails (or worse, your toe nails – yes it’s been known to happen!) is a “don’t,” and a huge one at that. Let me just personally add…Eeeew! There is a time and place for everything, and the clipping of anything other than the leaves off of your office plant is not appropriate.
12. Keep it off speaker phone. It’s distracting to coworkers and is a breach of privacy to your client. If you must use your speaker phone, close the door to your office so no one can hear your conversation.
13. No chewing on pens/pencils, especially ones you carry around. You never know when your boss or client might need a writing utensil pronto and handing over a ravaged pen will definitely put a damper on signing that important contract.
14. Clean up after yourself. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the luxury of the office kitchen, but be careful not to abuse the privilege. Cleaning up your spills, crumbs and dirty dishes is respectful to your coworkers and sets the example for others to follow.
15. Stay away from noisy jewelry. Every woman likes to keep up with the latest fashion, but walking into a business meeting to the tune of “jingle-bells,” even when prepared with a strong and confident presentation leaves a juvenile impression behind. Save the bangles and grandma’s charm bracelet for lunch with friends and stick to one or two pieces of simple, statement jewelry.
Having gone through the list, I’m hopeful you didn’t find yourself guilty as charged. If you saw yourself on the list more than a few times, it’s never too late to start anew.