Pet peeves around the office

Annoying office habits
By Student blog

12 December 2016

Working in an office can be great fun, but it can be a challenge getting on with everyone around you. Especially if they chew so loudly, you cannot hear yourself think... we take a look at some of the most irritating office behaviours.

The British love affair with crisps is a long and storied one - we have more flavour varieties than any other country, and are happy to consume them as a snack, a treat, or as a somewhat pedestrian garnish to the humble sandwich. 

But a recent survey, quoted by The Metro, puts crisps-munching at the top of a list of the worst office irritations. In fact, of the ten most annoying office habits found in the survey, a total of seven were the result of unintentional office noise, from noisy keyboard-tapping, to excessive gossip, to rubbish hold music.

Munching sounds, it is universally agreed, are the worst. It's not crisps, either - whether you're munching on healthy fare like celery, carrots, or rooting around in a bag of banana chips, you're still annoying your colleagues.

The intolerance of the sounds of mastication is called 'misophonia'. While some people can block out or filter the noises going on around them, many more find this almost impossible, and cannot concentrate if someone nearby is eating, with apparent relish, what sounds like a large bag of gravel and boulders.

The first thing you can do to stop bugging your colleagues so much is chew quietly, and with your mouth closed, just like your Mum always told you to.

But what other annoying office habits are out there, and how can we combat them? See if you recognise any of the appalling behaviours below.

Dirty desks and dish politics

So your office lets you bring your own food in? That's nice. They provided you with a microwave - perfect for that leftover piece of mackerel from last night's dinner. Or that really greasy curry you got from the Balti place. Or why not both?

The aftermath and carnage left in the wake of foul-smelling food-fests does not stop in the kitchen. Crumbs in keyboards, countless concentric coffee rings on your desk growing alien life in their interiors, abandoned plastic tubs or bowls and dishes... these are all the things that make your colleagues annoyed.

Meetings about meetings about meetings

Apparently US office workers waste 31 hours in meetings every month. While communication is arguably the most essential office skill, nearly everybody will at some point find themselves struggling to keep their eyes open after the third meeting of the day drags into its fourth hour.

If meetings are not run with ruthless efficiency and do not produce actionable plans, then they tend to spiral into gossip, over-analysis and the reeking swamp of bad office politics.

Oversharing and interruptions

Technically these are two separate annoying habits, but we'll address them together.

The oversharer is convinced that their life, and attendant personal dramas, are as fascinating as the plot of the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Their watercooler gossip has nothing to do with last night's TV, and everything to do with the reasons their girlfriend left them for that bloke from Allied Carpets. 

So by all means, make friends, but keep some information back, for all our sakes.

The interrupter, meanwhile, will wade thoughtlessly into any debate or discussion, whether they are a part of it or not, to contribute their tuppence-worth. These are the same people who do not disable the keyboard sounds, text alert noises or 'novelty' ringtones on their mobiles - probably not even in the cinema or theatre.

Office jargon

Finally, another annoying office habit which made the top ten in the recent survey - talking absolute nonsense, constructed purely from office buzzwords. And honestly, when you tell us you want to streamline synergy while validating compliance and optimising your processes with a combination of blue sky thinking and a PMI (positive mental attitude), we start to lose the will to live.

Keep your acronyms, neologisms and buzzwords to a minimum! Talk like a human being, not a robot designed by a self-help author.

And the rest

Other things you can easily agree to stop doing, which are also infuriating, include:

  • not knowing how to work the photocopier properly; 
  • sharing "amusing" videos, emails and jokes; 
  • talking about your commute every single day; 
  • not getting the tea or coffee in when it's your turn; 
  • always talking about how busy you are; 
  • not shutting up (at all, ever); 
  • whistling, humming, or playing the harmonica; 
  • and leaving those passive aggressive post-it notes everywhere.


  • CA Student blog

Previous Page