Office Pet Peeves - Are you driving your colleagues up the cubicle wall?

September 28, 2011

This is a guest post on best practices around social networking from Nicole Williams. For similar posts check out our series on networking tips and tricks here. - Ed.

It’s no surprise considering the ever-increasing number of hours we’re logging, in way too close quarters and under immense performance pressure that our office mates are driving us up the cubicle wall.

Whether it be the empty coffee pot or the gum-smacking intern, the laundry list of office pet peeves is getting longer and longer with people not taking ownership for their actions having the distinction of hitting the number one spot in LinkedIn’s global survey of most irritating office pet peeves. More pet peeves and tips to overcome them after the infographic.

Asking over 17,000 professionals ‘what’s your pet peeve,’ the Negative Nelly’s of the world came in second, leaving your lunch in the fridge or microwave long past expiration is third, followed by those snoozer meetings. Rounding out the top five, those people who consistently seem to miss your email (you can only use the "it hit my Spam" excuse so many times).And the peeves are not exclusive to the United States.

Turns out professionals are peeved the world over.  Office pranks rank highest in Japan, with Brazil getting most peeved by excessive gossiping.   You’ll want to turn down your mobile ringer when working in India and apparently you can get away with a higher hem in Sweden.  While seemingly harmless, the reality of one-too-many peeves in the workplace is a lack of productivity and this you need to take seriously in the face of a highly competitive job market.

There are a couple of things you need to consider when tackling the peeve:

Don’t let it build:  It’s not a necessarily fun or easy conversation to suggest to a co-worker that perhaps she could tone it down on the perfume, but the secret here is the earlier the better and whenever possible do it in the moment (hey, do you mind refilling the photocopier with paper…before she’s walked away).  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to let an irritation grow into full-fledged agitation and when you finally hit the breaking point, flip your lid in an embarrassing display of disproportionate emotion.   This needs to be a calm conversation, preferably with a solid example of the behavior that’s driving you crazy.

Keep it professional:  While peeves can feel petty, your response needs to be anything but.  Ideally you want to focus on the behavior and address it in relation to how it’s affecting your performance.   No name calling.  No you answered your phone in my meeting, I’m bringing my computer to yours.  No I’m telling the boss before you’ve had your own tête-à-tête.

Presume the best:  Who knew there was a such a thing as typing too hard?  Lots of people.  In the vast majority of cases the person who is peeving you has no idea the degree to which they are driving you around the bend and if they did, they’d be glad to eat their stinky lunch in the break room instead of at their desk.

Ask around:  Which leads us to the very delicate question: could you be a peever? With all this cubicle discord going on, you’re sure to be doing something that isn’t sitting pretty with someone in your office.  Re-read LinkedIn’s list of top peeves and ask yourself how many times you’ve left your dishes in the sink this month.   If you’re not sure, feel free to very delicately ask a trusted colleague for input… just don’t start to gossip about her if you don’t like what you hear.

So, what’s your favorite office pet peeve? Just tweet us @linkedin or leave us a comment on the post itself.