What NOT to do in the office

Annoying office habits

If you are familiar with my posts on LinkedIn you may be used to the positive themes I tend to lean towards sharing. This post is an anomaly :)

Throughout my career while I try my best to focus on the best parts of the job/company/colleague, there have surprisingly been a few strange scenarios I’ve encountered more than once. Every time I experience one of the below situations I find myself shocked at the lack of some colleagues’ awareness.

There are several ways to be successful in the corporate world, and a plethora of posts about what TO do in the office to differentiate yourself and succeed. In my humble opinion, this is a post on 6 simple things to NOT do in the office.

Cutting your fingernails
Believe it or not, I have encountered people cutting their nails while at their desk more than once. OY – THAT SOUND! While there are several things one could do in the office that are louder and arguably more disruptive to those around them, there is just something incredibly uncomfortable about listening to someone cut their nails while you’re trying to get your work done. If you’re that guy/gal – please do this in the comfort of your own home.

Talking loudly when someone else is on the phone
Depending on which department you sit by, the level of importance of the phone conversations can certainly vary. As a rule of thumb, if someone is on the phone, regardless of if someone is making a personal call or trying to close the largest deal in the company’s history, be a friend and keep it down. No background noise can make a material difference for everyone involved on the call.

Being the Debbie Downer on the team
All it takes is one person to be a cancer to an otherwise well-functioning, high-performing team. If you are miserable at work, take a step back and think about your interactions with the team when the boss is not around, the types of side comments you are making, and your general demeanor in the office. Think about whether or not you’re projecting to the rest of the team. If you are – cut it out! Go on a vacation and come back reenergised – or look for a new job… don’t be the reason that everyone else starts to hate their job too, it’s not fair!

Replying all to a company-wide email
If you’ve never experienced a company-wide ‘reply all’ email chain then count yourself as one of the lucky ones. It blows my mind how many people receive an email that was not intended for them and then ‘reply all’ to “unsubscribe” – and then how many more people follow suit. Or those instances when an announcement goes out to the whole company about a promotion and then one person decides to start the chain of congratulatory emails that fill up everyone else’s inboxes. Before you press send think about all of the times you were on the receiving end of these emails and remember that all it takes is one person to make a difference.

Taking someone else’s idea as your own
This should be a given, but I see it happen often enough that I thought it necessary to add to my list of no-nos. I think it is a universal sin to steal someone’s big idea, but I’m also talking about the small stuff. Someone mutters something in a meeting and no one else hears. Instead of raising your hand and taking that thought, point out who originally spoke and I promise you the positive return will be tenfold. When you empower those around you, it benefits everyone – yourself included.

Being late to a meeting
It’s so rude. Please stop! Give yourself a buffer between meetings – or schedule 45 minute meetings which will create new habits for those that interact with you. If you are in a meeting that starts late, don’t let that be the catalyst for being late to the rest of your meetings for the day. Instead, excuse yourself with enough time to make it on time to the next meeting, get it started on time, perhaps avoid the first 15 minutes of fluff and dive into the content of the meeting from the start, lather, rinse and repeat.

To be completely honest – the above are my personal pet peeves and this post is completely selfish on my part. It was only after a recent dinner party where the topic of annoying coworker habits came up and I thought I’d share the general sentiment of like-minded, successful leaders. There are so many qualities and tips/tricks that one can take up to improve themselves in the workplace – but there are a handful of things people should STOP doing.

In a joint effort to elevate the workforce, I’d love to hear about what you think people should stop doing in the office.


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About the author

Chris Kang serves as the Chief of Staff of Pat Wadors, SVP of the Global Talent Organisation at LinkedIn. She partners with Wadors and her leadership team to drive an operating cadence across the business. She works on strategic initiatives, focuses on milestones, and is a thought partner to the Human Resources and Talent Acquisition leadership team to drive healthy scale. She holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan as well as an M.B.A. in entrepreneurship and strategic management from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. More blog posts by Chris Kang ››
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