Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

The 10 Most Annoying Work Colleague Traits

By James Ball | Feb 4, 2015 | Friday Funnies

The great Italian philosopher Mario Ballotelli once asked the world, “why always me?

And if you are stuck with a colleague who is more annoying than one of those vacuous morons from TOWIE, then you will probably be asking yourself the same question.

You’re not alone though.

In a survey of 1,836 office workers in 2010, 38% of people admitted to complaining to bosses about the person sitting next to them or had in fact confronted the annoying colleague themselves.

Just like your family, you can’t choose your work colleagues.  You have to be polite and laugh at their insufferable jokes and listen intently as they recap yet another fascinating yarn about their weekend of re-enacting the battle of  Hastings, and this time they dressed up as a Saxon don’t you know?

We’ve all come across a work colleague who drives us to despair from time to time, in fact you might have one sitting next to you right now.  So what little idiosyncrasy or foible is it that makes you want to hit them with the desk lamp?

I’ve categorised the 10 most annoying work colleague traits, and if you can’t recognise anybody from the 10, the cruel truth maybe that you yourself are one of those annoying work colleagues, but no-one has told you!

Let’s start with one of the least popular people in the office:-

1. The Grinch

Image quotes 'Are you the office grinch? If you are, 37% of your workmates hate you!' - the 10 most annoying work colleaguesThis annoying work colleague is the person who can bring the mood of an office down with one quick sound bite of scorn and misery.

They see the negative in just about everything in life.  They see the hole instead of the doughnut, the cloud instead of the silver lining.

Their pessimism can rapidly drain the energy from the room.  As a manager you should be aware that the Grinch is often the person who will moan about the smallest thing in order to avoid tackling any work.

2. The Skunk

It’s a conversation that goes on in offices all around the planet.

Just how do you tell your work colleague that they pong a bit or that they have breath that would strip paint?

You’re trapped in a small, poorly ventilated space with this person for 8 or 9 hours a day and their failure to bathe or brush their teeth is having a negative effect on your working day.

So how can you tell a smelly colleague that their odour is offensive?

If you are brave enough, there are a number of steps you can take to try and break it to the offender gently.

  1. Firstly, find a quiet space to discuss the issue.
  2. Secondly, try and use neutral, impersonal language that outlines the impact their soap dodging is having on the rest of the office (try not to use the term ‘soap dodging’ though).
  3. And lastly, try using the power-phrase, “I’m telling you because it’s important for you to know”.

Maybe set up a follow-up discussion to tell them how they are doing.  Alternatively, if you’re not so brave, you can send them an anonymous email from

3. The Cheapskate

The Cheapskate is easily identified as the person who always opens the door at the pub to let everybody get to the bar before them.

Or you might you know them as the tightwad who will sponsor you at 5p a mile for the London Marathon.

The Cheapskate can also be easily recognised by the fact they are still wearing a shirt from their school days that they swore used to be white, and the kind of trousers that Michael Jackson used to wear to moonwalk.

4. The Wanderer

At work I’m not a huge fan of being disturbed on an adhoc basis, especially if I’m concentrating on a particularly challenging project (some people might call that miserable!).

However, this is because there are those individuals in every office that like to wander around for a little chat, oblivious to the fact that you have deadlines to meet.

The Wanderer likes to share every little intricacy of their lives with anybody who will listen.  Do I really care that you went to a craft fair at the weekend and finally found that cantaloupe twine to finish off your apple shaped tea cosy?

Apart from their boring hobbies, the Wanderer either has a work load that is too light or an attention span of a goldfish and that is why they fill their working day with inane chatter.

5. The Parasite

This is the really annoying work colleague who will think nothing of plagiarising a great idea you have and then claiming it as their own to gain an advantage.

If you recognise a parasite amongst your team, be careful not to share any ideas with them.  Before you know it, they will have registered the URL and scuttled off to share their incredible ideas with the boss.

They are usually the most sycophantic of individuals and about as popular with their fellow colleagues as a British contestant at Eurovision.

6. The Toucher

The Toucher is the annoying work colleague that always likes to greet you with a squeeze of the arm or someone who will creep up behind you and place a hand on your shoulder.

For whatever reason, they feel that some body contact will really hammer the message home.

I know a lot of people, and typically the female sect of the office, who think nothing of giving each other a friendly hug from time to time, whereas the chaps might stretch to a handshake.

But I know of many people who feel a little bit uncomfortable with physical contact in the office and who knows when that friendly hug might go all ‘Disclosure‘?

7. The Prankster

We all like a joke from time to time.  It lightens the mood at work and can often re-inject a little energy into a flagging workforce.

However, the Prankster is an individual who is on a mission to play practical jokes on as many of his co-workers as he can.

They will think nothing of super gluing your mug to the mouse pad, changing your PC wallpaper to something obscene or simply unplugging your monitor and keyboard.

They are usually about as funny as haemorrhoids and are slow to realise that their wacky antics are making them extremely unpopular with their colleagues.

8. The Broken Clock

This is the individual that is always late to work.  They also manage to take long lunches, miss deadlines and then leave work bang on 5.30pm.

And they are at their most creative when conjuring up a myriad of excuses for their poor punctuation from roadworks, sick pets, their fifth dying grandmother, a dodgy curry or problems with the kid’s school.

The worst thing is that they never get pulled up on their tardiness by management who seem to brush the problem under the carpet time and time again.

Lazy management’s solution to the problem is to send the repeat offender on a time management course, which of course they will probably miss!

9. The Insufferable One

One of the most commonly seen annoying work colleague is the person who has absolutely no regard or respect for the people around them.

How do you know if you have an insufferable one amongst you?  If the person next to you is cracking his knuckles, drumming his table, whistling inanely or chewing like he has cud in his jaw, then you know you are sitting next to an obnoxious irritant.

Other irritating traits include shouting down the phone like the person they are talking to is stuck down a well, or hearing them boast down the phone how they have an executive box at some random sporting event or how their whopping bonus is buying them a Caribbean holiday.

Their lack of respect for their fellow workers isn’t just annoying, it can also have a serious impact on productivity.

10. The Weirdo

And to finish my run down of the 10 most annoying work colleague traits, I present to you the Weirdo.

This is the chap who will greet you in the morning in his native Klingon, whist wearing his favourite kipper tie and ironic 3-D glasses with the lenses removed.

His desk will be covered in his favourite World of Warcraft figurines, including a hand painted Garm Whitefang which of course is his online persona.

Naturally shy and often introverted, the Weirdo is always quick to paraphrase the latest tabloid conspiracy theory and will spend his lunchtimes searching the web for jedi costumes for his pet pig.

You can humour the Weirdo and pretend that you “get them”, but really they are best left to mingle with their own sort.

In summary…

And so concludes our list of 10 of the most annoying work colleagues you’re likely to come across.  However there are other factors that might annoy you just as much as someone’s personality.

A study of 1,836 UK adults by Opinium Research LLP, between 15th and 18th January 2010, identified that the 10 top most annoying things to happen in a UK office are as follows:

  1. Grumpy or moody colleagues (37%)
  2. Slow computers (36%)
  3. Small talk/ gossip in the office (19%)
  4. The use of office jargon or management speak (18%)
  5. People speaking loudly on the phone (18%)
  6. Too much health and safety in the work place (16%)
  7. Poor toilet etiquette (16%)
  8. People not turning up for meetings on time or at all (16%)
  9. People not tidying up after themselves in the Kitchen (15%)
  10. Too cold air conditioning (15%)

I’m sure we’ve all moaned about one or two things on that list at some point…

- James Ball

James Ball

James is the founder and owner of Coburg Banks and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes.

> More blog posts by James Ball

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