November 16, 2017

With a standard 40-hour work week, many of us end up seeing our coworkers more often than our own families. So it’s not a surprise that our coworkers can get on our nerves. We surveyed 2,000 working Americans about common annoyances in the workplace, and the number one source of tension is interpersonal relationships. Here’s what people had to say.

First, the fact that 100% of the respondents admit to getting annoyed at work is not surprising. We are human, after all, and an office full of different kinds of people with different experiences is bound to create some personality clashes. Luckily, the majority of respondents claim to be annoyed only with up to five coworkers. To the 2% that are annoyed by 10 or more coworkers, perhaps it’s time to find a new job!

It’s not always who we work with but what we do that can contribute to in-office tension. The healthcare and insurance industries have the highest number of annoying coworkers and 40% of the respondents who work in fashion/art and retail claim to be the most annoyed on a regular basis.

So what are all these coworkers doing that is so irksome? 48% of respondents claim general loudness and complaining, followed by 31% who said gossiping and bullying behavior was most annoying about their colleagues. Respondents in communications and journalism have the most gossipy workplaces, and because those industries are people-centric, discussing others’ business becomes a workplace side effect.

The majority of respondents (78%) did claim to confront the annoying coworkers, either through another coworker (47%), directly (30%), or through a boss or supervisor (18%). Those going to the boss are probably Baby Boomers, since they are less likely to confront a person directly. Interestingly, 3% of those surveyed would rather involve the entire office in a personnel matter than bring their concerns to the very department designed to handle such matters; only 2% used Human Resources. Unfortunately, it appears that it doesn’t matter how the confrontation happens, because 70% claim that the issue was not resolved after addressing it or the coworker.

To be fair, sometimes we are the offenders. Of those surveyed, 71% said they have been confronted by a coworker for being the annoying officemate and of those, 65% were men and 35% were women. While it’s not fair to ask, “Are men or women more annoying in the workplace?” there might be bigger social patterns at play such as seniority level, office hierarchy, and gender power perceptions.

The good news is that despite being annoyed from time to time, respondents aren’t so distressed by their coworkers that they will risk their livelihoods. Only 18% stated that annoying coworkers led them to consider finding new jobs and 36% actually did. In the end, putting up with people who are different from ourselves is part of living in a modern civilization. Those who take the high road might find themselves in the company of less annoying colleagues. 

 

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