When it comes to annoying coworkers, everyone has been there- literally everyone, according to a recent study. A survey of 2,000 Americans by Olivet Nazarene University found that 100 percent of respondents reported being irritated by coworkers on the job.

The most common offenses include loudness and complaining (49 percent); gossiping and bullying (32 percent); and bathroom and eating habits (12 percent), followed by email and meeting habits (6 percent) and personal hygiene issues (1 percent).

Interestingly, 71 percent of employees admit that they had been confronted by an officemate exhibiting annoying behavior. This is a great time to review some of the most common ways that colleagues aggravate each other and how to do an honest assessment of your own behavior.

Fortunately, the most commonly cited bad behaviors are completely preventable. Improvements to the working environment are always welcome, so if you recognize yourself in any of these most typical office annoyances, correct your course as needed.

Noisy Fidgeters

Sighing, throat-clearing, humming, whistling, knuckle-cracking, gum-snapping and finger tapping are mindless habits which can become overwhelmingly annoying over time. The worst, in my opinion, is someone who makes loud crunching noises when they eat. Not exactly a fidget, but irritating just the same.

Loud Talkers

Whether chatting with other coworkers or talking on the phone, if you are in an open concept office and don't have the sound protection that a wall offers, you need to be on your guard throughout the day. Many people tend to talk more loudly when they're on the phone, so if you know you have a long phone conversation scheduled, consider moving to a conference room or some other private space. Also taboo: using a speakerphone so you don't have to hold the phone. This is only acceptable behind closed doors where the sound will not bother anyone else.


If you are someone who doesn't wash your hands before cooking in the office kitchen or after visiting the restroom, you can be sure that people notice. They'll also be watching as you stick your entire hand into the candy dish to fish out your favorite chocolate after coughing or sneezing. And finally, if you feel an upper respiratory infection or signs of the flu, stay home. It's really about showing a healthy respect for your fellow workers.

Conversation Monopolizers

Almost every office has at least one person who is infatuated with the sound of their own voice and tends to dominate meetings or even casual chit-chat by the water cooler. If you find that people don't say much when you talk to them, it may be because you are speaking without pause. Ask questions, practice listening and give other people a chance to talk.

Food Offenders

There are so many ways your eating habits may be repulsing your coworkers. Be sure to clean up after yourself when using the office kitchen, taking care of any spills, microwave splatters, crumbs and dirty dishes when you're done. Nothing is worse than sitting down to a greasy table with crumbs left behind by your coworkers.

Distracting Details

If people can tell you are around the corner based on the overbearing scent of your cologne or the jangle of your jewelry, it's time to make a change. Go easy on the perfume or, given the sensitivities many people have toward scent, avoid it altogether at work. Wear clothing and jewelry that won't stand out in a negative way. The sounds from your comfortable flip flops are not only annoying but also unprofessional.

Finally, it may behoove you to do your own investigation. Ask your coworkers what you do to bring out the best (and worst) in others. Make the inquisition light and upbeat. You may find you are doing something which can be easily changed. I asked my associates and was told, I'm an office yeller. I don't utilize the intercom system as efficiently as I should and I tend to "yell" from my office to the next when I have a quick question. Okay, point taken. My feelings aren't hurt... too much. In my defense, I have a good attitude and occasionally bring in doughnuts!