Are You the Annoying Co-Worker?

10 questions to find out if you irk colleagues

By Anthony Balderrama, writer

Annoying co-workers are, well, annoying. They bug us. They get on our nerves. They make us grit our teeth and roll our eyes. We wish we didn’t know them, much less spend 40 hours of our week with them. If only we could tell them that they’re irritating and solve the problem.

Before you stomp over to your annoying co-workers’ desks and start dispensing your advice, perform some self-analysis. You might not be so perfect yourself. In fact, right now someone might be thinking that you need a good talking to.

To make sure you’re not the annoying co-worker, take this quiz and hope for the best. (Hint: If you’re not the bothersome co-worker, feel free to print out this quiz and leave it where the offending parties will find it.)

1. You’re stressed. You’re busy at work and your home life is hectic. You walk through the front doors and …
A. … do your job, mentioning your stress level only if it’s relevant to the conversation.
B. … sigh deeply until someone asks you what is wrong.

2. You had the best wild salmon for dinner. You …
A. … tell everyone to order it the next time they’re at the restaurant.
B. … heat up the leftovers in the microwave, allowing everyone to enjoy its pungent aroma.

3. You’re a busy person, so …
A. … you make sure to get all your work done during business hours so you don’t have to take it home.
B. … you show up an hour late and leave an hour early because someone else will pick up the slack.

4. Your new ringtone is awesome and deserves to be heard, so …
A. … you play it for your co-workers during lunch.
B. … leave your ringer volume set to high so everyone can hear it every time you receive a call.

5. You have new ideas on how to improve certain procedures at work, so you …
A. … suggest them to your supervisor and ask for permission to test them out.
B. … tell everyone that they’re doing things all wrong and should listen to you instead.

6. Your children are adorable. Everyone thinks so.
A. The pictures on your desk are enough proof that you’re one proud parent.
B. Bringing your brood into the office so they can run amok and interrupt the workday is an effective way to show them off.

7. You think you’re getting sick …
A. … so you try to work from home to avoid infecting others.
B. … but you’re determined to show up every day for work, even if you’re pale and coughing up a lung.

8. You find some funny Web sites you want to share with co-workers.
A. You forward only the best ones to a few select co-workers who share your sense of humor.
B. You send every amusing link you come across, certain that a dozen e-mails will not waste your colleagues’ time.

9. You and 10 other colleagues receive an e-mail from the boss.
A. You decide that your response is relevant only to your boss and reply only to her.
B. You reply to all, even if your message is irrelevant to 99 percent of the recipients.

10. You heard some good gossip that is possibly true …
A. … but you don’t want to spread rumors so you keep quiet.
B. … you can’t sit on the secret for too long, so you get the word out as quickly as possible.

Result: If you have more Bs than As, you are an annoying co-worker. The next time you’re in one of these situations, stop and ask yourself what you’d like your colleague to do in the situation. Then ask yourself what you’d normally do. If they’re not the same thing, err on the side of caution and do unto others as you’d like them to do to you.

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at


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