Most of us know the big office faux pas to avoid — even someone completely new to the workforce recognizes that lying, bullying, stealing, insubordination and the like are big no-nos. But beyond the major infractions of workplace decorum, there are a number of smaller, less serious but still irritating offenses. These things probably won't get you fired, but they sure can get on your coworkers' nerves after a while.
And if you really want to get ahead in the workplace, it helps for your colleagues to have your back. After all, having them put in a good word for you to your manager or senior leadership may just be the key to you getting that promotion or new assignment you've been wanting. Plus, when you're surrounded by folks that you have good working relationships with, showing up to the office every day is a whole lot more pleasant.
So if you want to stay on good terms with your colleagues, take a look at the eight following bad workplace habits — and make a mental note to drop them ASAP.
1. Responding to an Email Without Reading the Full Thing
This might be my number one pet peeve. I take a lot of pride in crafting strong emails, so when I send one out only to get a response that either a) asks a question whose answer can be found directly in the copy of the email or b) only addresses part of my query, I can’t help but roll my eyes. Sure, you might justify sending a hasty response because you’re busy — but chances are, your coworkers are too. And when they have to explain something to you again, you waste their valuable time. Do the right thing and read emails in their entirety before you fire back with further responses — it’s a small action, but when added up over and over again, it can make a big difference.
2. Chewing Loudly
Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with snacking at the office. Sometimes, a granola bar or stick of string cheese is exactly what you need to regain your energy and power through the afternoon. But if your coworkers can hear you even with headphones on, you need to mind your manners. If you need something to munch on, close your mouth, and preferably avoid snacks with particularly loud packaging. Your coworkers’ eardrums will thank you.
3. Setting Unnecessary Meetings
Look, meetings can definitely be useful (lord knows I love a good brainstorm). But if you set up 30 minutes on somebody’s calendar just to ask them a question that could easily be answered via a quick email or a five-minute chat, you should rethink your approach. Even if you don’t end up taking the full time you set aside, pulling people away from their desk can interrupt their flow state — and studies suggest it takes about 25 minutes to find your rhythm again. Handle things via email, chat or quick in-person discussions when you can, and save the meetings for brainstorms and big discussions.
4. Making Loud Personal Calls at Your Desk
Most of the time, people will be pretty understanding if you have to pick up an urgent business-related call at your desk — but when you make a habit of scheduling your doctor’s appointments or chatting with your significant other about tonight’s dinner plans while parked in your seat, your colleagues have a right to be irritated. More and more offices are opting into open seating, and while this can be great for collaboration, it also opens up the door for more distractions. Grab an empty conference room, step into the hallway or, if it’s nice enough, take a little walk outside. Who knows? Getting a little extra natural light may be just what the doctor ordered.
5. Constant Messaging
“Hey, I have a question.” “Hello?” “Hello??” “ARE YOU THERE???”
There are few quicker ways to drive your coworkers crazy than constantly sending them rapid-fire messages like these — especially if it’s after working hours. Technology has allowed us to get in touch with our colleagues faster than ever, but remember: with great power comes great responsibility. If the situation truly warrants it, you might be able to get away with sending chats like this. But if you want to build a good rapport with your office mates, it’s best to keep chat storms like this few and far between.
6. Typing While Someone’s Talking to You
It’s a scientific fact: people are generally worse at multitasking than they think they are. So even if you swear you can finish hammering out that email while fully processing your coworker’s brilliant new idea for a new feature, you probably can’t. People often resort to this as a time-saving measure, but the truth is, it’ll likely take you more time to half-heartedly attempt two things than to put your entire efforts behind one thing at a time. Besides, it’s just common courtesy to give someone your full attention!
7. Asking, “Have You Tried Googling That?”
For better or worse, Google has become a staple of our everyday lives. It’s to the point that whenever people encounter an obstacle at work, Google is usually the first place they turn. So if a coworker comes to you with a problem they can’t solve, technical or otherwise, try not to just tell them to Google it — odds are, they probably have and couldn’t find an answer, which is why they came to you. Suggesting the most obvious next step can come across as dismissive and condescending, so take the time to thoroughly hear them out and come up with a meaningful solution together.
8. Replying All Too Much
Who among us hasn’t had our inbox held hostage by a never-ending barrage of reply-alls at one point or another? You know how annoying it is to be on the receiving end, so use your best judgment when weighing in on a thread that was sent to a large group (especially if it’s an all-company email). Most workers out there suffer from inbox overload, so if you can do anything to help reduce the barrage of unnecessary communications they receive on a daily basis, your efforts will be greatly appreciated.