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Are You Annoying People at Work?

Unfortunately people taking phone calls via speaker phone, listening to music without headphones, and entertaining a posse’ of visitors in his/her cube is not limited to the movie Office Space, which should be required viewing for anyone who works with other people.

Cubeland can be loud. And most people are hesitant to ask our coworkers to quiet down. We’re afraid of the conflict. We don’t want our coworkers to dislike us, talk poorly about us when we’re not there, or kill us off. So we suffer in silence, hoping the person will get a clue that he’s making us crazy. He won’t. If he knew the phone calls bugged you, he would have already stopped making them.

You may find it incredulous that your coworkers don’t know how annoying noise in cubeland is. It’s an obvious, no brainer. How could they not know?

annoying people at work

Much of Candid Culture’s work is dedicated to people feeling more comfortable telling the truth at work. But even with books, and training on how to establish candid relationships and tell the truth, speaking up is often challenging. So know that if you are doing annoying people at work, they are not likely to tell you.

Here’s what you can do: Avoid annoying people at work.  For your convenience, I’ve made a short list.

  1. Conversations, music, and phone calls taken on speaker phone in cubicles. Take the meeting or conversation to an empty office or conference room.
  2. People who are late for meetings and text or email throughout meetings.
  3. People who start most sentences with, “No we can’t do that, and here’s why.”
  4. People who say they’ll do something and miss the deadline every time.
  5. People who borrow your stuff and don’t return it.

Look at how much stress I’ve saved you. Now you don’t need to give the people you work with feedback, you can just forward them this blog, which is a passive aggressive form of feedback. But it beats throwing their phone out the window or hiding out in an empty office so you can actually get some work done.

If you choose candor instead (which I, of course, prefer) simply say, “It’s hard to work when music is playing, or when you’re on your speaker phone, or you’ve got visitors in your cube. I know space is at a premium. But if you’d be willing to take the conversations elsewhere, I’d really appreciate it.” Done in twenty seconds or fewer. And no one died. You can do it. And if you can’t, call me, and I’ll do it. It’s always easier to have these conversations when they’re not your own. But it will cost you a bag of chocolate chip cookies or perhaps a Candor Bar.


Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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