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Real Women Approved: 40+ Workplace Pet Peeves to Avoid

Jan 21, 2020

Workplace Pet Peeves to Avoid

Happy Tuesday!

Kendall here (and Jess, with a few quips ????) excited to be back with another Real Women Approved post–our series of crowdsourced advice from the most knowledgable group of women around–YOU!

Today’s topic: workplace pet peeves! 

You guys — we had NO idea how much we would love this post before seeing all of your responses roll in on Instagram! ???? This topic definitely struck a chord with so many of you!

As a fellow office dweller (Kendall here!), I felt so seen and validated reading through your feedback! ????

I have two overarching takeaways from your responses: 1) Many of us work in open floor plan offices (and battle the inevitable consequences!) and 2) Despite industries, geography and career levels, we all experience the same pet peeves. In fact, all of the themes included below were submitted COUNTLESS times!

While many of these responses are funny and shared commiseration can be a great coping mechanism, these themes also serve as incredible reminders of things to avoid in the workplace — and they highlight how important it can be to step in if you see others doing them. Thank you SO much to everyone who contributed their two cents!

Okay, let’s jump into the good stuff — here are 40+ workplace pet peeves to avoid:

Gossip as bonding

Office gossip is everywhere and some coworkers find it hard to talk about anything else. It can be a slippery slope when it comes to coworker chit chat. Remember: at worst, office gossip makes people uncomfortable, and at best, it makes your coworkers look at you differently — not just the people you’re gossiping about! At the end of the day, it’s just unprofessional. Don’t do it.

Being too loud

Yes- we can always hear you! While being silent all day is impossible, remember to keep your voice down when you can, book conference rooms for meetings and limit personal phone calls at your desk.

Telling people they look tired

Why is this an okay thing to say?! If your coworkers look tired, ask if you can help them with something instead of telling them they have bags under their eyes. ????

Making a point in saying you work harder than others

Busy is not a badge of honor and stress should never be used as a yardstick for success against others. Remember to show (and not talk about) your hard work!

The person that unnecessarily replies all on a group email

I don’t think this will ever go away! I’ll take a group email chain over an unnecessary meeting any day, though!

Having meetings at your desk in an open office

Yep- if conversations turn into full-blown meetings, take them to a conference room so others can focus!

Not lifting other people up out of a feeling of competitiveness

This is a great one! Unfortunately, some office cultures breed competitiveness, which can lead to all sorts of negative side effects. Do your part and lift up team members whenever you can — there’s room for everyone to succeed.

Taking video/phone conferences on speaker phone

See a trend happening? Ha! Be respectful of your coworkers’ time and use headphones or book a separate room for calls!

Don’t hover over people’s computers

Yes! This can be so flustering!

Taking pride in being “always tired/busy” — exhaustion is not a badge of honor

At the end of the day, stress and “busyness” is a choice. They don’t make you more impressive than someone next to you that prioritizes self-care and work/life balance — something to think about!

Clipping your nails at your desk

You guys. I would be shocked and horrified by just one response like this BUT SO MANY OF YOU experience this horridness! I am so sorry!! Personal grooming should never happen at your office desk!  

Feeling forced to socialize in the lunch room

This one can be really draining when you need a mental break and feel the need to be “on” through lunch. Try getting out of the office for your lunch break — even if it’s just a walk around the block OR bring a magazine/book and politely tell your coworkers you’re trying to catch up on your reading — hopefully they’ll take the hint!

Older coworkers who make jokes about your age

Even when they think they’re being funny or bonding with you, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable when coworkers comment on your age/lack of experience. Try to avoid this!

Leaving shared work spaces messy

Shared work spaces can be tough. Do your best to be a good neighbor. Alternatively, even if you have your own desk, try to keep it reasonably presentable — no one wants to look at piles of clutter all day!

Being called “sweetheart” or “dear”

Nope. This is so offensive! Treat coworkers with respect!

A coworker that won’t ask for help when they need it

It can be difficult to ask for help or come to terms with the reality that you can’t meet a deadline or handle your workload. Remember to throw up your hand and ask for help when you need it! Waiting until the last minute or working yourself to death does way more damage in the end to you and your team.

Micromanaging supervisors/managers

Oy- this one is SO tough! When you feel suffocated and babysat, it can be so hard to do your best work! If you feel micromanaged, do your best to communicate how you best work and take direction.

Women not supporting women

More blog post topic inspiration! This can be an entire series of posts, especially considering office culture and industry, so I’ll keep it short — There are so many ways to support your fellow female coworkers, including not turning a blind eye to sexism and mentoring/lifting up the women around you.

Eating full meals during work/at meetings. Take a real lunch break!

This can be so distracting! The smells, the chewing sounds and talking with an open mouth. ????‍♀️ Unless it’s a lunch meeting or a quick snack, find time in your day to eat your full lunch outside of meetings!

Also, you ALL said to not eat carrots at your desk. ???? 

Scheduling meetings over lunch

(Jess chiming in here) Speaking of lunch and meetings–this was one of my BIGGEST pet peeves working in advertising where hour-long lunch breaks were few and far between and sometimes even frowned upon. If you’re going to schedule a lunch meeting, you should be providing lunch for everyone. Don’t assume everyone else is OK giving up their break time just because you are.

Taking tons of personal calls at their desks

We all have those coworkers who everyone in the office knows all their intimate details because they insist on taking personal calls (loudly) from their desks. Take it outside or better yet- message your friends and family from your desktop like the rest of us ????

Talking to me when I’m on the phone/have earbuds in

Just because someone is at their desk, doesn’t mean it’s the best time to talk. Make sure to check that your coworker has a few minutes before you dive into chatting.

Coming to work sick

This one is so frustrating! Depending on sick days and PTO policies, I understand why some people try to work sick, but it’s so disrespectful for the whole office. If you’re in a leadership role, consider a more lenient sick day policy so team members can work from home or take off when they are sick.

People who insist on chatting with you when you’re trying to work

Some people really can’t take a hint or read body language. Be respectful and try not to monopolize your coworkers’ time — even if they are too nice to tell you they have to work.

Meetings that could have been emails

Definitely my #1 biggest pet peeve of all time! If you’re going to schedule a meeting, please have a clear reason and agenda that can’t be handled with a simple email or phone call.

Using “cheers!” as your email sign-off

????

Negative Nancys

Sometimes it’s a fine line between shared commiseration and being a negative Nancy — I think we’ve all been there. While some work days can be endlessly frustrating and ranting can be incredibly tempting, remember that constantly complaining will only make problems and vibes worse.

(Jess chiming in here) One of my old bosses gave me the best advice–and that is to only complain “up” and never complain “down.” Basically, complain to your manager, but don’t complain to anyone you manage. When was the last time you ever saw Negative Nancy in a leadership position? (Never!)

Coming by to ask if I saw your email a minute after you sent it

???????????? If the contents of an email are so important, call or swing by before sending the email.

FYI email forwards from managers with absolutely no explanation

This one is high on my list of pet peeves. If you want to forward newsletters or find an article compelling for a specific reason, share why you’re passing along the email. Without context, these forwards can come off as passive aggressive and irritating.

Anyone who thinks it’s ok to tell someone to smile

You never know what’s going on in someone’s day or season of life. If they seem down, try talking to them instead of calling out that they look mad/sad/etc.

Bad meeting manners- not keeping time, following agendas

We all make mistakes, but repeatedly disregarding meeting timelines is SO disrespectful to others!

Asking questions the second someone gets in for the day

This can be so overwhelming! Unless they’re consistently late and dropping the ball every day, let people get settled before bombarding them with questions.

All the smells

SO MANY of you have problems with this! Try to keep the extra smelly lunches, pungent perfumes and scented candles to a minimum in an open work space!

Lack of respect for time off (calling and texting for non-emergency things)

I think this would make a great follow up blog post, too! Nothing is more frustrating than your phone dinging with work questions every 20 minutes while you’re trying to take time off. Unless it is an absolute emergency, please don’t call/text/message coworkers when they’ve booked time off.

Office/email jargon:

No matter your industry, you surely battle cliche jargon every day. While it might not be possible to completely omit jargon, be cognizant of buzz words and relying on overly used phrases all the time.

Some of your favorites: 

  • Following up…
  • Circling back on…
  • Let’s put a pin in that…
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel…

Women apologizing for things they shouldn’t/when they have ideas

I’ve definitely been guilty of this before. Prefacing my ideas with “this might be silly” or asking a question with “sorry but…” Don’t apologize for ideas or questions!

Taking your shoes off at your desk

Unless you work as a yoga instructor, please keep your shoes on in the office. I’m still shocked by how many people think it’s ok to walk to the water cooler barefoot! ????

Talking on the cellphone in the office restroom

Oh, please don’t.

Personal questions – i.e. when you’re going to have kids

Nope. It’s never ok to ask personal questions or give unsolicited personal advice in an office setting. One of you said: “a coworker told me to worry about my kids now and work in moving up later.” ???? While you might be trying to make conversation, unless someone brings up their personal life and invites your insight, don’t ask them about it. You never know what hardships people are battling outside of work.

Blaming others

I learned early on in my career that the best leaders always accept sole responsibility for failures and share successes with their team. It’s never a good look to place blame on others even if something isn’t your fault. Instead of pointing the finger, bring a solution-focused perspective to the problem — because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is, what matters most is what happens next.

Coming to someone with a problem with no proposed solution or ideas

This is a great one to always keep in mind! When presenting a problem, always do some background research and brainstorm some proposed solutions or ideas! It goes a long way for team morale and makes you better at your job! It’s also especially good to keep in mind when you have to break bad news to a manager or team–always have a solution to go along with the problem!

 

There you go! A comprehensive, but undoubtedly not an exhaustive list, of your workplace pet peeves! ????

Have any to add? We’ll keep the list going! 

 Want more workplace advice? See “Why you should stop asking people to coffee” and “Want to get promoted? Read these 5 tips from my favorite bosses” 

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