How to Pick Out Annoying Employee Behaviors

“I got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re going to hear about it!” - Frank Costanza

When people annoy me, I try to turn the other cheek. I try to put it into perspective, first world problems and what not. Then there comes a time when I’ve reached my breaking point and I feel like Frank Costanza at Festivus.  This is the airing of my grievances.  Issues that I'm sure you’ve encountered and dealt with to some extent.  I know we can all be annoying at times.  I may have annoyed some of you with my Seinfeld reference.  We've all been guilty of leaving a dish in the sink because we were in a hurry, or not saying "Please" or "Thank You" when making a request of a co-worker.

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That’s why I’m taking it to the next level, taking it beyond the bad manners to the level of complete and utter disrespect that is hardwired in people and sometimes almost impossible to break.

The “Attention Seekers”

These people always have to be in the spotlight, but it’s typically for the wrong reason. They like to argue every single point. A Devil’s Advocate you say? No, not at all.  They argue any point just to engage in arguments to try and cast their wit and knowledge about the office.  Something like,“Don’t argue with Bill.  He’s really smart.” However, these attention seekers aren't necessarily smart; they just want you to think that they're smart. They are really loud and obnoxious and people tend to stay clear. How do you deal with this behavior?  If they report to you, you have to coach them to play Devil’s Advocate only when it’s appropriate--not on everything.  If you work with them, you can handle it one of two ways.  The next time they do it, call them out on it.  Don’t be disrespectful.  Kindly point out their behavior from your perspective: “You know, sometimes I think you disagree just to start an argument.”  The other thing you can do is not engage in the behavior.  Take the advice your mother gave you and ignore their actions.

The “Hard Workers Who Are Hardly Working”

These people are constantly busy, are always stressed out and have the worst luck in the world. When it comes to work, when asked if they can help out with something, you typically hear the, “I’d love to, but the project I’m working on just fell to pieces and I have to start from scratch!” They play upon your sensitivities and now you’re saying, “Oh my gosh! That’s horrible! Can I do anything to help you?” Now, you’re taking on their work while they shop online or gossip in the break room.  It’s the old “look over here, while I’m doing this over here” routine.  When it comes to their performance, it’s more distractions like, “Well I couldn’t get it done because the operations team didn’t do their part.” Or “Why are you picking on me?  I get more done than Trish, and she’s a horrible worker.”  How do you deal with this behavior?  If this person reports to you, you have to micromanage a bit.  Ask to see their work.  Give them deadlines and make them stick to them.  If you work with this person, don’t be a sucker.  You know what's going on with your team and department.  If you feel like you're being taken advantage of, it’s because you are.  Don’t perpetuate the bad behavior.  What you accept, you encourage, Grasshopper.

The “Confidence Breakers”

These people are concerned about everyone and everything.  They want you to trust them so you'll spill the beans more.  Then they turn around and tell everyone what you’ve told them in confidence. “I heard you in the conference room.  You seemed really upset.  Do you want to talk?”  Next thing you know, they're in the office next door repeating everything you say.  Then they're in the break room repeating it again, and again and again.  But it's not just to you.  It's done to everyone they interact with.  How do you deal with this behavior?  If they report to you, don’t reveal confidential information or information about anything that doesn’t pertain to them.  If you need to vent or complain, find a different resource or a different way.  And always remember, “Loose lips sink ships.”  Right, matey?

The “Master Manipulators”

I put “Master” in the name on purpose. That wasn’t just clever alliteration on my part.  They've earned a degree in Manipulation. They can turn a situation upside down and inside out before you even know what’s happened! This person does whatever needs to be done to advance, protect and make themselves appear more important. They quickly identify the wounded herd member and preys upon them before the meeting starts. You cannot trust this person, but many people falsely place their loyalties there. How do you deal with this behavior? If this person reports to you, nip it in the bud! You have to be stern the first time it happens. Does the possibility of firing this person come up? If you don’t address the issue, it will never ever stop. If you work with this person, keep your cards close to your vest.  If you feel something's being misrepresented or misconstrued, bring it to the attention of your manager. Do not let them make you or your company a victim. Also, try to protect those they might view as unsuspecting prey. You don’t want the Circle of Life happening in your conference room.

There are more out there I didn’t get to because I wanted to see if you've ever come across these behaviors in the workplace. Or maybe there are others out there that are just as much a nuisance to work around? If so, what are your tricks or suggestions in dealing with these behaviors at work?

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