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How Annoying Can You be?

Ask anyone. Ask friends, co-workers or complete strangers. You are an annoying person.

You have annoying habits. You have annoying ideas. You’re annoying at work. You’re annoying when you’re not at work. You’re so annoying it annoys everyone to think about how annoying you are.

But ask yourself — are you as annoying as you can be?

If your answer is “probably not,” I have good news for you. A Beverly West article at lists the “Top 10 Annoying Habits at Work.” As West says, “A big part of many jobs is to collaborate effectively with others. That’s tough to do if your colleagues and supervisors find you irritating. And it’s easier than you might think to rub people the wrong way, even when you’re sitting at your desk minding your own business.”

If you’re one of those workplace weirdos who wants to get along with their colleagues, then this article could be useful in telling you what not to do. But for someone who wants to be as annoying as possible, so your colleagues and managers will leave you alone as much as possible, this article is a must-read.

Author West gets her list of annoying habits from Jen Star of the Jennifer Group, a recruiting firm that specializes, one assumes, in placing non-annoying people. I don’t have room to discuss all 10, which annoys you, I’m sure, but let’s get started anyway.

Annoying habit No. 1 is being “unprepared,” which Star believes, “demonstrates a lack of respect for your coworkers and yourself.”

This is not true. By not being prepared, you’re showing your confidence in your co-workers’ abilities to make up for your sloth. It’s another way of saying, “You guys are so good, the project will get done, even if I spend the week playing World of Warcraft. And just to prove how much you respect your teammates, don’t bother to mention their names when you take credit for the project.

“Not being a team player” is another annoyance. “If a coworker needs a little time off to run an important errand, be flexible and help out when you can,” suggests recruiter Star. I agree. If a co-worker needs to leave the office for a doctor’s appointment, volunteer to take their place — at the doctor’s appointment. Your medical issues are definitely more important than your co-worker’s feeble complaints, which are probably imaginary, anyway. And be sure to let your co-worker pay for the appointment. After all, they got to stay and work while you had to read those boring magazines in the doctor’s waiting room.

“You’re not self-reliant” is another supposedly annoying habit, though I can’t understand what’s so aggravating “giving up on the paper jam after only one try and expecting a coworker to fix it.” After all, you’re the one who caused the paper jam — must you also fix it? (And how are you supposed to know that amusing the hot new receptionist by putting a tuna sandwich through the paper feeder would gunk up the machine? You’re not an engineer!)

“You, umm, smell” is Star’s harsh judgment on an issue that is totally out of your control. It’s easy to say that you should not “generate strong smells” by “eating eggs or onions in the office,” but is this really fair on our nation’s farmers, who will be denied a large audience of cubical-bound onion eaters, and what about the economic disaster that would befall the totally innocent chickens? Besides, you always slather your body with Old Spice when you finish your daily egg and onion omelet, and you diligently reapply when you finish microwaving your lunch of Limburger and cabbage casserole. If your co-workers object, provide them with clothespins. They work well and they’re organic!

Some people are apparently annoyed when you’re “loud on the phone,” and that “phone foreplay can really drive one up a wall.” This could be true for some workers, but your romantic burblings are so poetic and so erotic that everyone will put down their copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” to listen. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to share your sex secrets, but that’s the price of being a love god.

Walking “like an elephant” is the final annoyance we must address. If you don’t want to be a pachyderm at work, start taking ballet lessons. Who could be annoyed as you tour jete up and down cubical row? Just be careful the management doesn’t get annoyed when they hear all the applause and the “bravos!”

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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