Question: I have a co-worker who is constantly smacking the gum she chews. The worst part is that she is the boss’ daughter, so I can’t really complain to anyone (other than my co-workers, which I do – a lot!) How do I handle such an annoying co-worker in such a small office? — Charmaine
Answer: A long time ago, in a workplace far, far away, I worked in an evil kingdom of two-faced liars, jerk bosses and mostly incompetent co-workers.
Other than that, it was a lovely place to work.
One of these geniuses, like, really liked to say the word “like” a lot. And no, he wasn’t 15; try doubling that. It drove us all crazy. That is, until the day that we plotted our revenge — err, solution. We decided that every one of us would also drop the word “like” into our conversations with him, like, well, so many likes.
“Like, wow Gerry, that is like, so rude of our manager to ask you to, like, work late.” “I agree! It is so, like, inconsiderate of him and, like, unnecessary. You should, like, tell him no.”
Gerry caught our drift quickly and while he clearly didn’t like it, it solved the problem pronto. And the beauty of this plan was that he couldn’t single out one particular person to pin any blame on. We were collectively guilty, and it was singularly effective.
Likes be gone!
But the "like" monster isn’t the only annoying co-worker type we have in our working world. Here are six other common types of annoying co-workers:
1. Nopey: Not to date myself too much or anything, but back in the day there was a claymation cartoon called Gumby. Gumby had a dog named Nopey. The only thing Nopey could ever say was, “No!” “Hey Nopey, wanna go for a walk?" "No!” “Nopey, would you like this new bone to chew on?" "No!”
Does it ever feel like you work in an office of Nopeys? Personally, I find the most common reason that people enjoy saying no is that it gives them a (false) sense of power. By denying you what you want, by saying that whatever it is can’t be done, they simultaneously avoid having to do extra work while also maintaining their sad little fiefdom.
2. The pig: This annoying co-worker is generally found in the break room. The guy who secretly eats your lunch (a very, very common office pet-peeve.) The gal who refuses to wash her dishes.
3. The hoarder: I had the best grandfather in the world. One of his tricks was something he called, “The Magic Box.” Pop kept it in the trunk of his car, and whenever he would come over to visit, he would have all the kids on the block come over to his car. Then he would open the trunk and ceremoniously open the Magic Box for us. Somehow, every time, it was always full of candy, and no matter how much we took, it was full the next time he came over too. Magic!
Hey, what can I say? I was 8.
In any case, the point here being that there are not a few employees out there who think that the supply closet at work is the grown-up version of the Magic Box. It never seems to run dry, and they never seem to tire of pilfering it for personal use.
4. The gossiper: Is there anyone more injurious to a cohesive workforce than the gossiper? Makes no difference if it’s true or false, just as long as he or she gets to wag their tongue about someone behind their back.
5. Mr. Clueless: Mr. Clueless talks too loud. Or he smells bad. Or he cuts out too early. Or he YELLS WHEN HE EMAILS. Or he thinks his presentation is supposed to incorporate every single oddball PowerPoint trick he’s ever learned.
6. The cheapskate: How can it be that that round of drinks he always promises to buy never occurs, or the place he picks when it’s your turn to buy is super nice?
Do any of these sound like someone you know? Probably. Let’s just hope it’s not you.
Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship who has been writing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.