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Quiz: Are you the annoying co-worker?

By Kate Lorenz

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Every office has at least one jerk, pest or loudmouth who drives the rest of the workers crazy.

Could it be you? Take this quiz to find out how annoying you might be:

How many of these statements describe you?

1. You make provocative statements to "foster dialogue" or needle others.

2. You often find yourself delivering a discourse consisting solely of buzzwords and catchphrases.

3. You make up nicknames for all your co-workers and refer to them only by these names. (e.g. "Good job, Chachi!"; "I'm going to have to disagree with you there, T-bone!")

4. Your office is completely decorated with your children's pictures and artwork.

5. You have plastered your cubicle with photos of yourself taken with famous people.

6. It is your trademark to recite rhyming or other cutesy messages as your voice mail greeting.

7. The questions you ask at meetings are preceded by long monologues of your views and accomplishments.

8. You routinely eat odoriferous lunches at your desk.

9. You bring in dishes that you tried to cook -- but didn't turn out quite right -- as "special treats" for your co-workers.

10. People seem tense -- even panic-stricken -- when they see you coming their way.

11. Others back away from you as you speak.

12. You send flurries of e-mails to the rest of the company telling them what you are doing. (e.g., "If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathroom.")

13. You vigorously chew or pop your gum.

14. You wear strong perfume or cologne.

15. You assume your co-workers are fascinated by your personal problems and exploits.

16. You interrupt others while they are speaking or are deep in conversation.

17. You are moody and don't care who knows it.

18. You often give others assignments as they're walking out the door for lunch or to catch the train home.

19. You borrow staplers, scissors and tape from others' desks and forget to return them.

20. Your dialogue with others often end with the other person shouting, "You are so annoying!"

If you counted one or two, not to worry, you quickly can make changes before you're labeled a pest.

If your actions match three to five of these statements, take heed. You are on your way to becoming the source of many an eye roll.

If you do six or more of these on a regular basis, chances are you are already on the office watch list and have been anointed by your co-workers as annoying.

It's time to do a reality check and make some changes. Ask your boss and colleagues for feedback and be ready to listen. If what you hear doesn't fit your self-image, ask them to help you understand what they are saying by giving examples.

You might say: "Tell me more about what I do that leads you to believe that." Then listen, without arguing, defending or justifying your actions.

Remember, there are countless ways to aggravate co-workers -- you even can annoy them by trying too hard to please or being too nice. As long as you avoid the aforementioned behaviors, use your energy for the good of the organization and treat others as you would like to be treated, you should be all right.

And remember, it's perfectly OK to annoy others sparingly. It reminds them that you still exist.

Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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