In today’s workplace, there are certain situations and behaviors that some people see as disruptive and just plain annoying…and, if ignored, can turn into bigger conflicts. Here are 10 of the most common (in no particular order):
1. Ringing cell phones
2. Conducting personal business over the phone, loudly enough for co-workers to hear
3. Whiny co-workers (especially those who complain about everything but are never willing to do anything to change things)
4. Checking voicemail with the “speaker phone” turned on (especially if you work in a cubicle)
5. Loud talkers
6. Wearing too much fragrance (cologne or perfume)
7. People who barge in, or interrupt, when it’s clear you are busy
8. Being “cc’d” on emails that don’t really involve you
9. People who use off-color language
10. Co-workers who: leave an empty coffee pot, neglect to refill the paper tray, use the last paper towel and walk away, etc.
The people who create these situations or act in this way usually don’t even know they’re bothering people. And the people who are negatively impacted by the behaviors are usually reluctant to do anything about it. But left unchecked, tensions can build over time.
Here’s a simple way you, as a leader or trainer, can get seemingly minor workplace annoyances out in the open and keep them from turning into full-fledged conflicts.
1) Add any other potential annoyances you can think of to the list above and send it to your staff. Ask people to identify the ones that bother them the most.
2) Tally the results and use the findings to illustrate how an action that didn’t bother some people, really bothered others. Use this as an illustration of workplace diversity and respect, and request that people accept and acknowledge everyone’s differences.
3) If you like, gather your team together in person to further discuss the results. You may wish to ask the following questions and/or make the following points:
- • What are some signs (body language, verbal cues, nonverbal cues, behavior) that might indicate someone at work is bothered by something you are doing?
- • What can you do to be more considerate of people even when you see a situation differently than they do?
- • How do you feel when someone is thoughtful and considerate toward you?
- • Sometimes you’re not aware of what bothers someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they’re bothered. Be more aware of behaviors that might clue you in.
- • Consider situations that really bother some people but don’t bother you at all. These differences of opinion are a sign of diversity. Being considerate is about being more accepting of other people’s differences.
- • Remember—the workplace is a shared environment. Everyone has the same rights as everyone else. If we work at being thoughtful and considerate to everyone at work, we will do our job better and be more productive and more successful.
4) Pick 3 of the behaviors your group identified as most annoying and gain everyone’s commitment not to do these things for a week. Follow-up to see if the behaviors have been curtailed.
Taken, in part, from the Leader’s Guide for the CRM Learning program, Start Right…Stay Right.