If your colleagues irritate you, you're not alone

Share

I don't want to worry anyone, but all the news suggests that we are a nation permanently on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Half of British people don't trust their neighbours, according to a recent poll of 2,000 people by the Yorkshire Building Society. One in 10 is "suspicious" of people who move in next door. Londoners are the worst. (Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs – as they don't say in London.)

The workplace is no better. Another survey of 2,000 people, this one for the Institute of Leadership and Management, found that workers are driven wild with irritation by their colleagues, too. One hopes that these surveys studied two separate sets of 2,000 people, because anyone who lives in the overlap of that Venn diagram must be constantly stressed: fleeing home then arriving at work to find people leaving dirty plates on their desks and going off for cigarettes all the time.

The top three annoyances are, apparently, arriving late; sending emails to colleagues instead of talking; and never getting the teas in. "Wearing unsuitable clothes" such as flip flops or skimpy outfits is another, as are bringing children into work and gossiping about colleagues. But what if that means gossiping about a colleague's skimpy outfit, or the fact that his child has retuned your computer to CBeebies? What if you don't drink tea? What about the colleagues who insist on talking to you when you'd rather just read an email? Or the ones who secretly use your chair when you're not looking and adjust it in all sorts of sneaky ways?

If we examine the list of office workers' grievances, most of them are about the misuse of personal space, both physical and mental. It's the same with neighbours. People just want to be left alone with their own thoughts without being bothered by emails, germs, body parts or offspring. No wonder people in London are more annoyed about it than most: there are too many people in the city and there is not enough room. We're all just one sneeze away from stabbing each other in the eyes with the contents of the stationery cupboard.

As Professor Cary Cooper from Lancaster University points out: "Millions of workers spend more of their waking hours at work than at home", and of course you can't choose your colleagues. But to be fair, if we spent as much time with our partners as we do with our workmates, we'd probably end up getting divorced. Your office husband or wife (the person of the opposite sex with whom you spend most time at work – you know who they are) does not just see more of you than your real friends do; they inevitably deal with more of your rubbish, too. And they don't even get to see the fun, weekend you.

Really, we should be grateful to our colleagues. They have to put up with us because they're paid to. And if they didn't talk to us (even when we'd prefer an email), maybe nobody would. We might even be reduced to meeting our neighbours.

twitter.com/@katyguest36912

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions