The more time you spend in shared quarters with others, the more likely it is that someone will get on your nerves (or vice versa). And while there are obvious ways to be respectful of others at the office, often it’s the small actions and habits you may not even be aware you’re doing that can end up making you less likable in the eyes of your coworkers. Here’s a look at the behaviors to be aware of at the office, and what you can do to make sure you avoid them.
1. Communicating through email only
Email is likely an appropriate mode of communication for most your workplace interactions — but if you find yourself opting to voice your criticism or opinion on a chain with team members rather than taking it up with the person you’re having the issue with, clinical psychologist Tricia Wolanin says it won’t cast you in a positive light. “Choosing to only discuss things via email versus in person can be frustrating,” she says. “People may find this unlikable particularly if some people only choose to form an opinion via email than in person, or opt to write things via email and cc numerous others as a way to call them out, instead of talking to that person.” Instead, Wolanin recommends discussing things of this nature in person to ensure you’re communicating effectively so that both parties are hearing the full picture.
2. Not being courteous in the office kitchen
You may see nothing wrong with bringing in fish leftovers for lunch — but if you’re sharing a small kitchen with others, it’s worthwhile to think about the impact reheating that dish will have for the next person who needs to heat up his or her meal. As clinical psychologist, Yesel Yoon explains, being courteous of the space is key. “The office kitchen is this in-between space where it’s both work-related and somewhat personal,” Yoon explains. “So when you’re not maintaining good kitchen etiquette, you can come off as lacking respect for others’ personal belongings and space, as not being courteous, and maybe even entitled.” To avoid coming off this way, Yoon says to keep track of what you bring into the kitchen, be mindful of how much space you’re taking up and what you leave behind. “Remember that if you’re not maintaining your stuff, then someone else will most likely end up needing to and that can, long term, breed resentment or bad work culture,” she says. Last but not least, always be sure the lunch you’re eating is yours.
3. Texting and emailing during meetings
Even if your office culture allows for laptops to be present at meetings, being the person who is constantly typing away on their phone or computer during a presentation can make you appear unlikable. “If you text or email during meetings or conversations you could be indicating that what is going on is less important or even trivial to you,” says clinical psychologist Jeptha Tausig. “Refraining from texting or emailing during meetings indicates you are focusing on the presenter and taking what they say seriously.”
4. Always being just a few minutes late
There are inevitably things that happen beyond our control that make us late to meetings. But if your office reputation is to be the person who strolls in 5 or more minutes after the meeting has already started, Tausig says it’s time to be more diligent in keeping track of time. “Being chronically late for meetings can make others feel you do not value their time as much as you value your own,” he says. “Being on time, even if you have to set reminders to yourself, indicates you view others with respect.”
5. Being overly social
Asking your coworker how their weekend went or what their upcoming plans are can be helpful questions for building rapport. But interrupting someone who’s clearly in the middle of something to ask these questions, or continuing to pry for personal details beyond what's being offered during a conversation takes things into uncomfortable territory. “In the workplace, there are some unspoken rules or cultural norms about how much personal stuff; is brought into the professional sphere,” says Yoon. “Avoid coming off as intrusive by finding appropriate opportunities to ask more personal questions and testing the waters. Ask one or two questions and then suss out from the colleagues’ reaction whether it seems you can ask more or not."
6. Appearing aloof
“Being the coworker who is always heads down in work can earn you respect. But if you find yourself using work as an excuse to avoid social interactions of any kind at the office (think, opting out of an office birthday celebration for one of your coworkers) can make you appear cold and distant. If you want to be valued and liked at work, practice showing interest and enthusiasm in your colleagues and the workplace,” says Yoon. “Share what feels appropriate to you, but give a little so you can get the warmth and sense of community and respect back from your colleagues.”