Steve Jobs is said to have walked around in bare feet, only showered once a week and rarely washed his clothes and hair. He was always on some wacky food regime that caused stinky permeation from his pores. He smelled, looked like something the cat dragged in, cried in public when he didn’t get his way and bullied friends and employees with put downs and tirades. He went on to become a household name, a billionaire and a revered role model. All the same, his behaviours when in his twenties, would have got him fired or never hired, were he to apply to a company he didn’t own.

A survey of over 5000 employees confirmed that workers are best to leave their bad habits at home. Better yet, wake up and smell the roses. Learn social etiquette and common decency if you don’t work alone out of your garage.

The survey, commissioned by a British employment law consultancy firm, found these workplace annoyances, in order from highest to lowest, the most irksome.

1. The smell of certain hot foods. Curries, garlic and fish dishes linger in the air and may even transfer to your coats and garments in the vicinity. Even a tuna fish sandwich eaten in an unventilated area can be smelly.

2. Removing your shoes at your desk, (walking around in your bare or stockinged feet). If you work in a closed office, fine, kick off those pinchers, under your desk. In a shared space, bring comfortable shoes to replace the 4 inch heels you love to hate by 4pm every afternoon. If your feet sweat, they probably smell, keep those shoes on.

3. Personal hygiene. Not washing your hands after using the washroom, clipping toenails and fingernails, and nose picking at your desk are just not acceptable behaviour, period. It’s one thing to put mascara and blush on while riding public transit, but clipping toenails at work, give me a break!

4. Leaving a mess. “Your mother doesn’t work here” is a sign I see in a lot of office lunchrooms. Don’t leave dirty dishes, a mess from food prepping in the office kitchen, or your dirty cup in the sink. It isn’t going to clean itself and there is no kitchen fairy that will miraculously clean up after you.

5. Taking possessions without asking. Can’t find your stapler, your post it notes, your favorite pen? Look on Jane’s desk, yup, there it is, again. True, office supplies you use at work are not YOURS, they belong to the company, but they have been assigned to you. Put your name of your ‘stuff’ if this is a regular occurrence and ask your colleagues to ask you before they borrow and go into your desk.

6. Bringing crying babies to the office. Everyone is thrilled you have a new baby and they can’t wait to see it, in the reception room or at lunch in a restaurant. There are people working for a living in an office and distractions are not welcome, be it a crying baby or a construction team outside the window.

7. Gossiping. A gossiper is considered a difficult person, don’t do it and don’t condone it, walk away.

8. Unnecessary emails. Think twice before you cc the entire office, be it a directive or a simple thank you.

9. Co-workers not carrying their weight. Management should ensure that every employee has the ability to do the work they are assigned and that they enjoy doing the work.

10. Swearing. Expletives are one thing when your computer crashes or you stub your toe, four letter words in day to day discourse are verboten.

My additions

11. Eating peoples’ lunches out of the fridge. One guy I know made a Gainsburger (dog food patty) sandwich to catch the person who stole his lunch every week. Got ‘em!

12. Interrupting me with your problems during my lunch hour or when I am on the phone. Begin each interruption with, “is this a good time?” or “do you have seven minutes?”

13. Talking too loudly on the phone. Remember to use your inside voice, inside your cubicle.

14. Too many personal calls at work/surfing the internet. You think you are just calling your mother for a quick catch up and ten minutes later you are lagging behind with your TO DO list. Checking how many golds Canada got in the Pan Am games is a lunch time activity.

Having taught many ‘Respect in the Workplace’ workshops, I can vouch for these annoyances as being truisms. Some of these require some give and take, some are comical, but not really, most are common sense. Too many of these occurrences in the workplace are making employees unhappy. How guilty are you?