What if you’re the problem? These behaviors, words, and habits might be inadvertently driving your colleagues up the wall.
After reading about the divide between millennial and Gen Z emoji use, I began to worry that all my thumbs-ups in Slack might be taken the wrong way. (For the record, my thumbs-ups are always sincere.)
And while I know that when I interrupt one of my colleagues I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just excited about ideas and “cooperatively overlapping,” are they all secretly gritting their teeth when I chime in?
If you’re like me and worry that you might be inadvertently ticking off your coworkers, here are a few potentially annoying behaviors to be aware of. Keep them at bay and you’ll stay on everyone’s good side.
Cut out the jargon
Jargon is insidious—chances are you’ve “circled back” more than once—and nearly universally derided. In fact, one survey found that the reason almost half of Americans find a colleague difficult to work with is their use of workplace jargon.
Jargon is a linguistic crutch that’s easy to miss, so perhaps the most effective way to cut it out in your written communication is simply to read over your Slack and email messages before hitting send—which is generally a good idea, anyway. In your spoken communication, it’s a matter of finding other phrases to swap in, like replacing “Let’s think outside the box” with “Let’s think of a more creative approach.”
Interrupting and talking too much
Even if, like me, you have the best of intentions when you chime in, check that you are actually building on what the other person is saying, not just interjecting your opinion or vocalizing your agreement. Often, if you wait until the other person is finished speaking, the point you were going to interject will come up naturally.
It’s also important to check your status; interrupting can be seen as a power play, even if you don’t intend for it to be. The same goes for talking too much in meetings. If you really can’t help yourself, use the “raise hand” function in virtual meetings, or send a follow-up note after.
Oversharing and Overconfidence
Being confident in your work is an asset, but don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. It’s important to be open to others’ perspectives and remind yourself that you don’t always have the answers. And, speaking of others’ feelings, venting to trusted coworkers can be a good stress relief, but it can veer into toxic territory when you complain or gossip too much.
The good news is that if you are questioning whether your workplace behaviors might annoy your colleagues, you already have the self-awareness it takes to make changes.