Do you work with someone who has a tendency to annoy you? Does this someone annoy lots of people? Let me assure you, I feel your pain. Lots of people, I’m sure, feel your pain.
See, in the workplace, people from numerous walks of life are thrown together for anywhere from six to ten hours a day, give or take. I’m trying to be as vague as possible with that because I really don’t know how long you happen to work on a given day. I’m at work for seven hours in my current job. But that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, unless you happen to be a hiring manager, you don’t get to choose the people with whom you work. So you’re not always going to like some of those people. If you’re very lucky, you’ll find that you get along with your coworkers, and may even become friends with them. But, chances are, there’s gonna be one or two that just get right under your skin and take up permanent residence on your last nerve.
Would you like an example from real life? Of course you would. I work at a school. And we all know that teaching is a noble profession. Those who choose to teach deserve our undying respect. Most of the time. Working closely with teachers has allowed me to get to know a number of them. I’ve come to know likes and particular dislikes. Especially where other teachers are concerned.
More often than not, during the school year, I choose to eat my lunch in the teacher’s lounge. It’s nice to hang out with the adults every now and then. Used to be I would eat lunch with one or two of the kids I work with each day. While that works out great when I need to clock some time, it meant that I was unable to get a decent break from the job during my day. You can learn a lot when eating with teachers. And I’m not talking about the various subjects they teach.
I’ve learned that there are certain teachers who love to talk. One, in particular, I’m convinced, might just be talking to hear herself speak. She may be in love with the sound of her own voice. Not a lunch period goes by without some kind of input from this particular teacher. Others in the room could be having a genuine conversation about some pressing matter. She will cheerily interrupt with her thoughts. But not her thoughts on the subject being discussed. These could be her thoughts on her current living situation or her latest imagined illness or why she likes the color purple.
I’m a quiet person by nature. I sit and listen. I observe. I see a lot of eyes rolling. I hear a lot of sighs. But no one seems willing to tell this woman that she gets on their nerves. I would, but I really don’t feel like it’s my place. Yet. I may get there some day.
I got close one day. In the afternoons, I join the teachers outside as the children load the buses to go home. As is usual, I stood there quietly, not speaking unless spoken to. For some reason, that afternoon, this was interpreted as an open invitation to the teacher mentioned above to walk up to me to talk about the weather. I was polite. I kept up my end of the conversation for as long as I felt was necessary. And then I walked back into the school. At which point several other teachers decided to point and laugh in my general direction.
I understand their annoyance. But I do believe, at times, they bring it on themselves. One morning I mentioned to a friend that I woke with a headache. At lunch, she asked if I was feeling any better. This opened a can of worms for that other, talkative teacher to go off on a tangent about her own headaches and how bad they can be. Once she left, I turned to the others, “Why would you even bring that up? You knew that would happen. If you’re concerned about my wellbeing, you wait until she leaves to ask.” That should have been the rule from then on.
This legendary tale from the teacher’s lounge is a true story. The names have been omitted to protect the innocent. More importantly, the names have been omitted to protect the obnoxious. Oh, by the way, if you don’t know someone at work that annoys the crap out of you, there’s a good chance that you are that person for someone else.