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We all have them … pet peeves. These little habits that most people tend to find annoying, intolerable or obnoxious. Many of us are usually quick to point out our pet peeves when it comes to others. However, are you aware of the things that you do, that may make others not want to spend time with you? When it comes to being inside the staffroom, dealing with pet peeves can be quite more challenging, given that you spend the majority of your day at work and in the presence of your colleagues.

Here are a few common pet peeves that people have and how they can be addressed diplomatically.

Foot Tapping: Foot tapping is a common pet peeve that the offender is usually not very conscious of. Some people tap one foot constantly when they are in deep thought or if they are nervous. If this is a pet peeve of yours, gently suggest to the person doing the tapping that it is distracting. You can also excuse yourself from where they are by going for a walk.

Obnoxiously loud laughter: There are times when a good joke will make you laugh out loud. Laughing out loudly can be distracting to others. It is frowned upon in public because it is considered to be impolite to do so. Culturally in the UAE, ladies are encouraged not to laugh out loudly in public. Laughing out loud is definitely not appropriate in a work environment. If you have a colleague who is guilty of this, take that person some place quiet and tell them about it. If he/she continues with the behaviour, distance yourself.

Staring in silence: Have you ever felt like someone was staring at you from behind, then you turn around just to catch them staring and the person says nothing, forcing you to react? Your reaction may be to say something to the person, look away quickly or use body language to show your discomfort. Staring at someone without speaking to that person can definitely cause tension in the staffroom. If you are caught staring, in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation, just apologise for staring or offer up a compliment!

The interrupter: There is usually one person who is very good at constantly interrupting others when they are having a conversation. While some persons will refrain from pointing this out, others find constant interruption to be annoying. Someone who constantly interrupts clearly isn’t listening to the other person and is showing disinterest in what the other person is saying. If you are guilty of constantly interrupting, to avoid being snapped at, practise listening more and talking less. If you must interrupt, please ask permission of the speaker.

Open Mouth Chewers: It could be chewing gum and it could be actual food. There are a handful of people who forget to close their mouths while chewing or to complete chewing before continuing a conversation. Open mouth chewers unwittingly cause those around them to see what’s inside their mouths. This also puts those within close proximity at risk for particles of food flying at them, when the chewer is speaking. Solution: walk away briskly from an open mouth chewer or wait until the person has completed his/her meal before you start a conversation.

The Complainer: “The complainer” is usually a colleague who always has some negative comments to share about any and everything on a daily basis. Some people will distance themselves from a colleague who constantly complains. However, it helps to guide this kind of person by rebutting each complaint with a positive. After a while, this colleague will either stop complaining to you or start to appreciate more of the good things in life.

The Borrower: This pet peeve is specifically for those who like to borrow but never return what was borrowed. A normal reaction would be to point out to the borrower that the last loan is still unpaid/unreturned. It may be easier to simply say no to the person who never returns what is borrowed or what he/ she owes.

Personal Space Violation: A violation of one’s personal space would include hovering over someone’s shoulder at their desk, standing very closely so you can feel their breath on your face and sitting on their desk while the other person is trying to get work done. If a colleague is constantly invading your personal space, to avert confrontation, smile, step back (if you are standing) and politely ask your colleague to allow you a bit of space/privacy. You can also excuse yourself from the situation/ space until he/she gets the message.

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