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9 Valid Reasons for Killing a Coworker

Chalk Outline of Body in Conference RoomSometimes homicide is justified.  Sometimes a coworker deserves to have a file cabinet dropped on their head.  Usually it’s some of the behaviors listed below that drive rational men and women into murderous rages.

First of all – everyone relax.  I am NOT advocating workplace violence and I am writing with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  Don’t hurt anyone at your office but do give them feedback and help make these behaviors go away.  And if you have trouble thinking of anyone at the office who is annoying enough to kill, check the mirror – your coworkers might be considering doing you in.

Second – I’m not perfect.  Far from it.  I’ve been guilty of many of these behaviors (and many more that aren’t on this list).  It’s probably a good thing I work from home these days because my dogs don’t know any better how lousy a coworker I can be.

So with those disclaimers made, allow me to share nine of the absolute worst, most egregiously despicable office behaviors anyone can demonstrate.  Please be sure to share this list with your coworkers so they too can be on the lookout for these bad behaviors and know how to deal with them appropriately.  For those of you who are also bosses, you might want to also read 10 Reasons Your Team Hates You (But They Just Won’t Say it to Your Face) for further illumination.  Here’s the naughty nine:

1. Loud Talking. Dude – shut up.  We work in a half-height cubicle open workspace.  None of us want to hear you BS’ing with a supplier about your golf game or complaining to the guy four desks away about how annoying people in the office can be.  When your mouth opens, we all cringe knowing our work is about to be interrupted for ten minutes of your boorish blathering.  The fix: grab a conference room or an unused office to have your conversations or step outside for your chit chat on your cellie with your broker.

2. Gossip.  You don’t work at a junior high school (unless of course you actually work at a junior high school).  Gossip is poison and you’re the purveyor of it.  Stop talking about other people, mergers, layoffs, or any other office juice.  It’s rude and it’s a distraction.  The fix: listen to what Run DMC advises in this post. Click here to read it.

3. Selling Out.  You’re the first one to abandon your position and cave as soon as some higher-up recommends going in a different direction.  Find a spine.  You talk a big game when the bigwigs aren’t around and the scary thing is, sometimes you have good ideas and recommendations.  But if you cave in and don’t speak your mind, no one respects you and the business never improves.  The fix: make clear, well articulated recommendations and know when you should fall on your sword.

4. Butt Kissing.  Nobody likes a sycophant especially one who goes in the direction of the prevailing winds (which are usually simply the flatulence of the highest-ranking person in the room).  When you kiss up, everyone knows it (including the person whose butt is being kissed).  The days of getting promoted by sucking up are (almost) dead.  Stop.  The fix: Focus on your own performance and when you need to get the boss to agree to something, instead of kissing butt, just make a clear and compelling recommendation instead.

5. Playing “Look how smart I am!”  You know that guy in the meeting who asks a question he already knows the answer to and he’s only asking it to demonstrate his smartitude?  Yeah, if that’s you I’m betting someone is going to throw an overhead projector at your head one day (one of those heavy, old school ones that required transparencies).  Everyone hates a know-it-all especially one who’s jockeying for favor with the boss.  The fix: get comfortable with asking the right questions instead of having all the answers.  Don’t be afraid of not knowing the answer yourself – just take satisfaction in asking the question to advance the conversation.

6. Nasty Habits. Grooming, old food in the fridge, nail clippings on your office floor, dirt under your fingernails, halitosis.  All that nacky stuff.  Ew.  Gross.  Nobody wants you around because they all fear catching Ebola from you.  Your coworkers are plotting to kill you by calling you in to the CDC as a bio-hazard threat that needs to be nuked.  Even if you’re not that nasty, you’re demonstrating some seriously bad behavior that keeps you out of the executive ranksThe fix: get some manners and take a course on executive presence.

7. Lazy, Sloppy Work.  Your coworkers depend on you to hold up your end of the workload.  When your work is late or filled with mistakes, we have to pick up the slack (translation: stay late and do your job for you).  You get paid to do work.  Do it.  We’re sick of covering for you.  The fix: get feedback from your colleagues on the quality of your work and see where you need to focus and improve.  Ask for help if you’re not sure how to do something so you can get better at it and need fewer bailouts (there are enough of those happening on Wall Street already).

8. Inefficiency.  You make meetings drag on by asking that last question that doesn’t need to be asked (see #5 above).  You cc everyone on emails and reply all tooThe fix: You should learn why it’s a good idea to occasionally shut your cake hole.  When you’re quiet, you can learn more and keep the conversation moving.  Also learn a little email etiquette along the way too.

9. Taking Undue Credit.  Stealing credit for someone’s work is about as low as you can go.  It works for a short period of time until you cross the wrong person and they call you out for it.  And they will.  I’ve taught them how to do so (CLICK HERE to see how).  The fix: Do your job well (see #7 above) and the credit will flow.  You’re good at what you do.  Demonstrate it.  Don’t take shortcuts.  Work hard and it’ll all work out for you.

Look, I don’t want to see office violence (or even dreams and fantasies of it) befall anyone but if you keep up the bad behaviors above, they just might be drawing a white chalk outline of you on your cubicle floor.  And again – I AM NOT ADVOCATING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PEOPLE!  This is a sarcastic blog post.  I hate the fact that I even have to point that out but if I don’t some clown will go into the office with a ball peen hammer tomorrow and crush a skull with it.

Let’s make our workplaces more civilized.  Look at the above nine behaviors and ask yourself honestly if you demonstrate any of them.  If you do, fix it.  If you know a coworker who does, provide the feedback and help them fix it too (or just forward this post to them or print it off and leave it on their chair anonymously if you feel like being a passive aggressive coward).  Go make the workplace a better place to, well… work.

- Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC
- Grab a presale copy of my upcoming book One Piece of Paper. CLICK HERE to get yours!

13 Responses to “9 Valid Reasons for Killing a Coworker”

  1. Mike: this is hysterical. And every single reason you listed is a valid reason. I will say that above all, #1 can drive me to murderous thoughts. In particular if that conversation happens on speaker phone.

    I once worked in an office with a similar cubicle environment to the one you described, where one girl in sales insisted on taking her calls on speaker phone! WTF. My staff sat in the cubes around her, and complained daily. Surprisingly it took multiple plea-filled conversations to get her to start picking up the handset. I think she thought others could learn from her conversations. ugh. She’s lucky she didn’t end up inside the chalk outline.

    • Rae says:

      Did you ever think about investing in some good earplugs. When things get noisy and I can’t concentrate, I put good earplugs in and continue with what I am doing.

  2. Gina says:

    This article is awesome — if you could follow up on how to deal with a person like you describe when that person is YOUR BOSS that would be invaluable to me.

    Thanks!!

  3. [...] Waarom hebben werknemers soms de neiging om een van hun collega’s van kant te maken? Mike Figliuolo van ThoughtLeaders vond 9 redenen, al wil hij niemand tot moorddadig gedrag aanmoedigen, heeft de titel van dit artikel uiteraard een [...]

    • Mike Figliuolo says:

      I love when this blog gets translated. I always wonder how they translate some of the words I make up though…

      • victoria says:

        Thank you for understanding the need to vent about some of the awfulness a coworker can put you through! I really try to get along with everyone, but there is a new assistant manager at my hotel that transcends every definition of “evil coworker” ever harbored in my mind. He is a pathological liar, and a “pass the buck-er”. Let’s just say that I am sales, and is he execution…he has personally fouled up so many events and actually told clients that it was my fault – “i wasn’t told that the number of people changed” – “she didn’t send me an email with those changes” – or “i never got that email”… which you can only use so many times (save all your emails & get receipts when dealing with a nasty one) before everyone realizes what’s what. That is when the OTHER excuses for poor performance start. “my wife cheated on me & i am leaving her” – “she tried to kidnap the baby & threatened to kill herself” – “i am having heart problems & had to go to ER”. Which are really serious, when true. Wish me luck dealing with this ass!

  4. Vickt says:

    I’m so amazed you missed the opportunity to have a pic of Christian Bale and Jared Leto from American Psycho ….

  5. [...] [priv] 9 Valid Reasons for Killing a Coworker – [...]

    • Tom says:

      2a. The Conversation Stealer. Not gossip, but thinks that every conversation within earshot is open to everyone and hijacks it, making it impossible to converse with anyone in the office.

      You: “How was your flight?”
      Coworker #1: “Getting through security was a pain, but OK otherwise.”
      Coworker #2: “I remember this flight I took 5 years ago…”…(10 minutes nonstop of every flight she’s ever taken, where she went, and what she did when she was there)

  6. [...] mockumentary parallel for one of the real-life world world’s most aggravating characters: the butt-kisser. But he’s just one in a long, fabled line of cubicle characters that incite, aggravate, and [...]

  7. The primary rule here is to NOT GET CAUGHT! Finding a final resting place for your coworker that doesn’t involve him being found by anyone is crucial. Body found? Lots of leading questions by the local police. Body NOT found? It’s all good, bro! Remenber to use you head!

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