Stories Of Poor Office Etiquette and Other Inappropriate Behavior

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Dinner wrapped up and I scanned the dining area. Milk was smeared across the table, crumbs littered the floor, and there was a spaghetti noodle stuck to the wall. Table manners aren’t the only problem. Whether it’s picking up toys, taking turns, or censoring comments about people that walk by, my children have a lot to learn. I understand now why children were sent to finishing school.

As I glared at the filthy after effects of dinner I noticed a striking resemblance to some work spaces I’ve shared. The following day I had 2 friends, working at different companies, lament about co-workers eating their lunch! We can all relate to the bad office etiquette of others. Heck, we’re all probably guilty of practicing bad habits at one time or another. Here are a few stories shared by friends and colleagues.


“I have a co-worker who takes my banana out of my lunch everyday, and eats it. Everyday.”

“I was cooking food in the microwave. When I returned to check on the food mid-cook, I found that someone took my food out of the microwave while it was still cooking.”

“I used to work with a guy that would spill protein drinks all over his desk and then let the cups sit out until they started to grow mold.”

“There’s a guy here who will “clean” the table in our kitchen if he sees anything on it, which is great if he’s just sweeping off crumbs, but sometimes something is stuck on the table so he’ll lick his finger and rub it to get it to go away.”

Personal Hygiene

“I work across from someone who clips their nails at their desk. Nail clippings are left on the floor and desk.”

“I watch as people walk the hallways flossing their teeth. Take it to the restroom.”

Noise Control

“I used to work with a guy who refused to wear headphones and played music all day.”

“There’s a manager in our office who ALWAYS uses the speaker phone. Even when conducting confidential calls, he still uses the speaker phone.”

Work Attire

“I have a colleague who wears crocs and pajama pants every day to work. She has a “professional” top on most of the time and matches colors to the pajama pants and crocs.”

Potpourri of Inappropriate Behavior

“There’s a guy who would always walk across the room to see who was calling when my coworker’s phone rang when she wasn’t around and if he didn’t get there in time he would click through to her missed calls to see who it was.”

“A family member’s old boss got wasted one night at a client dinner at a fancy restaurant and ended up throwing up all over his plate before the meal was served. The wait staff came and picked it up along with everything that had been splattered, and replaced it with a fresh place setting while the boss just continued with the meeting like nothing had happened.”

“Senior staff would fall asleep during important meetings. Meetings they had typically requested. You would be in front of the senior team presenting budget numbers and strategy and they would be asleep.”

“I have someone in my office that cannot stop fidgeting. She is constantly bouncing bouncy balls, clicking pens, tapping fingernails. The worst are these little metal magnetic balls – smaller than a BB. She throws them at her metal cabinet to see if they’ll stick. She has about 50 of these things so it makes for a long day.”

“We had a sales trainee sit through a week’s worth of training and constantly play with play dough. She would take notes sometimes, but always had the play dough out.”

The takeaway from this post is simply, be mindful of how your behavior affects those around you, and represents the company you work for.

What other funny office etiquette stories would you share?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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