It would be great if everyone in the office could be friends — or at least tolerate one another.
However, in some work environments, that’s just never going to happen. Maybe your company has a toxic company culture. Maybe one rotten egg is just spoiling the carton for everyone else.
Either way, it’s pretty terrible to have to deal with nightmare colleagues.
Earlier this week, Business Insider asked readers to share stories of their most awful, inconsiderate coworkers.
Here are nine horror stories. Hopefully they will make you feel better about your occasionally loud but largely innocuous cubicle mate:
Some answers have been edited for clarity.
'I was 28 years old and my coworker was 30. She constantly talked down to me and made statements like, 'Well, when I was your age...' or 'It's different when you're 30...'
But some of her worst offenses fall in the category of absolute sabotage. She'd withhold specific information or new stats from me, so that when I'd report out a current status in an all-staff meeting, I'd not only give an incorrect number, but she'd interrupt me and say, 'No, no. It's not 34, it's 38!' And I'd have no idea how she got 38 until after the meeting.
After hours, she would tamper with my spreadsheets and erase the work that I'd done. Then the next morning, before I even arrived, she'd be in our boss's office complaining that I wasn't doing my work.
In the end, I found a new job and they fired her. I hope she's getting the mental treatment she so desperately needs.' -- Anonymous
'This coworker sits next to me at the office. He eats fast food at least one or two times a day, every single day.
He refuses to eat his food anywhere but his desk and will shovel ten fries at a time into his mouth and chomp on them incessantly. He makes as much noise as possible with the wrappers and slurps his extra large drink like someone is about to steal it from him.
Worst of all, when the drink is clearly gone, he will suck harder and make the loud whistling and gargling sound of a drink that is no more.
I've dealt with it for so long I can't stand the sight or smell of (fast food) anymore. My friends and I keep a daily tally every time he shows up with fast food -- last month, he racked up about 30 tallies.
And that's only what we saw for sure.' -- Cory, Houston, TX
'Three former coworkers and I were out to lunch. We were trying to make light, casual talk. It was always uncomfortable being around this very narcissistic, judgemental manager outside of the office.
One of my colleagues, who is a father of four, grossly underpaid, and overwhelmingly considered one of the kindest people in my office, turns to the manager and asks him if he ever listens to vinyl records.
My boss stops eating, made a face of disgust, and goes, 'Are you serious?'
Everyone looks around, clearly confused and taken aback by his clear anger towards the question.
The manager rolls his eyes and goes, 'Yea, dude. I have a $30,000 stereo.'
Needless to say, the rest of the lunch was filled with only the sounds of chewing.' -- Catherine, Washington, DC
'My coworker and I worked at a gym. She told members that the gym was closing, even though it wasn't.
So many people switched to new gyms before we knew what she was doing. The gym ended up closing because of her.' -- Erin, Delaware
'My coworker has the absolutely worst table manners. She is constantly eating at her desk. She chews as if she were a cow and, to make things worse, she talks with her mouth full in front of customers and while she's on the phone.
She chews so loudly, I can hear her even when my door is closed. Oh, she also is forever on the lookout to have someone pick-up her lunch or coffee or do whatever menial jobs she doesn't feel like doing. She is the office bully.' -- Anonymous
'After four years of college and many internships and co-ops, I was very excited to start my first job out of school with a great company. When I first met my work group, I thought everyone was an outstanding team member...
A few months into the job, I realised there was a problem. Everyone at my service center is racist and uses (racist terms).
This offends me. I have a black father (even though I'm white). My coworkers also talk very disrespectfully about all of our customers, often slamming their phones and cussing about them. The worst part is that my colleagues will be so kind to a customer on the phone, then hang up and call them the n-wrd and laugh.
I have to suppress my emotions about this because my general manager and service center manager know about this and do nothing.
I am the youngest at my location by three decades. It's not unusual that there are natural generational differences between my coworkers and I. But I thought people who are old enough to be my parents would be more professional and mature than this.' -- Anonymous
'As an introvert and an inexperienced newbie, starting at this one company was so challenging -- like getting thrown in the deep end of the pool as a first time swimmer.
I didn't enjoy the office small talk and I always tried to stay away from office politics and gossiping. This made some of my colleagues feel like I was too reserved. By avoiding office politics, I became a target.
My colleagues started gossiping about me behind my back. One in particular was the worst of the bunch.
She constantly told my boss all sorts of things, just to land me in trouble. Every day, I felt like it was going to be my last. I eventually had to meet with my boss to explain things.
Thankfully, my boss wasn't surprised at all. I had a feeling she had experienced or heard similar cases like mine before. In a company with a high turnover rate, it wasn't a surprise when I decided to call it quits five months down the line.
What I learned through my experience is that you should never be afraid to speak up when someone wrongs you. Approach them and get to the bottom line of things. Be open minded and try to avoid any arguments if possible. Also it's important to have close allies who can defend you when others try to throw you under the bus. I didn't have any and I paid the price for it.' -- James, Nairobi, Kenya
'This person was a supervisor (in title only) who would constantly 'gossip whisper' about other team members in the office.
She collected mistakes that others made, shared the mistakes with other gossipy team members who did not need to know, and worked to turn people against those she didn't like.
This person would make rude comments about those above and under her. She also complained and cursed out loud (four letter words that others nearby could easily hear) in her cubicle all day long. This wore down the team and made the days seem longer.
This person was also on personal calls most of the day, even at busy times. People in the office were forced to act like they liked her, even though she mostly annoyed, depressed, and divided the team through her terrible conduct.
No one above her in the chain of command had kept her in check through the years. They just accepted that her poor behaviour was 'just part of her personality' Many cooperated with her only because they feared her turning against them.
The company manager had heard complaints about her through the years, but just believed it was only due to personality conflicts. The company did not realise that the reason they could not keep any jobs under her filled filled due to the fact she was a horrible, disrespectful, non-managerial, less-than-supervisor.' -- Anonymous
'The worst coworker I ever had was an attention-seeking sociopath. We worked together in an operations trade support group at a well-known Wall Street firm.
The structure of the trading floor (long rows with monitors -- no divisions between workspaces) and the structure of the group (one email inbox, any request or issue could be handled by pretty much anyone in the group) made avoidance impossible.
And he sat directly next to me.
In the dog-eat-dog world of the finance industry, he did all you would expect of a nightmare colleague. He'd steal your work, try to take over a project you're already working on, do his best to poke holes in your proposals to senior colleagues, and spread false information about you.
The approach I had taken with problem colleagues up to this point in my career was to disengage and just do my work. Do it better than them. The problem with Mr. Sociopath is he was good at his job and he would target for destruction anyone he deemed as competition.
Management valued his skills, work ethic, and propensity to highlight the errors of others. He was excellent at Excel and his social interactions mirrored the same formulaic structure -- without any awareness of emotions or the awkwardness his behaviour would create.
With the structure of the trading floor not having clear delineations for personal space, such as a cubicle or office, he would constantly invade it -- and linger.
While we were working in the same group, my daughter was admitted to the hospital and I was out most of the week. When she started getting stronger and it was clear we would be taking her home in a few days, I returned to work to catch up on an important project. He asked me how things were going and made an unremarkable joke. I replied with a polite smile.
He said, 'I know she is better now because you smiled.' Not offensive, but a good example of his social and emotional thinking -- A+B = C.
In the two years I sat next to him, he never showed any empathy for any person, animal or object. Behind his small, dark, beady eyes was a sick individual. In confidence, I advised female colleagues not to find themselves alone with him at work or happy hour.
I never made a complaint about him to senior management or HR, which I regret. My approach at that time in my career was to put my head down and do my work. If I find myself with another colleague like him, I will be proactive in removing him or myself from the group.' -- Brendan, the Bronx, NY
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