Human Resources News & Insights

13 most annoying people to work with

Which type of employees drive their co-workers to complain to you? Maybe you’ll recognize one of your employees on this list.

In their new book, Everyday Practices of Extraordinary Consultants, Christine Lambden and Casey Connor have compiled a list of “The 13 Most Annoying People to Work With.”

  1. Pontification Person – These people go on and on, telling you what they’re going to say, saying it and then telling you what they said.
  2. Um Person – To avoid losing control of the conversation, this co-worker fills every pause with “Um,” not realizing that she might be able to think better if she weren’t talking.
  3. Too Much Detail Person – ‘Nuff said.
  4. 50,000 Foot Only Person – He is eloquent when you talk about the big picture, but refuses to allow anyone to get into the details, which we all know is where the real work gets done. Unless someone is the CEO of a multi-national corporation, the employee has to be willing to work at any altitude.
  5. Hypnotized by E-mail Person – If you go to the trouble to think of a meeting topic, send out an invitation, invent an agenda and prepare slides, you naturally expect people who show up for your meeting to pay attention while you talk. Wireless technology has made it possible for people to multi-task very effectively, but there is nothing more defeating than presenting to the tops of the people’s heads because everyone at the conference table is hunched over his or her laptop.
  6. Buzzword Person – This employee is annoying in meetings, team rooms and in cubicles. In fact, this person is just plain annoying all the time.
  7. Foul Language Person – Much like Buzzword Person, this co-worker is obviously too lazy to think of the right words to express what he is thinking, if indeed he is thinking at all. But this person isn’t trying to impress you with his knowledge. He isn’t trying to impress you at all. He doesn’t care what you think of him.
  8. Reiteration Person – If the only contribution an employee has to make at work is to restate what has already been said, she doesn’t have any contribution to make.
  9. Too Busy To Be Prompt Person – If an employee is always late to work or every meeting, there is something wrong with the way he manages his schedule or time. He should fix this behavior. It’s rude.
  10. Can’t Control the Meeting Person and her arch-nemesis Wants To Take Over the Meeting Person.
  11. Secondary Conversation People – These folks are more annoying if their conversation is less interesting than the meeting.
  12. Disagrees With Everything Person – This co-worker honestly believes he is just being practical, or serving as the Voice Of Reason, or playing Devil’s Advocate. This may be true sometimes, and even helpful occasionally, but when it becomes a habit, everyone else just tunes him out.
  13. Obscure Metaphor Person – This employee is as annoying as the fool in a troupe of Morris dancers. (See? Wasn’t that annoying?)

For more about this book, click here.

Do you have a story about an employee who would fit a description on this list? Do you have a type of annoying person to add to the list? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

Print Friendly

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest Human Resources news and insights delivered to your inbox.


  1. Can I just add one here? The “No one has it worse than me” person. No matter what you’ve done, they had it harder than you.
    “You know years ago, we had to do those calculations by hand – it took all day”
    “Yeah, I was sick yesterday, too. But the doctor said what I had resembles bacterial menengitis”
    “I wasn’t late even though the snow plows completely covered up our house.”
    “The IT department didn’t give me the upgrade – I had to rewire the computer myself”

    I can’t stand this person outside of work either.
    “You think that’s bad, I had to wait four weeks for the cable guy to come hook us up”
    “That’s nothing, I had to pay $300 to fill my truck up with gas”

    and on and on and on…………

  2. What I really appreciate (not) is the type of person that can’t handle opposing ideas or opinions if it is different than their own. If you and 50 co-workers say one thing (even when it is supported by fact, common sense or in the HR business, law), this individual refuses to acknowledge any idea that A) he or she didn’t think up on their own or 2) is in conflict with what they already said. This becomes especially problematic when this type of employee is in management and their decisions directly impact the organization. Bad ideas, bad opinions and subsequently, bad actions can bring down the most prosperous of companies. You can’t tell this ‘Know It All’ anything and they will proudly tell you that they haven’t heard a good idea in years, because ’employees aren’t what they used to be.’ You can also spot this type of person a mile away, because they fire everyone they can and as a boss, they have constant turnover rate. This type of individual is toxic and many companies have at least one. Generally, most eventually find the door. In the worst case scenerio, they become the CEO or CFO of a company, –and literally God help the employees make it through a tough economy with one of these at the helm! An Industrial Psychologist once said to me that this type of personality is connected with severe mood disorders…maybe HR should offer them FMLA.

  3. Is there a list of 13 most annoying line managers to work with? Here’s my suggestion:

    1. “I’m looking out for number 1” Manager – namely himself/herself. No interest in personal development of employees, succession planning, etc.

    2. “Big Picture only” Manager – acting like the CEO except he/she is only a lowly middle manager.

    3. “Love sound of own voice” Manager – called a team meeting for group “discussion” only to hear him/her talk the entire meeting. Another sign is if all or most agenda items have the manager’s name next to it.

    4. “Racist or politically incorrect” Manager – ‘Nuff said.

    5. “Motivational speech” Manager – motivate employees by putting them down and telling them to follow his/her great example of “high” performance.

    6. “Generation gap” Manager – When I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles to work in freezing cold and bare feet and still turned up to work at 7am in the morning…your generation is too weak

    7. “Do nothing” Manager – take credit for your work and pass on all the blame.

    8. CYA Manager – by using you as the “fall guy” or “scapegoat” and not stand up for your ideas

    9. Twisted Feedback Manager – Using your personal 1-1 coaching feedback as “twisted evidence” of poor performance in annual review or sharing it with the rest of the employees.

    10. Needy Manager – How do you think I’m doing? Am I a great person or what?

    11. Change Manager – yes, change is good for you lowly employees in re-organisation while I stay status quo and keep my job thank you very much.

    12. No strategy Manager – no idea where the business should be going but keep insisting employees to do more. More of what!?

    13. “Can’t pin me down” Manager – really? I never said that. You must have misheard, your hair is
    covering your ears.

  4. Unfortunately, I recognized at least two of the above descriptions and they are management personnel! The 50,000 foot only person and the Foul language person. How do these people get into their position, I don’t know, but I sure wish someone would give them a clue.

    I’d like to add to the above list: The sarcastic manager. This is a manager who uses sarcasm or talks down to you whenever he disagrees with you. Usually people don’t work for him for very long…

  5. What I find annoying is the “Refuse to Change Person”. I dealt with that person when updating our software a few years ago. What was even more annoying is when her boss noticed it also and said that he “almost said something”. Which brings us to “Managers Who Are Afraid of Their Employees.”

  6. Here’s one I can add to the list – the one I like to call Shaggy (wasn’t me!). This is an employee who will bold face lie about something they did wrong, but would turn it around to blame you because of the way you are perceiving it. I’m come across 2 people like that in my career – one a former boss and the other a fellow co-worker.

  7. What is particularly burdensome is omeone who burdens you with all of their emotional baggage so they can 1) free themselves from it and 2) know that everyone really understands just how hard they have it.

  8. Mike Kromer says:

    I’m a big fan of the “I know you’re writing me up to help me in the future but I’ll act as defensive as possible during this office visit” person. These employees never accept wrongdoing, and then do the same thing again, normally leading to termination eventually. Then, of course, it’s the company’s fault because “I did what I was supposed to do and they fired me for it.”

  9. I have two to introduce. The first one is the TMI (too much information). For example, a supervisor was relaying a conversation he had with another supervisor. Not only did he note that the conversation took place in the men’s room, but for reasons unbeknownst to most civilized people, he felt compelled to elaborate on what each of them was doing. The second one is The Huidini. He/She is the one who disappears at the very height of a problem, and then suddenly reappears when it’s time to take the credit!!!

  10. Here’s one – the son of the owner who is learning the business – and on the internet all day planning golf vacations fom himself and friends.

  11. Have to Get In the Last Word Person just won’t shut up or stop arguing!

  12. HR Coordinator says:

    Wow! I work directly with a person who has 2 of those traits! How about the “I’m never wrong person”, we have one of those!

  13. I find the Can’t Read ANything person annoying. This person constantly asks you for information that they have right in front of them if they would just read whatever they are asking you a question about (in my business an email, a catalog or a price quote). Then sometimes they will go even further and argue with you that the information is not there and continue arguing with you until you get up and show them where it is. I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to try to find the answers for themselves!

  14. HR in Ohio says:

    Regina – you just gave me the new name for my boss! Thank you!!

  15. How about the person who over analyzes the simplest task?! “Colored thumb tacks or clear?” “This size label, or that size?” I just want to shout who cares!!!

    Or the person who passes the buck?! They are always fun to work with ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. I love the Houdini one. That’s my boss now. He gets all the credit, bonuses, raises. He never stands up for his ees and we only get the credit if we bypass him and blow our own horn. (The owners of course have to check w/ Mr. Houdini to see if we’re telling the truth…another issue). I also love the “Know it all” boss that Jack-of-all-Trades talked about. This person is so toxic they can kill the passion of their underlings. I had the misfortune to work with one of these as well. I’ll take “Houdini” over “Know it all” any day!

  17. Pat, do we work at the same place? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Reading these comments makes me wonder which one of these I am. Or……….are those of us that contributed on this blog the ones really runnin the joint?

  19. I think I qualify for at least 4 of those….
    Very good topic for a Friday ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I get to work with a racist, a suck-up, a know-it-all, and a greedy Scrooge. But I work with some great people too. I thank God I have a job. I just wish my prayers would get through about the annoyers.

  21. Dear Patricia,

    I’m trying to build your character.




  22. Have patience Pat – that day will come.

  23. Brian…

    And that you are!! We’re not allowed to download emoticons so : >) this have to do.

  24. MaryKate says:

    We have an Eeyore where I work. “We’re never gonna maaaake it.” She’s always complaining that she doesn’t have enough time, energy, materials, tools, etc., to do anything asked of her, and it’s always an inconvenience. Oddly, she’s a really good performer who always gets the job done, so we keep her around.

    Eeyore’s like that – really gloomy, but still has a place on the team.

    Now you’re all going to start thinking of your co-workers as Pooh characters, aren’t you?

  25. How ’bout Stinky Smoker? I don’t care if she smokes. I just hate having to sit next to her after she comes back from one of her MANY smoke breaks. Whew!

  26. How about Micro Manager and General All Purpose Witch? I was the only employee of a sole-practice attorney who shared space in her home office with her husband, who was not an attorney. She would only allow me to ask questions about my work at two specifically scheduled times each day, otherwise I wasn’t being “cost-effective”. In between, however, she critiqued the size of envelopes I used for different mailings, asked why I used certain denominations of postage stamps, sent me to the post office to buy “prettier” stamps, re-routed my computer files, and complained that I wasn’t getting any work done… She was also acting as her own contractor for the new house/home office she was having built, and spent hours each day on the internet and on the phone with sub-contractors. On top of it, she tracked her teenage daughters’ whereabouts with GPS installed in their cars, and she and her husband constantly bickered about whose stuff was overflowing into whose space. What a nightmare. I quit after six weeks, and have wondered ever since why I stayed so bloody long.

  27. To Marykate:

    It really sounds like Eeyore has taken a class in Kaizen and understands the need for incremental continuous improvement (which includes requesting for resources to do the job). Maybe your organization could benefit from: 1) Kaizen training and 2) Eliminating barriers and the CAN’T excuses from the workplace Training.

  28. The “back-stabber” is high on my list of annoying people to work with. They always smile to your face, but they are diligently working behind the scene to twist everything that happens in the organization to make it look like: 1. They are perfect; and 2. They never make a mistake; so 3. Whatever goes wrong is always another person’s fault. They will blame / back-stab anyone who can’t prove them wrong. And because most of us are just trying to do a good job and make a positive contribution, we aren’t trying to protect ourselves from an attack from someone who is supposed to be part of the same team.