After Hours

10 resolutions for reducing annoying behavior in 2012

Have you come up with some self-improvement goals for the coming year? Here are a few tongue-in-cheek resolutions you may want to add to the list.

Jan 4, 2012: Dear diary, it is the end of another year and the beginning of a new one. This year I have the privilege of selecting 10 resolutions for IT-types like me at TechRepublic. I have based the resolutions on things people do at work that I find annoying. I hope that these annoyances will bring a smile to my friends at TR -- at least for those who can relate to them.

1: I will never, ever put down my peers

I am amazed and then more than a little disgusted when someone I work with complains about a fellow IT professional. It seems to occur more often when lips get loose over a few beers, hopefully away from work. The party game is to discuss the personal shortcomings or perceived lack of value to the group of everyone from the manager down to the latest hire. This may be a backhanded way to raise the stature of those present, but don't kid yourself. What are they saying about you behind your back? The message is simple: Don't belittle my friends and co-workers at or away from work.

2: I will not monopolize meetings or conference calls

It may seem insensitive to you, but we really don't want to hear a journalistic report of your problems, gripes, and triumphant accomplishments during the group meeting or conference call. We just want to get back to work. Before you "contribute" to the group discussion, ask yourself if your words will add any value to the conversation.

3: I promise not to grumble about the paperwork

I have seen paperwork that ran the gamut from nothing to full-blown planning and tracking. If you work on a project that requires the latter, get as efficient as you can as soon as you can. It won't help to grumble about it. If you must, do it so I can't hear you. I have my own paperwork to grumble about.

4: I won't be an IM pest

It's bad enough when you have to spend the better part of an hour or more each day reading and answering emails. But the fact that you have to constantly suffer messages blooping onto your computer screen is annoying to say the least. Communication with your peers is important. Just please don't communicate the latest attire of the office babe, bemoan the latest request from the boss, or give a play-by-play of the stupid things said during a conference call.

5: I will not push other people's buttons

We all know someone who has taken the art of annoying others to new levels by bringing up those issues that will elicit a strong response. When we toy with tickling the dragon's tail, we may get burned. And so it goes with those we intentionally torment.

6: I will not refuse to help others this year

It sounds good, right? Not so fast. How do you help someone write better documentation? The best way I know is to critique their work and help point them in the right direction. Try that, though, and you will be known as evil incarnate for criticizing their wonderful work. How do you help someone solve a simple coding problem? One of the junior members of our team wanted to learn VB. Okay, wonderful. I always seemed to get these questions when busy -- and when aren't you busy at work? I just didn't know how to teach someone "how to do it," so I always ended up writing the code and telling Junior where to put it. I'm not sure how helpful I was, but at least I tried to not be that annoying breed of programmer who refuses to help others.

7: I promise not to badmouth Microsoft

Take me to lunch and you can complain all you want about Microsoft's products, services, or vision. Do it when I'm trying to write code and I'm gonna get angry. We can all find things to vent about -- perhaps the most annoying of all being Vista's UAC. Really though, I've heard enough complaints about Vista to last a lifetime. Microsoft bashing gets really old really quick.

8: I will not extol the virtues of Linux

For some mysterious reason, a few penguin-lovers treat their OS as if it were a religion, evangelizing its virtues. It's not. TechRepublic is the perfect place to let others know about your conversion from Windows to Linux -- not on the job.

9: I will not bring the cheap stuff

It really used to annoy me when someone brought the inexpensive sugary donuts on Friday. The last thing I needed at 8 AM was a meal of fat and sugar. For goodness sake, bring a few bran muffins for the health conscious and old farts among us. And then there were the potlucks dinners. We once had a potluck and I vowed to bring fried chicken. It's a good thing, too. There were all kinds of soda -- without the ice -- various chips, and a lot of meatless, unappetizing side dishes. It wasn't a potluck -- it was a party! People, some of us carnivores need meat to function at peak performance. Man does not live on snacks alone.

10: I will put off that big project again this year

It's always annoying when you get to the end of the year and realize that your resolution to learn a new programming language, build that new computer, or increase your Linux command-line competence has once more been quietly overlooked. This year, just admit up front that you will, once again, find a way to put off that big project.

Peace

Well diary, that's it. I have noticed that we are often annoying to others but no one tells us. Sadly, our silly little quirks of behavior and trivial misdeeds can lead to trouble, even serious personnel issues. "Why can't we all just get along?" you ask. I am not that naïve, but a little tolerance would be nice.

As you know, diary, I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions. They are always forgotten by spring. The best of intentions mean nothing more than destructive guilt when December rolls around and I realize my failures of the past year. So this year, when March pops up on the calendar and I have forgotten all my resolutions, perhaps I will at least be able to remember this one: Please let us all be a little less annoying to those we work with. It won't bring about world peace but it might bring some peace to the workplace.

About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

13 comments
jayohem
jayohem

I won't show videos of scary film clips to an unsuspecting audience (tick, tick, tick,...) Fruitcake is the descendent of what was known as great cake in Shakespeare's time. It also is the traditional wedding cake. It went out of favor and was replaced with the tarted up birthday cake we associate with the bride upon the introduction of the home deep freezer in the mid 1950's. It left the culture about the same time the luxury liner did Really good fruitcake is really good; even better is Jamaican Black Cake, but you can't serve that for breakfast unless you want the crew to go down for a morning nap. If you have a microwave in the office, you can bake your own muffins in a mug with or without raisins 'n' nuts or whatever you like in your muffin. Here's a link to a microwave muesli muffin in a mug, which shsuit the techie, geekie gourmet's taste. http://www.mueslilover.com/2010/11/recipe-apple-or-rhubarb-muffin-in-mug.html :-)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm good to go on seven out of ten, assuming we transpose #7 and #8: I promise not to badmouth Linux I will not extol the virtues of Microsoft :D

steve.hammill
steve.hammill

Some of us old farts wouldn't eat a bran muffin if our life depended on it. Hell! I ate one of those terrible thing in 1978. I found it in my kitchen cabinet the other day and even mold wouldn't eat it. Make mine fruitcake! ;) Happy New Year

gileado
gileado

thank you so much sir for the list. its timeless!

sissy sue
sissy sue

You came up with resolutions that were right on target. My particular favorite is #2. I hate meetings as it is, and the last thing I want is a person who has to offer commentary to everything the facilitator says. Usually, the real intent of the commentator is to toot his own horn so that everyone in the meeting can see what a hotshot he is. Let's stick to the agenda, come up with some solutions, and then close so everyone can get back to doing something productive.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

What annoys you at work? Feel free to add your resolution to the list. 2. I will not monopolize meetings or conference calls - My day always started with two conference calls. By the time the calls were done, a big chunk of my work day was gone. I led one of the conference calls. Had I to do it all over again I would keep the conference call short and sweet. More than half of the time we spent on the phone was wasted with trivialities. 3. I promise not to grumble about the paperwork - If ever there was a legitimate reason to grumble about paperwork it was the daily status updates that we had to provide. Maybe I could have used the time preparing the updates to reflect on my work-day. It provided nothing helpful to my job at hand. 5. I will not push other people's buttons. You know the buttons I am talking about, politics, religion or who is going to win American Idol - whatever issue raises the blood pressure of the intended victim. 6. I will not refuse to help others this year - How is helping others annoying? It isn't. What is annoying is the person you ask to help you and puts you off. There is always urinal-time, but please don't talk to me there. I can only do one thing at a time. And that is definitely out if Junior is of the alternate sex. (I'm really sinking low here - bathroom humor!) 7. I promise not to badmouth Microsoft - Just for the record, I like Vista. It's really annoying though to hear the same person vent the same broken-record complaints while at work. 9. I will not bring the cheap stuff - I admit to eating the sugary donuts and paying the price with a lousy sugar high and sugar crash. 10. I will put off that project again this year - Who knows? Maybe a little reverse psychology will work. As always, I will be popping in occasionally to answer any questions and add to the discussion when I have something intelligent to say.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

It is cartoon violence, perhaps given away by the cartoonish looking aliens with toy guns who run around saying Ak Ak! or Ack Ack! - I'm not sure that it has been properly translated from the Martian. IMDb calls if "fantasy violence" - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116996/. How can you not like a scene where Jack Nicholson is killed by a robotic hand that breaks off, climbs all over him, kills him and then sends up a Martian flag of triumph? Classic stuff. But everyone has their own definition of "annoy" and I accept yours. Muffin in a mug. What a clever idea. Thanks for the link and the history of fruitcake.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

...is quite acceptable. By the way, I commonly see the word "fanboi" used to describe someone who is blindly loyal to Microsoft. Anyone who takes a perfectly good English word and intentionally misspells it just to be "cool" is also quite annoying.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Happy New Year Steve! I chose the other end of the spectrum on purpose. But yes, a warm blueberry muffin with real butter is much preferred to bran muffins. I always thought fruitcakes would make good door stops. ;-)

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

The informality and lack of the bosses angry body language means that participants think they can talk on and on. When you get a chance to list the top ten annoyances of your career, you have to make the most of it. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. ;-) Actually, I had a lot of fun with it. Thanks for the comment and kind word.

lysagdsl
lysagdsl

I will only sparingly, if at all, use the format "n things that are loosely related to something current".

DT2
DT2

Funny - I always thought a fanboi was an Apple deviate. "Deviate", is that the right word. Oh yeah, I meant devotee. Oops! I did it again. ;-) Actually, I own at least two of most of their iStuff (iPod, iPad, iPhone) Actually, #7 and #8 should be worded generically. I promise not to badmouth XYZ OS/Corporation I will not extol the virtues of XYZ OS/Corporation