in Observations, programming

some top tips to piss off your colleagues

Every day you stumble into work and go about your daily routine.   You’re reasonably sure that you’re a model work colleague and everyone likes you.  But this is pretty boring right?  So from this day forward you decide to make other people’s life a misery.  Here are a few handy tips guaranteed to help you with this.

(A short note: in case confusion ensues the tone of this article is meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek! And please let me know of any annoyances that I may have missed in the comments 🙂 )

  1. Constantly receive incoming phone calls: to be honest it doesn’t even have to be constant, just enough to make it appear constant to those sitting around you. I have no real problems with people talking around me or even playing music out loud (as long as it’s not all the time), but the torture of constantly hearing a one-sided conversation is exasperating.  For maximum effect, I suggest you have a really bad ringtone, and make outgoing calls with regular frequency as well. 
  2. Take that chicken curry back to your desk so everyone can smell it at lunchtime: I can’t work out whether this is the thing that annoys me most. There is nothing worse than sitting down to do some work and some dude slaps his lunch down on the table 2 feet away. OK, eating certain things at your desk is fine, but there are others that should just be outright banned, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out if you are eating one of those things. Or maybe it does! My suggestion to obtain the maximum effect with this one is to leave it sitting on your desk for a bit to “cool down” prior to eating it.
  3. Constantly ask people the same questions (or make the same mistakes): I know this one affects more than just me – I will elaborate. Imagine sitting next to someone who constantly asks you the same questions about how to do something. OK, at first they were new and you answered with glee, but it’s been two years since this person started in the job and they still ask you how to the most simple tasks (like how do you build the software). Not only that but when you tell them they always experience a problem, the same problem, and ask you why it’s not working. This is guaranteed to make people start muttering under your breath at you as soon as their name leaves your mouth. Note: This works best if you don’t say their name too loud at first and just lightly let it drift off your lips. This will give the “pink panther effect” where they will gradually think they are going insane.  Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
  4. Find out the names of new buzz technologies, then constantly suggest the inclusion of such things in your app, especially if they are not relevant: remember you don’t need to know what the new technology does or the advantages/disadvantages of it – in fact it’s better that you don’t understand what they are, this heightens the effect. For example, say you want to use AJAX in your legacy desktop COBOL application. To make this even more powerful don’t listen to people when they try to tell you that it’s not relevant, just state “it is” and then bring it up again in the next meeting.
  5. If you’re a manager, have favourites: this is just soooo cool to do if you are a manager.  There is literally no better way to piss off those people who are not on your favourites list.  If you want people to really talk about you, this is the one to go for.  For added value, place all those that you don’t really like in a maintenance team, fixing all those pesky bugs that your favourites create.
  6. If you’re not a manager, and your manager has a favourites list, try to be on it:  everyone hates a brown nose and this will easily get you straight to number one spot of your colleagues diatribe without a shadow of a doubt.  For this to be especially effective you have to be on that list because you know nothing, but are not going to let that get in the way of your career.  Once you are on it though, try to do things that you know will annoy other people, but your boss will let you away with because you are his favourite, e.g. show up late for stuff.
  7. Keep meetings running on longer than they should: if you think a meeting is nearing its conclusion, try and extend it for at least another 30 minutes – you can do so by going over the same points that were discussed in the previous hour of the meeting.
  8. If you’re a manager, send programmers on courses they will really really hate: one course that will probably do the trick is communication skills.  Ensure that the course has lots of role playing, and drops the average programmer waaaaaay out their comfort zone. To really rub it in, make them write a report about it when they get back.  Then when they give you the report, make it obvious that you are never going to read it anyway.
  9. Make people feel completely uncomfortable if they have to ask you a question: the key to this is to make them feel STUPID.  Some possible tips with this are to sigh loudly when they get to your desk; don’t make eye contact when they speak to you, just keep typing and looking at your screen while talking to them; speak to them as condescendingly as possible, phrases such as “it’s obvious!” and “everyone knows that!”, normally hit the mark; and finally show disdain toward any ideas they come up with.  Also, never finish the conversation by confirming that they have actually understood what you have just said, just sit in silence and see how long it takes for them to realise the conversation is over.  Essentially you are trying to be as unapproachable as possible.
  10. Occupy other people’s space: just start to gradually leave pieces of paper and books on the person’s desk next to you.  Don’t limit it to objects though, try to put yourself in their space as well.  Leaving empty mouldy coffee cups, and half eaten food will likely yield a reaction, just don’t let this stop you.

Write a Comment




  1. Good post, and all the more amusing for its accuracy. Another good one is to wait until you see someone who is in a hurry to leave at night put on their jacket and then say “can I ask you a quick question before you leave”. Doubly effective if combined with number 3.

  2. @kasper Nice one 🙂 I like them. What gets me about most of these things is that people actually do all these things and think it’s perfectly ok.

    Also, I’m wondering from my dZone counter above if those that vote it down do these things and are annoyed at me pointing it out? Or maybe my post is just poor. Oh well, you can’t please everyone 😀 Live and let live.

  3. You would think #9 would be an antidote to #3, but someone has been #3ing me and i’m trying to be all #9 and they STILL come to me with the same problems over and over.

  4. @CarolN Funny you should say that as when I was writing it I was thinking how a good dose of #3 can lead to a number #9 when pushed 😀

    @Antony If only this was the case. I have worked in one place where more than a handful of people would be fired, but unfortunately they are just left in place to make everybody’s life a misery.

  5. Like the post.

    #1 is especially annoying when the one side of the conversation you do hear is in a language you dont know (personally I find it harder to blank it out).

    btw: the new look is good too.

  6. If you have a enemy in work the best thing to do is leave some shite in their desk drawer.

  7. You probably wonder were the Bingabinga comes from I tried many other names but they were taken.PS sorry about the shite comment

  8. Here’s a good one…. …Stick a key-logger or some sort of trojan in their PC workstation….

  9. This sounds like the kind of action that done to the wrong person.
    Could be a serious MISTAKE!!!!
    Who knows what goes on in the mind of some one your annoying.
    Be very careful!!!