The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

Overcoming Workplace Irritations in the New Normal

May 30, 2023 John Neral Season 3 Episode 159
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
Overcoming Workplace Irritations in the New Normal
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tired of feeling frustrated with common workplace pet peeves? This episode is your ultimate guide to navigating those pesky problems like a pro! As we transition back to the office after working remotely, we tackle five workplace pet peeves including the dreaded commute, office politics, noisy coworkers, micromanaging bosses, and unresponsive colleagues. We also shed light on how the pandemic has changed our work-life balance and share tips for adjusting to the new normal.

But wait, there's more! We don't just stop at identifying the pet peeves - we provide solutions! Dive into the importance of workplace etiquette and productivity, as we discuss the art of being aware of noise levels, politely addressing bodily functions, keeping conversations private, dressing professionally, and maintaining a professional tone of voice. Plus, we emphasize the significance of personal hygiene and good manners in creating a positive and productive work atmosphere. Don't miss out on this essential episode for post-pandemic workplace success.

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Today's topic has come up quite a bit lately with some of my client and networking conversations. I gotta tell you some of you are annoyed I mean really annoyed with your coworkers and your bosses over certain behaviors you don't understand or like. Look, it's fair to say, we all have those pet peeves that simply get under our skin. Well, in this episode I'm going to break down five workplace pet peeves and maybe one or two more, and what to do about them, so you can maintain a level of professionalism and productivity at work as you build your mid-career GPS to whatever is next. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, welcome back. This is episode 159 of the Mid-Career GPS podcast. I'm your host, john Neral. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. 

We are back from the Memorial Day weekend. I hope if you traveled, you traveled safely. If you had a chance to spend time with family and friends, i hope it was pleasant, but I also hope you took time to remember the ultimate sacrifice that so many men and women gave in fighting for our country. This is one of those holidays for me that, admittedly is not really a happy one, but I do believe it is important for us to take time to pause and remember the sacrifice that these brave men and women made and honor them as best as we can. So I hope the weekend was good for you. It's just a hard holiday for me in a lot of ways, but, with that being said, you are now back. You are back into the work groove, or you are trying to get acclimated. 

I'm going to keep this episode short, but I just want to remind you, as always, if you're looking for some additional help in your career, i've got a free guide on my website. It's called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing. You can simply go to my website, enter in your email. That will get immediately delivered to your inbox. But I also want to invite you to check out my two books that are on Amazon Show up Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career, as well as your mid-career GPS Four Steps to Figuring Out What's Next. They're at great prices for the summer right now, so hopefully you'll go and check those out as well. 

Now, one of the things the pandemic has taught us is that we've had to adapt to a variety of work situations. Some of you have had to be at the work site 100% of the time throughout the pandemic And thank you we're talking medical professionals and food service workers, and others were able to work remotely 100% of the time. Now there will be a continuing and growing discussion about what returning to the work site looks like, but admittedly, i'm not hearing a lot about how we all go back and integrate back to the work site. We've spent the last three years getting acquainted and comfortable with our habits. We've had to learn what it's like to work remotely from home or what it's like to work in a similar space, let alone house and home, with a loved one, your spouse, your partner, your significant other, and if you have children or pets, you're kind of all integrating how you're playing in that same space And for some of you, coming back into the work site and dealing with other people's behaviors that have admittedly been pretty comfortable over the last few years, it's going to frustrate the heck out of you when you realize that other people your colleagues and coworkers aren't playing as nicely as you are. So let's take a serious but a little bit of a lighthearted look at some of these workplace pet peeves that I'm hearing people talk about and what you can do about them. 

So number one is your commute. Let's face it, you got up in the morning, you walked over to your home office or you walked to the dining room table, you turned on your Zoom background filter and you went ahead and did your work. It was business on the top and pajamas on the bottom, or whatever it was that you were wearing and you got used to it. And I've heard from so many people they're like oh, i can't fit into my work clothes, or I only have a few outfits now that I can wear, or whatever. And the other piece is is that some of you are saying I just don't like commuting back into the office. 

So things that you have to consider here are the frequency, how often you're doing it, how it's impacting your mood, how it upsets your day and work-life balance. Used to be able to get up from your desk and some of you would do a yoga workout or go for a run, or you would just take 30 minutes and sit and watch a television show you really enjoyed. That is all part of how you integrated and adapted to your work-life while you were at home, and it can be absolutely frustrating when you have to realize you need to get used to commuting again. I live in a suburb of Washington DC and traffic around here is admittedly awful, and I see people all the time who don't necessarily slow down at traffic lights when they're yellow and red, or they breeze through stop signs or they get on the highway and they don't use their blinkers and they're speeding back and forth in between lanes. That's all stressful. That's an influencer that hits our mood and how we get to the office. So you have to relearn what it's like to get acclimated into the workplace after your commute And if you're using public transportation, we know that can be tricky as well. So part of the thing here is you might just need a little bit of time when you get into the office to chill out and decompress, figure out whatever it is that you need to do. But here's what I want to offer you Talk to your colleagues about what they need as well. Talk to what they need as well about getting acclimated into their day. 

The other thing to consider is we've got to open up this conversation again about office politics. There is a different dynamic when we work remotely versus when we're in person. Office politics include things like power struggles, favoritism, gossip, side chatter, and it can feel a little bit like you're back in middle school, but if you're like me, you didn't like middle school to begin with. The thing with office politics is that we know they exist. You have to decide how you want to play the game. What are your thoughts about them? How much do you engage, thinking about how you show up on a daily basis to build those professional relationships without feeling like you quote unquote have to play the game? 

Here is one example that I've heard come up a lot And that has to do with the workplace happy hour or workplace function after work. There's some people that don't like doing those things but they feel like I got to be seen, i need to go. If I don't go, they're going to think I'm a snob or whatever. You have to decide what that culture is like in your organization. Maybe you go for a little bit, maybe you don't go at all. Maybe you say, look, i got a doctor's appointment, i got to go. Or I have an appointment, i can't make it, or my kid's got a game, i'm going there. You have to decide what that is, but what I want to offer you here is what would it look like for you to take all the drama out of the office politics and play as you see best? The third one I got to admit when a friend of mine came up to me and talked about this one and said I don't think I've ever really addressed this on the podcast, but I think this would be really good. 

I'm categorizing this as noise and distractions. Here's what I mean by that. Some of you are loud. Some of you have forgotten what inside voices look like and sound like. Okay, i will tell you. We live in a three-story townhouse and when my husband works from home, he has his office in the basement and mine is upstairs. We do have a spare bedroom or office directly adjacent to mine, but because of my ethic rules with my work and protecting client confidentiality, he can't be next door. So you know, i'm always in my office with my door closed and he knows not to come up and bother me during a session or anything like that. But I'll be sitting in my office. Sometimes I will hear him on a call. I'm like you are loud And I kind of just started asking other people. 

I'm like, hey, you know what is like the noise level, like in the office, and I've heard over and over and over again from people coming back and going. Some people just don't know how to use their inside voice, so this is where it comes up, like when you're having a conversation with a colleague if you work in Cube Land, okay, that kind of chit chat that goes back and forth. Be mindful that there are other people working around you. I don't care how good your headphones are, your noise-canceling headphones are, you're still going to hear some of it, so be respectful of your noise level. That are there. And then there's other things like how loud you sneeze. I'm a loud sneezer. I know that You can talk to anybody that I used to teach next to I have a very, very loud sneeze, right. Or if you're someone who blows your nose really loudly or you have a loud cough. These are things that we just didn't think about, necessarily when we're working from home, but now that you're back in the office, you got to keep in mind that other people are hearing that too. Okay, i don't know about you. I am not a big fan of, like, bodily functions and noises and things like that, like if somebody needs to blow their nose and I hear them sniffling. I feel like my stomach just gets turned in knots. Blah-ya-dang-nos, stuff like that. 

The other thing is is your phone on speaker? Who's hearing your conversations? Who doesn't need to be hearing your conversations, especially if they're personal conversations? right? We were out a few weekends ago when we were in this food court and I was just shocked that somebody was sitting there and they had their phone on the table. It was on speaker, everybody could hear their conversation, and it was like I don't care And so I couldn't help but not listen a little bit. I'm not going to lie to you, right, like, i mean, i kind of listened in a little bit. It was nothing like super exciting or anything like that, but it's just like you know. Privacy, right. How do we keep and maintain our privacy? And especially at work, we want to kind of acknowledge that too. 

Number four being too comfortable, right? So these are things like your dress, your attire. There is a standard that your company has set regarding attire, whether it be business casual or business professional, or if it's a suit, whatever. That is okay. You go back into the office, you are going back into the norm that your company has set And, admittedly, sometimes I have heard this. 

You know people come in. They're a little too casual. You are in the office, people are seeing you, they are hearing you and they are also talking about you behind your back. I mean that, in a way, about this is your professional brand and your reputation. We've talked before on the pod about how your brand is what people say about you and you're not in the room. It's a great quote by Jeff Bezos, right? What do you wanna be known for? Because when the time comes for a conversation about who's gonna lead the project or who is gonna step up and be promoted, you want all those things to be positive and, yes, those little things matter. If you're kicking your shoes off and putting your feet up on your cube or your desk, i'm just gonna offer you to not do that. You might be sitting here listening to me going oh, who would do that? I have heard stories, i hear things. I don't work in an office like a corporate office, so I don't have that experience anymore, but I get things from my clients and networking connections and things that I see on LinkedIn, so just kind of be mindful of that. 

The other thing is sometimes the thing about being too comfortable is that we can get a little lax in our language. Language doesn't always necessarily mean profanity. But again, please keep in mind that you're at work, keep your tone professional in nature, keep your conversations professional as well, and if you decide that you need to use some colorful language and it's not necessarily in line with your company culture figure out how best you need to do that safely and appropriately. I think I may have shared. I have worked in a place one time where colorful language was just part of the office atmosphere. It's a very different kind of place to work. I'm not saying it was bad, it wasn't a bad place to work at all, but it was just different. It kind of sets that tone. 

All right, i said five at the top, i've got seven here. Here we go. So here's number five. So it's body odor and bad manners. Okay, if you've got foot funk and you're putting your feet up on the cube, please don't do that. Right, if you're someone who tends to wear a lot of cologne or perfume, keep that in mind as well. That can be a little little butch as well, and you know when you're sitting at lunch or you're eating at your desk. You know, just keep in mind like good manners are always greatly appreciated. All right, my clients know I have this running joke with them, like. So I'll always say to my clients please take care of yourself. 

If you need to have a snack or you need to drink something during the session, it's not a problem, it doesn't bother me. The only thing I ask is that they don't eat egg salad. I had this come up with a client last week and they were like hey, i'm just I'm finishing up my lunch. I hope that's okay. They said I'm eating a salad And I was like it's not egg salad, is it? They were like no, it's like okay, that's fine, i don't. Egg salad is something I think you just need to eat on your own, in quiet, in private, and if that's something you enjoy, that's great. I don't need to see anybody eat egg salad. Of course, i have this fear that I'm gonna go to like my next public speaking event and I'm gonna be sitting there in an audience full of people eating egg salad And I'm just gonna all over the place. Keep that in mind, right? So all that's good. 

And here's another one, though, and this one, this one, i think, absolutely comes from a place of familiarity, and this is what I call the constant complainer. You know who that person is in the office, that as soon as you walk in, they come to you and they're like I gotta talk to you. That is an energy drain of epic proportion when that person comes to you and all they want to do is complain, whine and moan, and if you are that person, if you are that person that feels like you're always going to people and complaining all the time, this is a great opportunity for you to reset that part of your behavior and shift the dynamics of that conversation. Lastly, number seven the thing that I often hear the most, though, about a workplace pet peeve is that sometimes people feel as if they're not as productive in the office as they are at home. So for some people, what's been really appreciated as a result of the pandemic and them working remotely is that they're more focused and more attentive, they get things done more quickly and they're not interrupted by the things that happen when you're at the work site. 

Additionally, you may have a pet peeve about going to a meeting and wishing it was just an email. You may think that's a waste of time, and I'm right there with you. I firmly believe if things can be taken care of an email and they don't need to meet, that's great. There are some people who are like, hey, we're all here, let's get together, and it can be a waste of a time When we are not as productive as we desire. What happens is that there is an upset to our routine and that upset is what causes the stress. So when you're working from home or when you're working in the office, these are the things to consider about what is upsetting your routine and how do you get that back that allows you to be the most productive. 

In the end, when we talk about pet peeves, we are talking about fit. There is something that is now an unfit in your workplace or your workday and that's not allowing you to get the work done and be as productive as you want. So when you think about assessing fit in your current role or even as you are considering a new role as an active job seeker, here are three questions I want you to consider. Question one what do you need? Question two what does your best fit look like? 

And number three what working arrangement is best for you at this stage in your life and career Are you looking for? 100% at the work site, 100% remote? Is it a hybrid arrangement? How does that help you have better work-life balance And, most importantly, allows you to get results? You have a job to do. In doing that job, you get results, whatever your job is. How are you getting those results? 

And if there is something that's bothering you at work, if there's a particular pet peeve or something of that nature, you have to decide for you whether you can ignore it, you can address it and how are you going to move through it. What other pet peeves do you have? I would love to hear from you. So, very simply, you can email me at or DM me on LinkedIn at John Neral, or, if you're on Instagram or Facebook, you can DM me at John Neral coaching. Don't forget, i've got a free career guide on my website called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing. I can assure you, none of these seven that I talked about are in that guide, but I certainly don't want you to be making any of these career derailers. Check out my books on Amazon. 

I'd be honored if you enjoyed this episode or you enjoy this podcast. Just share it with three of your friends and tell them why you enjoy listening to the podcast and what you get out of it. And lastly, remember this we build our mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Bye for now. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform And, if you have a moment, i'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Neral Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters. 

Workplace Pet Peeves and Solutions
Workplace Etiquette and Productivity
Wrap Up