Expanding the database of work jerks

Readers chime in on how to avoid the traps set by Pointless Interrupters, Talker-Downers and more

Stressed businessman at the office

Stressed businessman at the office (Peter Dazeley, Photographer's Choice/via Getty Images)

If I am America's most-beloved workplace advice columnist — and I am — then you, my friends, are America's most-beloved workplace advice column readers.

And you proved it by responding to my recent column on workplace jerks (Business, Feb. 11, http://bit.ly/ZkmOsH), offering a delightfully dreadful array of new "work jerk" categories.

In case you missed it, the column posited that we can better deal with the annoying folks in our midst if we categorize them, understand their irritating quirks and think up ways to defend against them.

This isn't foolproof, but it can empower us to manage the frustrating, the hurtful and the just plain mean folks in our working worlds.

Now it's your turn: work jerk types sent in by loyal readers, who wisely requested certain levels of anonymity. Much of the language is theirs, altered somewhat for space, with some of my own thoughts tossed in.

Keep 'em coming, and before long we'll have a work jerk database that will change the world. (Or at least help me impress my bosses by telling them I'm building "a database.")

The Pointless Interrupter

From Team Player in Chicago

Habitat: Anywhere conversations are happening.

Description: The pointless interrupter sniffs out conversations and interjects, often a comment or observation that adds nothing. It doesn't matter whether you are obviously having a personal conversation, the Pointless Interrupter will step into your physical space and break out cliches or unrelated quips.

Defense: Not much. Pointless Interrupters rarely recognize their jerkiness and might get offended if you point it out. Best to be vigilant and stop talking when you see the interrupter coming.


From Anonymous

Habitat: Usually walking by your desk when you're trying to concentrate.

Description: The Hear-Me-Hum suffers from silence-intolerance. He or she requires white noise at all times, and if no one else is going to make it, the Hear-Me-Hum gladly fills the void with a repetitive, often off-key tune.

Defense: It's unlikely the humming is part of a plot to drive you mad. More likely, the Hear-Me-Hum is a nervous type who finds humming soothing and does it mindlessly. No reason you can't bring up the humming if it's really an issue, particularly if the co-worker sits in your vicinity.

It may be hard for a Hear-Me-Hum to control this, but if you're nice about it, you can reach an understanding and comfortably let the person know when the humming has to cease.

The Talker-Downer

From Tracey in Midlothian

Habitat: Virtually everywhere.