Look around you. Is anyone nearby – close enough to hear or smell you? If that’s the case, you may want to pay more attention to how your actions are affecting others.


The world seems to be filled with people who are oblivious to the ways in which their actions affect others. These oblivious people do and say things that are simply annoying, whether intentional or not.


Once I was on an airplane in which two parents were completely unaware that the noises coming from their son’s iPad were extremely annoying to everyone around them. I’m guessing that over the years they had probably taught themselves to tune out the noise. The iPad was very loud; if sound was needed for the game the child was playing, headphones would have been a perfect solution. I was seated in the row behind the child, trying to get some work done. I politely (and assertively) asked the mother if she wouldn’t mind turning down the volume a bit or having her child use headphones. She immediately obliged my request and she didn’t seem upset in the least. I’m guessing she was unaware that the noise was bothersome to others. She was thinking that her child playing a game was a good distraction for him. They were oblivious to others around them, but not intending to annoy anyone.


I’m guessing we all do this from time to time – unintentionally bothering people with our actions because we’re oblivious to how we’re affecting others. For instance, you may want (or need) your cell phone on while you are at work so your children can touch base with you during the day, but don’t realize that your ring tone is either unprofessional, or too loud. You need your cell phone on but you don’t realize how it affects others.


Have a look through the list below, and see if you are guilty of being oblivious. If you are, start by being aware of the impact your behaviors have on other people, and make adjustments.


This list came from me asking a few people (in person and on Facebook) to help me compile it. I’m guessing there are more things that could be on it. I’m willing to bet that we can all learn something about being more conscious of how we affect others.


Things to stop doing at work:

  • Holding a side conversation during a meeting or a training session.
  • Allowing your phone to ring at your desk when you aren’t there.
  • Putting your cell phone on vibrate during a meeting (it buzzes on the table and everyone will notice anyway).
  • Answering your cell phone during a meeting, or even during lunch with colleagues or friends.
  • Texting someone else while having a work conversation or during a meeting.
  • Speaking very loudly while on the telephone.
  • Loudly asking Siri a question while at your desk.
  • Having a personal conversation (on the phone or in person) that others can hear.
  • Clipping your nails at work (I once saw someone doing this in an airport!).
  • Bringing fragrant foods to work for lunch (popcorn, curry, fish).
  • Eating loud foods at your desk if you work in a tight office setting (raw carrots, chips etc).
  • Listening to music at your desk if you work in a tight office setting.
  • Wearing excessive perfume at work (if someone mentions they like your perfume when they didn’t hug you, it is too much perfume. Yes that person liked it – maybe – but all the others can smell it too).
  • Using scented hand lotion in a tight office setting.
  • Not saying good morning to others in the morning (I realize that many people need coffee in the morning, but you should still be polite).
  • Talking to yourself in a tight office setting.
  • Singing at work.
  • Putting on make-up at your desk.


I’m hoping you have more to add to the list.
I’m also hoping that you are now aware that sometimes, without negative intention, we all do things that annoy other people and that from this point forward you will start to be more aware so the world can become a slightly less annoying place in which to live.


Now, back to my curry popcorn while singing during my afternoon meeting – oh wait, right after I answer this text.

Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF, GSF is a Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame, trainer and author based in Ottawa. She helps organizations feel motivated and educated through her interactive, realistic and fun training programs and keynote speeches. If ... (Read More)

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