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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

This week, I read an interesting article about an internet forum where people share stories about the pettiest arguments they have seen in the workplace.

From loud typing to smelly lunches, it seems like there is no limit to the small things that can annoy us when we are trying to do our jobs.

It is one thing to have measured debate about how to reach a sales target and another to be arguing vigorously for and against the colour of folders – one worker shared a story about a manager who went as far as lobbying for their own colour behind everyone’s back after a decision was made.

Most of us can recall at least one bizarre story on a similar vein, so why do so many of us sweat the small stuff?

Cabin fever

Extreme irritability and restlessness associated with being trapped is one possible reason.

If you feel trapped in your current role or your current organisation, you are more likely to feel annoyed about the small things too.

48 per cent of Australian workers are on the hunt for a new job in the next 12 months, according to a 2017 survey by Reventure – almost half are looking for the exit sign.

To retain employees who feel “stuck” employers need to provide opportunities for growth and development. This will help alleviate the feeling of stagnation.

Work overload

In the same survey, unrealistic workload expectations were voted the number one greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace.

If workers have an inordinate amount of work to do, yes, the pen clicking will drive them insane.

Employers need to check in with their team members regularly to make sure their workers have manageable workloads which will help avoid tensions over the small things and help your team concentrate on your overall business goals.

Poor relationships

An analysis of 300,000 counselling hours, also conducted by Reventure, found that poor relationships were the number one reason workers sought counselling.

When it comes to the small stuff, it is common to be irritated at those you do not know so well. If you know a co-worker well, it won’t be a big deal to make a tactful suggestion when something is bothering you.

For employers, the message is to facilitate opportunities for employees to get to know one another. If you are an employee, take action and get to know someone before you pick their annoying habit.

The importance of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your emotions and express yourself in an intelligent way, not about keeping quiet.

For the employer, understand the root problem of your employees’ seemingly minor concerns.

The Workplace Wellbeing report revealed Australian workers don’t think that employers get it: only six per cent think that employers understand how to improve wellbeing in the workplace very well.

For the employee, stand a part from yourself and ask yourself what is really annoying you. It may well be that you are bored in your role and it is time to make a change.