Are you fed up with the office glutton?

Inc. Magazine

We are deep into the Lenten season, a 40-day period for introspection and soul searching that is meant to weed out negative habits and attitudes.

Although I am Jewish, I find this season a good opportunity to reflect and consider my own behavior at work. I try to weed out the professional sins that even the most well-intentioned person can commit, in this case the sin of workplace gluttony.

Whatever his or her preferred pleasure, a glutton consumes to the point of wastefulness. The glutton takes his or her share, and everyone else's, too. Food and drink come to mind first, of course, but there are other forms of gorging that make office life less pleasant for everyone. 

Here are seven types of office glutton, and some helpful tips on dealing with them (if it's you, work on correcting yourself and making amends):

1. The coffee hog

The hog has the biggest mug in the office. He visits the coffee pot multiple times per day. And he conveniently never remembers to drop a dollar in the kitty or make a fresh pot after he's killed the last of the java in the carafe.

If a coffee (or other beverage) glutton haunts your office, create a rotation for bringing a bag of beans in for everyone's use. If the coffee swiller forgets, friendly text reminders from the rest of the group can remind him he's accountable. Shaming can work wonders.

2. The cake stuffer

Perhaps you feel like poor Milton from the movie “Office Space” as, somehow, a slice of the celebratory cake never makes its way to you, and yet on someone else's plate, there's evidence of a portion that could feed a small village. It's tempting to call the cake hoarder or pizza pillager out for that selfishness. But just let it go.

Instead, keep a small stash of your favorite treat, such as a box of high-end chocolates, in your desk. Invite one or two favorite colleagues to enjoy these with you in the privacy of your office or cubicle.

3. The refrigerator bandit

Some people just regard everything in the office fridge as fair game. No one really cares about the ketchup packets or Tabasco sauce, but a person's favorite sodas and homemade salad dressing should be off-limits. That doesn't concern the glutton, however; he may even help himself to a whole lunch.

Unless a hidden camera is an option for your team, you'll have to get creative in deterring the bandit. For condiments and beverages, you can put them in an opaque container with your name attached. People are less likely to help themselves to a mystery liquid. For bigger food items, you can invest in a small insulated bag and a luggage lock.

4. The know-it-all

The know-it-all is hungry for superiority. It does not matter the topic, she is an expert and wants to share that information with anyone in earshot. It's irritating enough around the water cooler; in meetings, it's just unbearable. It takes a master facilitator to keep the know-it-all from derailing or dominating the conversation.

Try setting a time keeper to limit everyone's verbal input to 30 seconds; ask the offender to submit a written summary of thoughts at a later time; or schedule the sharing over lunch when mouths are otherwise occupied.

5. The glory hound

Some people have a thirst for recognition that cannot be slaked, no matter how much praise comes their way. The glory guzzler may even go so far as to take credit for others' accomplishments.

You can't always push back when a glory hound shoves his way into the spotlight. But you can check in regularly with supervisors and mentors. Share with them what you're doing, and ask for feedback and advice. If the important people know your accomplishments and value, that can benefit you substantially.

6. The overtime king

This person spends every waking moment at the office and makes sure everyone is aware of it. He will proudly tell you, “I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment,” fully expecting you to agree and confirm that he works harder than anyone else.

There seems to be a growing trend of work martyrs. You can't fix them. While they might be annoying, in the end, they are devouring themselves. Just nod vaguely at their complaints and move on with your day.

7. The serial BFF

Many offices have one worker who seems to burn through friendships left and right. One month, she can't wait to tell you her life story every day at lunch; the next, she only has time for the new guy in accounting. You wonder if your secrets are safe with this person after all. Some types of gluttony aren't about consuming too much, but too quickly. You spend a lot of time with co-workers, so it can be tempting to rush into informality or intimacy with them.

To protect yourself from the serial BFF, take your time in allowing personal connections to develop. Observe people closely before giving them too much private time or information. Don't let anyone force you into sharing confidences before you're ready.

Kevin Daum is a media strategist and the author of five books.

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