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Peeved- Why the littlest things at work can be so maddening?

Few people are as knee-deep in our work-related anxieties and sticky office politics as Alison Green, who has been fielding workplace questions for a decade now on her website Ask a Manager. In Direct Report, she spotlights themes from her inbox that help explain the modern workplace and how we could be navigating it better.

Judging by the mail I get at my work advice column, a lot of us feel quite strongly about relatively minor things at work.

Some pet peeves make perfect sense, such as being annoyed with people who leave food splattered inside the microwave or thinking dark thoughts about that guy who takes all his calls on speakerphone.

But sometimes the things that most get under our skin look, well, awfully trivial.

For example, have you ever left papers on the chairs of colleagues who were away from their desks so they’d spot them when they returned? It turns out that a not-insignificant number of people find that disrespectful and infuriating. Here’s one of them, but based on the flood of comments this topic has received at Ask a Manager, this person speaks for a surprising number of others:

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