The Most Common 'Offensive Behaviors' in the Workplace

Many people spend the majority of their waking hours at work. This means that the rude, obnoxious, and even, at times, immoral behaviors demonstrated by co-workers play a significant role in many people’s lives. In a new poll conducted by NPR and Ipsos, the most common inappropriate workplace behaviors are revealed.


As the NPR article about the poll points out, most of us agree on which behaviors are out of bounds in the workplace. However, “Americans’ opinions shift on just how inappropriate certain behaviors are — sometimes dramatically — by age and by sex. In particular, young men are more likely than women or older men to consider several of these behaviors okay.”

Explaining how it works, NPR reveals,

To conduct the poll, Ipsos offered people a range of potentially objectionable office behaviors along with a range of options for each behavior, from 1 to 7 (always, mostly, and sometimes inappropriate; it depends; and sometimes, mostly, or always appropriate). The poll of 1,130 American adults was conducted online, between January 25 and 30, 2018. The full results have a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

A quick rundown of the poll reveals that 97 percent of us believe that “Spreading rumors about a co-worker’s sex life” is inappropriate. Frankly, it makes me wonder about the 3 percent who apparently think it’s ok. Maybe (hopefully) they read the question wrong. Of course, since the poll has a “credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points,” the actual number may be 100 percent. Or, I guess, it could be 94 percent.

Ninety-three percent believe that “Deliberately touching, leaning, or cornering” is inappropriate. Here’s the thing: at 6’2″ and 210 pounds, if a co-worker deliberately cornered me, they’d quickly find that I ain’t so easily cornered. However, and I’m afraid some people don’t adequately take this into account when they’re discussing violence against women, most men could easily corner a woman and she ain’t going to be able to do much about it. We conservatives need to a better job of making sure that women are treated in a manner that doesn’t cause them to feel threatened.


Not having the space to go through the entire poll, I encourage you to look at the list yourself by clicking on the link to the NPR article. Two final behaviors that I want to comment on are: “Male commenting on female’s appearance” and “Female commenting on male’s appearance.” Forty-nine percent find the first inappropriate; 46 percent find the second inappropriate.

The slight difference in the percentage points doesn’t surprise me. Neither does the below 50 percent line for both. Although, I can’t help but wonder if it’s because the question is so vague. I fail to see how me telling a co-worker, male or female, that “you look nice today” is inappropriate. Obviously, there is an inappropriate way to say even that. But, and I won’t lie, I like hearing positive, non-creepy compliments about my physical appearance. The kicker is that different people may find different compliments creepy. I guess it’s probably better to keep your head down and mouth shut.

The poll also discovered that,

Just because a behavior is frowned upon doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Some of the behaviors that people found most inappropriate were also the ones that a majority of people have seen around the workplace.

Around 8 in 10 people, for example, find it inappropriate to call a female coworker “girl” or “babe” or “sweetie,” but around 6 in 10 people have seen it happen at work. Likewise, 9 in 10 people think sexual jokes or stories are inappropriate, but more than half have seen it happen.


Referencing the behaviors I discussed above, 39 percent of people have heard rumors about a co-worker’s sex life. Thirty-five percent have either seen or experienced being touched, leaned, or cornered in an inappropriate manner. Seventy-two percent have heard a male commenting on a female co-worker’s appearance, and 65 percent have heard a female commenting on a male co-worker’s appearance.

Leave a comment below letting me know which work-place behaviors you believe are inappropriate and yet you still see on a regular basis.


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