I’ve noticed a phenomenon in my office and it’s one that I’d like to touch on today with you. It’s called “hovering”. Here’s how it’s classically defined:
intr.v. hov·ered, hov·er·ing, hov·ers
1. To remain floating, suspended, or fluttering in the air: gulls hovering over the waves.
2. To remain or linger in or near a place: hovering around the speaker’s podium.
3. To remain in an uncertain state; waver: hovered between anger and remorse.
The act or state of hovering: a helicopter in hover.
Office Hoverers, however, come in various types. These are the ones I have noticed in my own office, and I’m sure you have some of these in your place of business:
THE READER – The Reader will approach and greet you, striking up a conversation. The difference between The Reader and a non-hoverer is that The Reader will stand in a spot so they can read whatever happens to be on your computer screen, phone or whatever you happen to be doing when they get there. These are nosy hoverers, and the reason I got a privacy screen for my monitor. Whether they’re being nosy for good or evil can generally be determined after a few fly-bys, but it’s best not to take your chances. If you can’t get a privacy screen, hit the Windows Logo Button+M – that will minimize everything you have up at the time, leaving him staring at your desktop.
THE ANNOYER – The Annoyer approaches you with absolutely no reason other than to blather on about something you might have mentioned you liked once just to get them to go away in the first place, or something mildly related to your field of expertise. For example, if you run an I.T. department this guy will approach out of nowhere and say, “Hey, did you ever see that video where the LOLCAT crawls into the box and shoots lasers out of its butthole? It’s totally LASERLOLCAT!” You’re an I.T. professional, after all, so obviously you have seen everything ever put on the internet. It’s best just to agree with these guys, as any response that says you don’t know what he means will result in a longer conversation about them trying to remember where they saw it and then them email you the link and then stopping back by moments later to see if you got the email and watched the video yet.
THE STALKER – The Stalker walks up to your desk silently and stands just out of your line of sight until you feel their presence, as if you’re supposed to use the force to figure out that they’re there. Eventually they will make a small throat-clearing noise or touch the back of your chair which, naturally, will scare the hell out of you. The Stalker always wants something from you, too, so beware their presence. God forbid they use email or a telephone to ask you a question or favor. It’s clearly much easier to walk halfway across the office and stand there like a child of the corn to get your attention.
THE STORYTELLER – The Storyteller will wait for you to arrive and then, before you’ve had a chance to read a single email, will swoop in and begin to regale you with unwanted tales of their life since you last saw them yesterday at five. No matter how much you turn away to take your coat off, put your lunch away or get your job done, there is an endless stream of noise emanating from them:
“So, yeah, I got off work last night and went home and had dinner. I made a little steak and couldn’t decide if I wanted to have a side but you know me – I gotta have a side, right? So, yeah, I microwaved a potato and it was totally hot but then I found out I didn’t have any sour cream and I was, like, FML I’m out of sour cream! What the heck, right? So, yeah, I ate dinner and then I was kind of sleepy so I watched some TV. OH! So I’m watching TV, right, and then (insert name of boyfriend/girlfriend/flavor of the week sex partner) called and was, you know, wanting to hook up and I said, um, no I just ate and I’m totally full and I’m watching TV. (He/She) was SO ANNOYING, you know? Like I don’t have anything better to do than to sit here and listen to your life story, right? Some people’s children! So, yeah, I finished THAT conversation and then was, like, maybe I should get some sleep so I went to bed pretty early. Then my alarm went off and I got up and got ready and the radio was playing the WORST music. I have GOT to get one of those iPod dock thingys. You have one, right? Anyway, I got ready and then came to the office and I’ve been sitting there bored wondering if I should get breakfast but I feel so fat anyway I should probably just eat some oatmeal so I figured I’d come over and, you know, say good morning and see if you’re hungry.”
Even if you stare at your screen answering emails throughout this entire ordeal they won’t get the hint. The problem with The Storyteller is that they’ll wait for you, even if you avoid your desk for the first few hours of the day. The only possible out is the classic, “Can we chat later? It’s really busy right now.” This will buy you some time but not get you off the hook, unless they find someone else to latch onto.
THE TRIES-TOO-HARDER – The Tries-Too-Harder is possibly the worst, as he is a combination of pretty much all of these people. He will follow you around trying to please you, telling you stories and volunteering for everything. If you utter, “I need someone to…” he’ll be there volunteering before you can even finish the sentence which, unfortunately for him, ends with, “…gargle nitroglycerin and pour fire ants down their pants.” The fun part is that this guy would do it, too, just to gain your appreciation. The poor guy doesn’t even know that you have absolutely no feelings for him either way, and simply enjoy making him do things that you don’t want to do.
Those are the types of Office Hoverers I have seen in my own professional career. I hope this guide will help you identify and, hopefully, thwart them in your own place of business.
If you have anything to add or a type I’ve forgotten, I’d love to hear about it. Leave us a comment!