I have been an intern for this company for a few months now, and recently they hired someone to help on the project we're working on, I'll call him John for this post.

When he first started here, someone with autism, I'll call him Pete for now, was working in the same room where he was placed. (I have had no problems working with him before). John gets agitated very quickly about his code 'lying' (as he puts it) and gets quite vocal about it. This didn't sit very well with Pete, and after a few clashes, including talks with the product owner and even CEO, John calmed down a lot.

After a few weeks, Pete left the company. After Pete left, John started being very agitated again. I'll give you an example what happens:

When he gets errors in his code, or something else that doesn't work, he starts saying things like 'Hahaha, nice try...' or 'Cmon, don't be so childish' every few minutes, which isn't all that bad. The bad part starts when this continues for 15 minutes and he starts cursing. Nothing serious, just things like 'fuck' or 'shit'. When he can't seem to solve his problem, he starts standing up and walking around the room. Usually he walks behind me for a few steps, and walks back, sits down, and repeats this for a while.

Now I don't know if I should say something about this. This has lead me to wearing headphones in the office, which I realise might come over as rude to other colleagues who also work in the same room. Also, no one else seems to notice or seems to be annoyed by it, am I just getting annoyed too quickly?

Also, am I supposed to let him know as an intern? I have discussed this with my product owner, who is aware of the problem, John just doesn't seem to learn from it and continues being like this. Is this normal in an office?

Edit: I'll add more information about his obnoxious behaviour, since it doesn't end there.

John really wants to be a part of everything he hears. No matter what conversation, he has his opinion. And no matter what topic, he wants to talk about him and all the studies he has done.

Whenever you try to have any type of conversation with him around, he'll talk about 100 different things which might be related. (Let's say a casual talk about the weather, he'll start talking about his study in chemistry and how about pollution is ruining China)

Any conversation he's not a part of, he'll still laugh out loud when they make a joke. After that he tries to chip in on the conversation, even though the people talking are pretty blunt he wasn't included in the conversation.

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    To be fair, walking a bit also helps me to re-focus so I can solve a problem when I get stuck. That said, I don't usually call my code names...
    – T. Sar
    Jan 19, 2017 at 14:52
  • related - workplace.stackexchange.com/q/4206/2322
    – enderland
    Jan 19, 2017 at 15:46
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    Thanks, haven't seen that post. And to whoever downvoted, mind explaining why? Jan 19, 2017 at 15:50
  • @TSar walking helps you, but not to your coworkers. You can walk in another place instead the office - not necessary outside of the building. Just my two cents. Jan 20, 2017 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


I think you have done about all you can in regards to this situation and have taken the appropriate steps to minimize this person's impact on you.

In terms of headphones, every single developer on my team wears them as we sit in a shared office space with folks who either support our products or are working with the business folks in defining requirements (They talk a lot on the phone as part of their job).

Keep your headphones on and ignore this person. Remember your time left there is short, and you want to be remembered in the best possible light for possible permanent employment or a reference at a minimum.

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    That's all there is to it, to be honest; just ignore him. He's not really harming anyone by his actions, and perhaps it's just his way of attempting to solve a problem. Jan 19, 2017 at 14:07
  • Well headphones only solves a part of the problem. I can still hear him (I don't want to block out all audio, and he sits 2 meters away from me). Would it be considered weird or rude when I say something about it? Jan 19, 2017 at 14:09
  • I suppose you could, but based on what you said about this person how well do you think he will respond to you mentioning this?
    – Neo
    Jan 19, 2017 at 14:10
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    @MisterPositive yeah I see what you mean. He already looks down on me for being 'just the intern', so I figured he'd respond the same way. Only a few weeks left for me here, so I'll guess I'll just ignore him. I'll leave the question open for a bit longer to get multiple angles on this, if you don't mind. Jan 19, 2017 at 14:13
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    @RandomStranger I will admit I tend to do this as well. He might just be so into the problem he doesn't even realize he's doing this. Best thing you can do is pump up the volume on your headphones and ignore him. As for the "Know it all" part. Never speak to him unless you have no choice and then only focus on business things.
    – Snowlockk
    Jan 19, 2017 at 14:29

If you find it annoying he walks behind you, then you can / should talk to him about this; and whether or not he's walking too close to you. Many developers - myself inclusive - find it annoying to have people move in (close) behind you while you're working, because you can feel it in the table, chair and so on plus the feeling of somebody standing there can easily remove focus.

However, if he just moves around the office "near" but not close to your, then it's something you basically have to accept. Many people react differently to frustration and thinking about problems, and moving around is one way. So you really need to determine whether he's close to you, or you're just annoyed in general.

If his outburst towards code are audible - you can (should) communicate this with him as well (or through a manager or how ever your company handles these things); and you could ask that he tries to contain them. Because I would suspect it's not as much the noise, volume or the words he utters, but the fact they're coming suddenly. A period of relative quiet suddenly interrupted can easily be more disruptive than a prolonged period of noise.

But also, as you've found out - headphones might be the way to go if possible, to help block out the noise. Headphones might seem like "rude", however personally, almost all developers I've worked with used headphones - simply because it allows you to control the sounds you hear and block out uncontrollable ambiance, which might help you concentrate. But again people are different, and different people have different methods for focus and concentration - so if he affects your performance, you are as much in your right to at least raise a discussion about the noise level. In that situation I'd try and do it in a more 'office-wide' discussion, addressing the issue in a general manner and without trying to single out a persons behaviour.

As for your edited part, then I don't really see that as "obnoxious" behaviour more-so as a person trying to integrate himself in a new place, beside new people. Try and remember back to when you were the new and how it was trying to get "inside" the crowd. I think your perspective of him might be a bit jaded - properly stemming from by the other elements that annoy or affect you. You should however be careful not to see everything he does in that light, which can be difficult - I know this from myself that if you are annoyed at a person, that annoyance can quickly spill into other situations.

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    I get your last point, I shouldn't judge him because I'm annoyed. About the walking around part, there is a space of around 1 meter behind me, so it could be considered close. It's more just the movement every time, it gets hard to concentrate. Jan 19, 2017 at 14:46

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