The Lurkers: Why Socially Awkward “Supervisors”
Make Me So Uncomfortable


So today I am deciding to vent about something. Something that has bothered almost every since I started working, but especially since I started at the new company I am at. What is this something you ask? It’s The Lurkers. The Lurkers are the people at your job that just happen to always be right behind you, the lurkers are the ones that seemingly appear from out of nowhere whenever you least expect it. Throughout my post collegiate career I was fortunate enough to only have to deal with two; all I can say is…I can’t stand The Lurkers.

I will admit that my mind drifts at times, probably because I have very little passion for the work that I do; this is probably why I am great prey for the Lurkers. I have noticed that the Lurkers tend to have impeccable timing; they can always show up when you are chopping it up with a co-worker, or when you are reading an article on the web that has nothing to do with your job. Yes I will concede that I probably should be doing work (for explanation of why I am not busy see this post), but that is not my problem with The Lurkers, my problem is that they don’t say ANYTHING or if they do it is of little importance.

My first encounter with a Lurker was on my first project with my new job. The Lurker in question was the project manager; it just so happened that he was my age. This was a poorly managed project, so there were a lot of times when there was simply no work to do. Anyhow, I happened to be on this project with a friend of mine; during our frequent periods of idle time we would converse, not about work, but about random stuff, technology, fashion, business, real estate, etc. While, my friend and I sat next to each other, the lurker sat down the hall; he would always appear when we were talking, he would not say anything, he would just stare; almost as if he wanted to say hey guys get to work, but was scared to or felt he couldn’t say that because he knew we had no work to do. I mean, I would have had no problem with him taking part in the conversation, but he just wouldn’t do it, he would just stare. I hated it. His staring would cause this uncomfortable silence that would just screw up a perfectly good conversation; my friend and I would wind up retreating back to our respective desks and continue doing absolutely nothing, since there was nothing to do in the first place. While this experience was a mere nuisance, my next encounter with a Lurker just flat out pisses me off.

The only other lurker that I have encountered is on my current project. This guy is a strange character to say the least. I have noticed that he just tends to pop up directly behind me, and just stand over me looking at my computer screen; this has occurred so frequently that I have been able to sense that he was behind me. Sometimes he will actually say something, usually to the affect of, “How’s it going?” or some other shoot the breeze type comment. I would not mind holding a conversation with him, but I can’t condone the lurking. He randomly appears behind me at least four to five times a day, it’s almost as if he is trying to check to see if I am doing work. I would like to point out that there has not been a task on this project that I have not finished ahead of schedule, yet, there he is watching over me like I am a child; I really cannot stress how it irks me. Even when he comes by to check on my progress and I inform him that I have finished, he will still come back later, sometimes as soon as 15 minutes, and lurk.

You may be wondering what type of people these Lurkers are, or why would one lurk, I have a few thoughts based on my observations of the two I have encountered. I have noticed that the Lurkers tend to be young; they tend to be smart as well as socially awkward. Surprisingly, today my current lurker took some class in which he got a Myers-Briggs assessment; how ironic that his results said that he tends to invade peoples personal space and waste their time. I have also noticed that lurkers tend to be in their first managerial role, and they have been used to being an “underling”. They probably are so happy to finally have someone to boss around, that they feel they must constantly crack the whip, but rather than be blunt about why they are constantly checking in on you, they just lurk. Please don’t misconstrue this, I have no problem holding a conversation with someone, I have no problem shooting the sh*t with people I don’t have much in common with, I like making new friends, and finding similar interest with people, I am not anti social; It’s just the damn lurking that makes me sick. If I was someone that did not have a habit of finishing his or her work on schedule I might get it, but I don’t have this problem, so I just do not understand why I am constantly the subject of lurking.

Am I crazy? Is this all in my head? Has anyone else ever had to deal with an awkward lurker in their workplace?