How to Deal with an Annoying Coworker - 14 Ways to Deal with One.
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One of the most accurate proverbs in English is that “Familiarity breeds contempt” and there are few places where it is more glaring than the workplace. People are made to be around each other for hours unend everyday which forces them to observe certain behaviors from co-workers that would annoy them.
There are so many things that could be the cause of that annoyance ranging from a talkative co-worker to a lazy one. There is also my personal favorite: co-workers who steal your food from the fridge especially when you come to work with a delicacy.
Regardless of the ways they annoy you, it is important that you find a way to deal with them or they will mess up your emotions at work and by extension, your productivity. Once that is hit, you will begin to have serious challenges with holding your job down. The basic point is this, either you deal with the co-worker situation or the co-worker situation will deal with you.
We don’t want that to happen which is why we have listed some ways for you to deal with such co-workers in this article.
Check out our sister article on finding out if you are the annoying co-worker that isn’t liked.
13 Types of annoying co-workers.
The first step to dealing with annoying co-workers is knowing why they annoy you and what kind of annoying co-worker they are. This will enable you to develop an effective resistance to their tomfoolery.
So first off, we shall talk about the various types of annoying co-workers you might have come across.
1. The Talker
This is probably the most popular type of annoying co-worker there is. Such people cannot seem to stop talking. They will show up at your workstation and keep going on and on about things that aren’t relevant to you, your job or anybody else for that matter.
Under this category also falls, loud talkers. These are specially irritating coworkers because they are like second hand smoke – affect you even if you are not the intended target. They have louder voices than Sia and want everybody to know. This can be especially irritating when you are chasing a deadline and need all the peace and quiet you can get.
2. The Activist
There are also the activists who keep campaigning for various causes.
Sure some of them are noble but there is only so much a person can take. If it isn’t about starving children, it’s about homeless people or migrants or orphans or disbaled people etc. Now we are not at all saying it is bad to campaign for such, we are simply saying that everything should be in moderation.
Constantly talking about sad things will depress the office.
Also under here are the political activists who always have some new political drama they would like to discuss – “not today Becky, just not today.”
3. The Arrogant
Arrogance is annoying to most people in small doses so it definitely will be annoying in larger ones. This is why people usually detest an arrogant co-worker because it is in their faces all the time.
Arrogant coworkers want to be right 120% of the time and can make the office really frustrating when they try to impose themselves on everyone.
4. The Buttkisser
There are times employees need to stick together in order to avoid being mistreated and taken advantage of by the boss. Times when unity should be the office mantra. And in most of these cases, there is also the saboteur.
These saboteurs want to advance at work so badly that they will try to suck-up to the boss as often and as much as they can and if it means that they have to throw their colleagues under the bus then they will rent a double-decker so that the job is done right.
5. The Extrovert
These are the lives of the party. They always know which social events to go to on the weekends and even weekdays to unwind from work. Such people can be awesome to have around but can become annoying when it is all they talk about.
Instead of allowing people to focus on work, they just keep going on and on about where the party is and how they need to unwind which makes little sense because you need to actually work to want to unwind.
6. The Newscaster / Gossiper
It is not an exaggeration to state that just about every office has a news anchor that feels the need to go about updating people on what everyone else is up to. Listen to me Amaka, you aren’t spreading news, you are gossiping.
Gossips are one of the worst kinds of annoying colleagues because they can create tension in the office which leads to toxicity and a lack of productivity.
7. The Overachiever
Remember that kid in class that always reminded the teacher of the homework they gave the previous day – this is them.
They are constantly out to do more and more work which can be inspiring, but also annoying when it is overdone because it paints the other employees in a bad light. There really is no solution for this because it is a good thing when employees are very productive. It is just so frustrating and annoying to see.
8. The Nasty
When you are stuck with other humans for hours unend the last thing you need is to smell body or mouth odor. This is why that one person in the office who does not take care of themselves enough can be very annoying.
There are also the co-workers who don’t clean up common areas such as the kitchen sink when they use it. This may seem very trivial to them but can be very annoying to others.
9. The Lazy
By definition, people go to work in order to work. Some co-workers, however, never got this memo. They come to work complaining about how they have to do this and that and why the company sucks and why the ground should open up and swallow them to save them and then they proceed to do as little work as possible.
These kinds of people are especially annoying and a nightmare to work with in groups. They do the bare minimum and leave others to pick up the slack.
10. The Gender Hater
This type of co-worker usually targets their female colleagues with snarky comments and actions that are meant to undermine them because they don’t feel like women can crack it in the professional world.
Of course men can also be victims of this especially in professions that are considered to be traditionally feminine. Bottomline is, these are hateful coworkers who need to be dealt with because gender discrimination has no place at work.
11. The Racist
Hot on the heels of the above are the racist co-workers. These co-workers behave based on preconceived stereotypes that put other races down and are usually directed towards people of African and Asian descent.
Sometimes such actions can be done openly but most of the time, they are subtle. Such co-workers avoid the company of people of races they look down on and make underhanded comments and decisions that affect them. Such behavior calls for very tough measures.
12. The Unfunny Comedian
We cannot forget those co-workers who believe that they should have been comedians in another life even though their jokes are painfully boring. They keep cracking boring jokes after jokes and sometimes you have to laugh so it doesn’t get awkward.
13. The Food thief
Remember that episode on Friends where Ross’s coworker not only took Ross’s sandwich but then discarded most of it in the trash? Such demons actually do exist and there are few things more annoying than bringing food to work just for someone to take.There should really be a law against this.
14 Ways to deal with Annoying Co-worker
Now that we know some of the ways a co-worker can annoy us, we can dive into how to handle these annoying coworkers.
1. Find out why they irritate you
The first thing you need to do is to find out why it is that they bother you. This will give you insight on how to handle the co-worker because you cannot solve a problem if you do not know what that problem is.
So take a seat, bring out a pen and paper, and list the annoying things the co-worker did and then look at the following strategies for the best way to deal with what you have written.
Doing this is also advantageous because you might find that it was you that was the problem in the first place.
2. Ignore them
It may not be entirely possible to ignore your problems away but this is one problem that you can ignore. Simply refuse to listen to the annoying coworker or let what it is that they are doing annoy you.
This is effective against loud talkers (you can put on headphones), gossipers (they will go find another audience) and the activists.
3. Use your work to save yourself
The beautiful thing about being at work is that work itself can be an excuse. When the gossipers and talkers come to you, you could simply tell them that you are chasing a deadline and so you need to focus on that.
And if they know there is no deadline, find other ways to keep yourself busy at work.
4. Talk to them
One of the most effective ways to deal with annoying people at work is to be direct with them. Go to them and tell them that their antics do not amuse you but you need to be smart about how you do so. Some tips include:
A. Do it in private
It is best to approach them in private and talk to them. There is a better chance that they will be more attentive when you do so. If done in public, chances are higher that they will be on the defensive in order to save face.
B. Don’t go to them angry
Don’t approach them when you are angry because this can lead to problems as shown in this article about speaking in anger.
C. Maintain professionalism
Whatever the case, this is still a work colleague and you have to maintain professionalism in any dealing with them related to work.
D. Stroke their ego with positive compliments
It would be best that you do not go in guns blazing when approaching your co-worker. Bring up positive instances to balance the negative instances and they will be less likely to be defensive.
E. Bring up specific instances
Making general statements does not drive the point home as much as precision. They need to know exactly when and how they annoyed you as this would leave them with less of a defense.
5. Don’t revenge
An eye for an eye makes the world go blind and one place you do not want to be blind in is at work. Avoid doing back to the person what they do to you as this could create a lot of workplace tension as well as distract you from your work.
If they are talking loudly, don’t join in and talk loudly as well because there will now be one more loud talker in the office. Don’t do this for gossipers, lazy coworkers, food thieves and definitely not for the arrogant.
6. Positive thoughts and time outs.
It is important that you do not let the annoying actions of your irritating coworkers get to you. When they start being annoying, tune out and think positive thoughts that can help you keep your head in the game. You can do so with some of these helpful tips on how to stay positive.
You can also give yourself time outs by taking a break when the annoying activity starts. You could take a walk or simply go out for some fresh air.
Useful for the talkers, activists, arrogant, extroverts, gossips, nasty and the unfunny comedians.
7. Don’t encourage their bad behavior
You should endeavor to ensure that you do not condone the behavior of the annoying co-worker as this would encourage them to engage in it more.
If your co-worker is lazy, don’t cover for them. If they gossip, don’t engage with them when they talk. And if they come to talk to you whilst you are working, don’t continue the conversation.
8. Escape the situation
If the co-worker constantly annoys you in the same manner, you will become adept at knowing when the annoying action is coming. In such cases, simply avoid the situation and go do something else so as not to be affected.
Works well for talkers, activists, gossipers, the nasties,and the unfunny comedians.
9. Let them know your stand
Sometimes it pays to set the record straight from the get-go. This way the co-worker knows not to engage in the annoying behavior around you.
This is virtually useful against all kinds of annoying coworkers listed here. It might create a little conflict in the short run but it is quite useful in the long run.
10. Establish a mutual connection
It is a proven fact that people are better able to overlook annoying traits in others if they have some form of relationship with them. If you find that other methods have not worked or if you would like to take a less drastic measure, find a common ground with your annoying colleague that you would not mind talking to them about.
If you both relate on a level that you are comfortable with, there will be less chances that you will be annoyed with them.
Works well against those co-workers who annoy you with words.
Sometimes you just have to lay down your arms and stop fighting because you can’t win and your best bet would be to manage the situation.
Understand that humans will always be a certain way and meet your co-worker halfway. Accept some of the annoying traits and try to avoid the others.
Works well against talkers, the overachievers, the nasty and the comedians.
The co-worker might only be engaging in the annoying activity because they are going through something or they can’t help themselves. In such cases, a little empathy would go a long way.
The talker for instance, might feel like they need to talk to someone or the activist might have a really personal reason for advocating for a cause. Listening to them wouldn’t hurt too much.
If however, the actions don’t stop after some time, take other actions because you can only care about another person’s problems for so long when you have your own as well.
13. Talk to someone
Sometimes a good vent can cleanse you of negative energy and calm you down. Find a person or two that you can talk to about the actions of the annoying co-worker. This could be family or friends but most likely your partner.
Be sure that whoever you pick understands the value of discretion so that the things you say don’t reach the coworker and give them the impression that you are talking behind their back.
If the annoyance is quite serious or you have underlying emotional issues such as anxiety, talking to a therapist can also work.
14. Talk to HR or Legal.
This is listed as the last option because it is quite drastic. Nobody likes being called to order by the HR Department and definitely not by the legal department. Be sure therefore, to only use this for the more serious cases like discrimination or if the actions by the annoying coworker have been consistent and now threaten your productivity.
You can suggest to HR that they implement certain measures such as:
A. Group meetings
Here whatever problems co-workers have with each other can be hashed out in an open manner and a comfortable environment.
B. Quiet areas
The company should introduce quiet areas where people are not allowed to talk. It would be a good escape from talkers and gossipers.
C. Company policy on co-worker relations.
The company should have formal rules and regulations on how co-workers should relate with each other so that certain situations such as food thievery can be avoided entirely.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you handle working with people who annoy you?
- Find out why they annoy you first.
- Ignore them
- Act busy.
- Be direct and talk to them.
- Establish a mutual connection.
2. How do you get an annoying coworker to leave you alone?
- Be direct and talk to them
- Ignore them
- Act busy
- Talk to HR if it is really serious.
3. How do you politely ignore a coworker?
- Talk to them
- Explain that you are busy
- Converse with them in such a way as to kill the conversation by limiting responses.
Annoying co-workers are a pretty serious problem at work with some people even stating that it is the reason they hate their jobs according to this chart from Visually.
The current Coronavirus pandemic saved a lot of us from physically being around coworkers and so we were less annoyed. Seeing however, as vaccines continue to be rolled out across the world, we will be heading back to work soon where our co-workers will definitely get on our nerves. We therefore wish you all the best as you go about applying the tips given above so as to preserve your sanity.
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