29 clever ways to deal with annoying coworkers

Updated on August 22, 2023
how to deal with annoying coworkers

Are you struggling with obnoxious coworkers who make your workday feel like a never-ending rollercoaster of irritation?

Don't worry, you're not alone! We've all had our fair share of annoying colleagues who test our patience and push our buttons.

In this article, we'll share practical tips and strategies to help you when dealing with annoying coworkers while maintaining your sanity and fostering a positive work environment.

So, buckle up and join us on this journey to transform your workplace into a harmonious haven where productivity and peace can coexist!

Types of annoying coworkers

5 types of annoying coworkers

While people can be irritating on many different levels, there seem to be 5 main types of annoying employees that can be found in the majority of offices, if not in every.

Understanding what irks you about them can help you get closer to finding a solution on how to deal with frustrating coworkers and stay unbothered by their irritating behavior.

So let’s look into these 5 different types of annoying coworkers and their characteristics.

1. The Noisy One

Annoying coworkers who talk too much are often encountered in the office. It can be nerve-racking to be in their presence.

Some people just lack self-awareness and their unconsciously noisy behavior can easily irritate the people around them.

Imagine trying to focus on your tasks but you can’t do it because a coworker is either chattering nonstop, tapping with their nails on the desk, singing under their nose, or aggressively typing on the keyboard.

2. The Sycophant

Sycophantic employees are those that like to take every opportunity to act obsequiously toward their manager or boss in order to win their favor.

Their flattering and servile behavior is never sincere and you can easily see through their pretense.

Such people prefer to gain their advantage not through their hard work, but through fawning persons of influence.

However, this trait of theirs can easily win them the hostility of other colleagues.

3. The Slacker

Is your coworker always coming late for work, taking extra long breaks, procrastinating, and never meeting deadlines?

Well, lazy employees can be quite annoying, especially when their slacking distracts you or their work ends up becoming your responsibility.

Moreover, having to deal with lazy coworkers is not only frustrating but can also interfere with office productivity and even be detrimental to the success of work projects.

4. The Gossiper

There are some people who tend to be too invested in the lives of others. They love to gossip and always want to know everything about everyone.

However, gossipers can be quite repulsive in their habit of spreading rumors.

After all, it is never pleasant to find out that you are the subject of office gossip and your coworkers have been discussing you behind your back.

5. The Know-it-all

These are the people who believe that they are more competent than others and are constantly throwing their weight around.

In the office, such people can act arrogantly and authoritatively, and even try to micromanage their coworkers. But there is a good chance that they might be experiencing what is known in psychology as the Dunning–Kruger effect. In reality, they might be quite incompetent.

While their intentions may be entirely good, at the end of the day, working with a micromanaging coworker can prove very frustrating.

They never listen to their coworkers because they think that no one knows better than them, when in fact, this may not be the case.

How to deal with annoying coworkers

5 effective ways to deal with annoying coworkers

When you have to deal with an annoying coworker every day, sometimes the best approach to take is to ignore them.

While this might not be the best solution as it won’t change anything if you learn how to not let coworkers bother you, at least you will be able to save yourself a lot of nerves.

But before you accept the situation as it is, you can try several other methods to handle annoying coworkers. Here is what you can do.

1. Learn to name your emotions

Often at work, we are too busy to pay attention to all the emotions that are overwhelming us. When everything becomes too much, it’s easy to lose your temper.

However, learning to name your emotions can be a game-changer.

The technique, also known as ‘emotion labeling’, consists of identifying your emotions at the exact moment you are feeling them.

According to the extensive amount of research done on the topic, being aware of your feelings can help you reduce the influence of negative emotions and thus, allow you to take control of the situation.

2. Don’t descend to their level

There is no point in fighting fire with fire. This will probably make the situation worse. The chances are that your coworker is not being irritating on purpose.

Their annoying behavior is probably happening unconsciously.

If you try to give them a dose of their own medicine, they might not take the hint. Either they will not register it as something out of the ordinary or will get offended and this might spark an argument.

3. Practice empathy

Try to understand the reasons behind their annoying behavior. Remember, everyone has their own struggles and maybe they're acting this way because of stress or personal issues. Put yourself in their shoes to gain perspective.

4. Establish boundaries

Politely but firmly communicate your limits to let them know when their behavior becomes unacceptable. This way, you can maintain a healthy work relationship without feeling overwhelmed by their actions.

5. Avoid gossiping

Resist discussing the annoying coworker with others to maintain a positive work environment. Remember, gossip can harm workplace relationships and create unnecessary tension.

6. Distract yourself with work tasks

Minimize focus on the coworker's irritating behavior by immersing yourself in your work. Concentrating on the tasks at hand can help you stay productive and lessen the impact of their actions on your well-being.

7. Find common ground

Identify shared interests or goals with the coworker to foster a better connection. Finding things in common can create a more positive dynamic and potentially ease tensions between you.

8. Stay professional

Focus on work-related topics during conversations. By keeping things strictly professional, you can prevent personal issues from escalating and maintain a healthier work environment.

9. Use the "sandwich technique"

Provide constructive criticism between compliments. This approach helps soften the blow of criticism and makes it easier for the coworker to accept your feedback.

10. Practice deep breathing exercises

Maintain calmness and composure by incorporating deep breathing exercises when dealing with an irritating coworker. This simple technique can help you stay relaxed and in control of your emotions.

11. Implement the "gray rock" method

Give neutral, non-engaging responses to your annoying coworker.

By not reacting to their behavior, you can avoid fueling the situation and encourage them to lose interest in bothering you.

12. Limit your availability

Reduce opportunities for frustrating interactions by managing your time and workspace strategically.

Set boundaries regarding when and how you can be approached, thus minimizing the chances of uncomfortable encounters.

13. Use positive reinforcement

Praise the coworker when they behave well. Reinforcing good behavior encourages them to continue acting appropriately and can improve your overall relationship.

14. Document incidents of inappropriate behavior

Record any instances of misconduct to address with management if necessary. This helps ensure that you have a clear record of events and can demonstrate a pattern of behavior if intervention is required.

15. Maintain a solution-oriented mindset

Focus on finding solutions when discussing workplace challenges. By staying constructive and forward-thinking, you can help create a more positive and collaborative atmosphere.

16. Use "I" statements

Express your feelings and concerns without blaming the coworker by using "I" statements. This approach helps you communicate effectively and reduces the chances of making the situation worse.

17. Seek support from trusted colleagues

Reach out to reliable coworkers for help navigating difficult situations. Sharing your experiences with others can provide valuable insights and create a support network for dealing with challenging relationships.

18. Keep a sense of perspective

Remember that everyone has flaws and strengths. By acknowledging this, you can maintain perspective and better understand your coworker's behavior.

Accept that you cannot change other people's behavior. Focus on controlling your reactions and finding ways to cope with the situation instead.

19. Create a mental or physical buffer

Use headphones or rearrange your workspace to create distance from the annoying coworker. This separation can help you maintain focus and reduce distractions.

20. Avoid engaging in power struggles or conflicts

Stay focused on work and refrain from participating in disputes with the coworker. By remaining professional, you can prevent further complications and maintain a healthier work environment.

21. Practice mindfulness techniques

Remain present and in control of your emotions through mindfulness exercises. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or grounding exercises can help you manage stress and maintain emotional stability.

22. Adopt an assertive communication style

Express your needs without aggression by using assertive communication. This approach helps you convey your message effectively while maintaining respect for both yourself and your coworker.

23. Find healthy ways to vent frustration

Engage in activities like exercise or journaling to manage stress and frustration. These healthy outlets can help you process your emotions and maintain your well-being.

24. Seek opportunities to collaborate with other colleagues

Reduce reliance on the annoying coworker by collaborating with different team members. This approach diversifies your work relationships and can provide a more balanced experience.

25. Redirect the conversation

Steer the discussion back to work-related topics when the coworker becomes bothersome. By keeping the conversation focused on work, you can minimize distractions and maintain productivity.

26. Mentally reframe the situation

View the situation as a challenge that helps you build resilience. By adopting this mindset, you can turn a difficult experience into an opportunity for personal growth.

27. Raise the matter

When another employee has been going on your nerves for quite some time, approach them and try to talk things over. After all, if you ignore their behavior, the chances that they will change will be quite low.

Explain to them politely what is bothering you and why. You can be direct with them, but make sure you don’t attack them. Have the conversation in private and maintain a friendly tone of voice.

28. Talk to HR

Now, while you shouldn’t immediately run to the HR office when you have friction with a coworker, if the problem continues, your only solution might be to speak up. Share what is bothering you.

It would be best if you have some evidence of your coworker's inappropriate behavior to prove your case.

The HR staff should be able to help. After all, they are there to help make the work environment more productive and ensure all employees feel okay in the office.

29. Look on the bright side

Think of dealing with irritating coworkers as an opportunity to work on your interpersonal skills. Often in our work experience, we have to deal with difficult situations and people, but this offers you a unique chance to develop your soft skills.

Having to work with a coworker who gets on your nerves can help you work on your patience, self-control, understanding, empathy, and temperament.

This will be to your advantage both for your career progress and in your life outside the office. Also, here you can take a look at our complete series of articles about how to deal with difficult colleagues.

How to avoid an annoying coworker

How to avoid an annoying coworker

As I already mentioned, distancing yourself from coworkers that annoy you is often the best approach you can take to avoid conflicts and reduce the negative impact on your mental health.

But how exactly can you avoid someone when you are supposed to be at the same office with them every single day?

Well, here I will outline a few tricks on how to ignore an annoying coworker at the office.

Take a break

One method that you can implement is to take a break every time the coworker you can’t stand does something that irritates you.

You can go to the nearest window and enjoy the view from it, grab a cup of coffee, put on your headphones, and play your favorite song, or go for a walk to clear your mind and get some fresh air.

At the end of the day, you should never take anything your coworker does personally and allow it to affect your well-being.

Ask to be moved

If your coworker keeps getting on your nerves, ask to be moved somewhere else in the office.

If you are wondering how to get an annoying coworker to leave you alone, some physical distance will surely get your point across.

Changing your desk is a simple, yet effective way to distance yourself from the source of irritation and will help you focus on your work better.

You can also consider taking your lunch break at a different time, so that you don’t run into your coworker, or if that’s not possible, just choose a different location in the office to have your lunch.

Having said that, when you are avoiding your coworker, make sure you are tactful and never mean. This will be your chance to set an example and hopefully, your coworker will take the hint.

On another note, if you are receiving some unwanted attention from one of your coworkers, there is a good chance that they might have a crush on you.

How to tell a coworker they are annoying

Sometimes avoiding an annoying coworker is not a solution. If your job is related to them and you are working on the same projects, it is usually best to talk things over.

But how do you politely tell a coworker to back off?

Frankly, there is no nice way to approach a coworker and let them know that they are bugging you.

However, you can make the conversation a little less awkward and unpleasant by keeping in mind a few things.

1. Have a cool-down period

Don’t act hastily. When your coworker does something that triggers your irritation with them, allow some time to cool your nerves before you talk to them.

Losing your temper and saying something mean in the heat of the moment won’t help. You will only regret it later. It’s better if you first step back, give it a thought and consider what you want to say.

2. Don’t make it personal

When you approach your coworker, don’t just state that you don’t like them or that you find their behavior unpleasant. Rather, relate it to work.

For example, you can say that they are distracting you from your tasks and you are concerned about the success of the project you are working on.

Try to be as gentle as possible. Remember that the person on the other side has feelings.

3. Use humor

Using humor can help facilitate the conversation by breaking the ice and taking away the awkwardness and seriousness of things.

But make sure its use is temperate and it doesn’t sound like you are making fun of your coworker. This is important if you don’t want to offend them and sound rude.

My experience dealing with an annoying coworker

As a project manager at a leading international tech company, I pride myself on keeping my team focused and efficient.

However, dealing with an annoying coworker can be a real challenge. One of my recent experiences highlights just how difficult such a situation can be.

I was managing a crucial project for the company, and one of my team members, let's call him John, was the epitome of an irritating coworker.

John was noisy and inconsiderate, often blasting music at his desk or talking loudly on excessive personal calls.

This unprofessional behavior created distractions for the entire team, making it difficult for everyone to concentrate on their tasks.

John's selfish nature was another issue.

Instead of collaborating with the team, he consistently prioritized his own interests and concerns.

He frequently interrupted team meetings with unrelated questions and complaints, derailing our progress and generating unnecessary confusion.

On top of his disruptive habits, John was highly disorganized.

His poor time management and lack of attention to detail often resulted in missed deadlines and a higher workload for the rest of the team.

It was frustrating to see him continuously fail to take responsibility for his actions.

John's constant complaining was a significant problem as well.

No matter how minor the issue, he never hesitated to make a fuss about it, further lowering the team's morale.

His disrespectful attitude towards colleagues and superiors alike was a source of tension in the workplace, making it hard to foster a positive and supportive atmosphere.

To top it all off, John's egotistical nature was simply unbearable.

He would brag about his accomplishments and constantly sought praise, even when his performance was subpar.

This arrogance made it almost impossible for others to provide constructive feedback, as he was unwilling to accept any criticism.

As a project manager, it was my responsibility to address John's behavior and find a way to maintain a productive work environment.

Through clear communication, setting expectations, and offering support, I managed to alleviate some of the issues caused by his presence on the team.

However, it was an uphill battle that I hope not to repeat in the future.

Frequently asked questions about dealing with annoying coworkers

How do I handle a coworker who constantly makes inappropriate or offensive jokes in the workplace?

Try having a casual and friendly chat with your coworker, letting them know that their jokes might not be landing well with everyone. If the issue persists, you might want to consider having a word with your supervisor or HR for guidance on how to address the situation.

What is the best way to deal with a colleague who speaks loudly and disrupts the work environment with their volume?

Oh, that can be really distracting, right? You could try having a light-hearted conversation with your colleague, asking them to be a bit more mindful of their volume. If it's still an issue, maybe look into getting some noise-canceling headphones or see if there's an option to move to a quieter area in the office.

How do I cope with a coworker who is overly dramatic and turns minor issues into major crises?

Dealing with drama in the workplace can be draining. When you're around this coworker, try to stay calm and focus on the facts. Gently encourage them to take a step back and look for practical solutions to the issues. Remember, it's important to keep your own emotional well-being in check, too.

What steps can I take to set boundaries with a colleague who has a habit of invading personal space or touching others without permission?

It's totally okay to want your personal space respected. Have a friendly chat with your colleague, explaining that you'd prefer a bit more distance. Be kind but firm in setting your boundaries. If the situation doesn't improve, don't hesitate to talk to a supervisor or HR for advice on how to handle it.

Written by:
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co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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