5 clever ways to deal with annoying coworkers

Published: 05/01/2022
how to deal with annoying coworkers

When you spend every single day at the office with the same people, after a while even the smallest things in your coworkers can start to annoy you.

Whether it’s because they just won’t stop talking or they are constantly complaining, at some point you realize that you just can’t stand them anymore.

While it’s perfectly normal not to be on good terms with everyone at work, when an annoying coworker starts to disrupt the work environment in the office and prevents you from doing your job optimally, you need to do something about it.

So here I’ll share with you some useful tips on how to deal with an obnoxious coworker effectively.

5 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, where in fact, this may not be the case.

5 effective ways 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. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

1. 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 wellbeing.

2. 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 do you 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 not a 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 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.

Key takeaways on dealing with annoying coworkers

  • To deal with an annoying coworker, you need to understand the reason for irritation first and how that influences you.
  • Don’t get back at your coworker because this will either make the situation worse or simply show no effect.
  • When your work is related to a coworker you can’t stand, talk to them but do it in private, not rashly, be polite, and don't make it personal.
  • If you decide to raise the issue in front of HR, make sure you have supporting evidence of any accusations you are making.
  • Take advantage of having to deal with a difficult coworker by using it as an opportunity to work on your interpersonal skills and learn from the experience.
  • Find something that calms you down and practice it every time your coworker frustrates you.
  • Change desks to distance yourself from a coworker you can’t stand and avoid their company during the breaks.
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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