4 Tips to Dealing With Difficult Co-Workers

Recognition & Motivation Ideas

Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with a difficult coworker, whether it’s in a large office setting, the service industry, or a small business environment. Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht describe four types of co-workers in the in their book, “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Work.” They are as follows: The Talker, The Kiss Up, The TMI and The Gossip. Maybe you know someone in your workplace who fits one or more of these titles. If so, we have some tips for you. According to workplace etiquette expert, Carly Drum, with the New York-based firm Drum Associates, these tips should help you being able to cope with a difficult co-worker.

  1. Take a break from your surroundings and those who annoy you. If you work forty or more hours a week in the same place with the same people, there are bound to be mannerisms, habits, and little idiosyncrasies that drive you nuts. Take breaks from your surroundings. If you are given a thirty or sixty-minute lunch break, then please take it. Removing yourself from the irritants for a while each day will help you be able to deal with the annoyances more patiently.
  2. Be strong mentally. Don’t let the irritants that surround you break your concentration and frustrate you so much that it affects your work. Ignore those who irritate you as much as possible and limit your interaction with them throughout the work day.
  3. Bring the problem out in the open. There are ways to kindly and professionally make your coworker aware of what he/she does that irritates you. In a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way, say something to your colleagues about the behavior that is bothering you. You may even find out that you, yourself, have annoying workplace habits. Sometimes people don’t even notice their annoying habits. Cracking gum is something that many people do so often they don’t even realize they’re doing it. Tapping a pen or pencil is a common nervous habit that people don’t know they’re doing. A gentle calling of this to their attention may be met with appreciation not anger.
  4. If it gets out of control and is truly interfering with your productivity and you have tried other methods to no avail, speak to your direct supervisor. If a polite one-on-one with the offender does not yield positive results, you may have no other choice than to go to your boss. Effective supervisors understand the importance of nipping problems in the bud to avoid major conflicts in the future.

If you are annoyed by a coworker’s bad habits or annoying behavior, follow the above suggestions. Your problem may go away very quickly and without any hard feelings.