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The Right Way to Deal With Annoying Work Colleagues

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 3 Feb 2011 | comments*Discuss
Work Colleagues Annoying Irritating

Annoying work colleagues can range from the slightly irritating to the type that turns the workplace into a stressful environment. But there are a few ways to successfully deal with annoying work colleagues that can help to avoid any conflicts.

Types of Annoying Work Colleagues

The office joker, the boss’s favourite and the office gossip are just three of the common annoying work colleagues. They may sound like stereotypes but most workplaces do have employees who, with or without knowing it, get on their colleagues nerves. The best case scenario is that annoying colleagues can be avoided for most of the day. The worst case scenario is being forced to sit next to the annoying colleague for an eight hour stretch. Fortunately, annoying colleagues are usually rare but when this situation does occur it should be quickly dealt with.

Try To Keep Contact to a Minimum

One way to steer clear of an annoying work colleague is to simply keep contact to a minimum. Avoid creating a relationship if the colleague is becoming an irritation. This does not mean being rude or stand-offish to the colleague but simply avoiding to avoid becoming ‘trapped’ into long conversations that can become daily rituals. A polite statement such as ‘I’m swamped with work at the moment and must get on’ can put an end to endless chatter. Avoiding going to a lunchroom or taking water cooler breaks at the same time can also help to steer clear of an annoying colleague.

Consider Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Annoying colleagues can sometimes be a very real problem. Clashes of personality in the workplace can lead to major arguments and turn the workplace into a hostile and stressful environment. If this situation cannot be rectified by simply avoiding the co-worker then a conflict resolution meeting may be required. Conflict resolution meetings should take place with an unbiased individual who can act as a go between. This should be the time to air disagreements and see if some form of compromise or solution can be reached. It is also the chance to clear the air between two colleagues and can actually lead to a better working relationship.

Shown Some Character and don’t be Afraid to be Firm

Although there is much to be said for simply avoiding the annoying work colleague this is not always realistic. In some case there will be no alternative but to put a foot down and explain that the colleague should change their ways. This is particularly useful when dealing with an office bully who shouts and makes threats in the workplace. Always stay calm, never shout or use a raised voice; do not lower yourself to their standards. Once the co-worker realises that they have overstepped the mark or that their threats will not work they will usually back down. Sometimes being firm is the only way to deal with annoying work colleagues; this tactic may seem harsh but can be a positive long term solution.

Common Annoyances from Work Colleagues

The list of annoying habits exhibited by work colleagues could be endless but the most common irritants include:

  • Colleagues who talk loudly on the telephone or mobile phone
  • Colleagues who shirk work in the hope others will take on the work instead
  • The office gossip who will relay any information, personal or otherwise, to anyone who will listen
  • The boss’s favourite who denies that he or she is but still takes advantage of the favouritism
  • The co-worker who never stops talking even when their colleague has slipped into a coma during the conversation
  • The authoritarian who does not like any sort of conversation or fun during working hours
  • The constantly absentee co-worker who leaves other members of the team to pick up the slack
  • The office bully who uses threats or a raised voice to get their own way
Realistically, most people are stuck in their workplace for eight hours every day with no choice in the people they work with. In some cases the only thing work colleagues have in common is that they do work together. A completely harmonious working environment is never a realistic situation and there will usually be colleagues who irritate each other at some point. Lowering expectations and accepting that not everyone is going to get along can sometimes be a good compromise. It may be hard but learning to love a work colleague’s habit of talking at an ear-splitting level when on the phone may ultimately be the only solution.

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