How to deal with an annoying co-worker


This morning, I had to work on a project with a very annoying man. He was loud, bossy and he was a know-it-all. I hadn't eaten breakfast and I'm not a morning person, and which means I was cranky to start with so it took a lot of self control not to react when he got into my personal space and spoke way louder than what's acceptable.

At some point, most of us have to deal with someone in business who completely and utterly annoys us. I would like to avoid working with this person, but I can't. I'm stuck with him for two more weeks. But I realize I have to figure out the best way to deal with this situation because today, I let this guy put me in a very grumpy mood.

The reality is that we can't chose who we work with most of the time. (There's an entire website devoted to these people in the workplace with irritating habits:

So what's the best way to cope?

Keep in mind that what you find annoying, your coworker may see as merely constructive, friendly or inclusive. This man who I find annoying is merely trying to be helpful. He's just so LOUD and in your face that no one wants to work with him — including me.

Experts say you have several options for dealing with an annoying co-worker.

1. Steer clear.  If you can avoid the person, do it. It you need to move your cubicle, move it. If you can switch to another team, switch.

2. Address it. Most people do not want to be considered annoying, and they are willing to modify their behavior to remedy the situation if you bring it to their attention with some sensitivity. Most often, the solution is simply to be straightforward and speak up for yourself in a matter-of-fact, professional way. Make it about you…tell them privately that it’s hard for you to concentrate when their voice gets loud or when they get into your space.

3. Repeat. Once you communicate, you may have to repeat yourself again, two days later. Be prepared because you may only get temporary results.

3. Take it up the ladder. If your polite requests for behavior change don't work, you may need to take it to your boss. If you do that, make sure you have a solution in mind for how to bring peace to the workplace.

4. Re-evaluate. Consider whether you have unrealistic expectations of your coworker. While some  employees truly are disruptive because of their annoying behaviors, sometimes  you just need to be more accepting. For all you know, your coworker could find you annoying.

5. Don't counter-attack. "When someone has bad behavior, don't engage in the attack or bad mouth him or her," says Kathi Elster, co-author of Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal. "Instead of taking things personally, focus on acting professionally. Do not get into a power struggle or turn it into a negative interaction." Elster reminds us that there are all kinds of different personalities in the workplace. "It's a mistake to think that everyone operates in the same way as you do."

Readers, have you had to deal with an annoying co-worker? If you confronted him or her, how did that work out for you? Are you guilty of allowing your entire work life balance to get thrown out of whack by letting an annoying co-worker to make you grumpy and miserable? 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

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