Dealing with an abusive boss is difficult enough, but annoying co-workers make life hellish for everyone around them, too. Whether they're male or female, these co-workers can push your hot buttons to the point of quitting, which isn't a good place to find yourself. Coping with these situations requires knowing when to assert yourself and when you need additional help from senior management to deal with a co-worker who is pushing you over the edge.
Analyze the Situation
When a co-worker acts up, take a deep breath and try to analyze why that person irritates you so much, Forbes suggests. After all, you've probably got a few annoying personality quirks of your own, and you may be projecting them onto your fellow employee. Before wading into an awkward situation, ask yourself if it's worth the risk of igniting further conflict.
Sometimes, you can address an annoying co-worker's behavior directly by speaking up at the right moment, U.S. News & World Report career columnist Alison Green says. This approach is useful for confronting most types of annoying behaviors, such as chatty co-workers. If you're in this situation, just say, "I'm sorry, but I've got to finish something up. Can we talk later?" If the chatterbox persists, be firm. Remind him, "I have to get back to work now."
Persistent negative behavior poses stiffer challenges, but you shouldn't overreact to it. For example, it may feel good to say something about a co-worker who's slacking off. Still, if the situation doesn't affect your own productivity, let it go, Green says. Your boss may want to confront the issue himself. Poor behavior that hurts performance is another matter, though. If you're always doing your co-worker's share, or can't expect him to meet deadlines, don't wait to speak up.
Focus on Behavior, Not Blame
It helps to focus on changing behavior, rather than assigning blame. When conflict arises, find a quiet area to discuss the issue with the other person. Summarize what's happened, and stress your wish to work well with her. Then ask, "What can I do to help us get along better?" By showing a willingness to listen, you're less likely to evoke a defensive reaction from her, allowing you to move toward finding some areas of common ground.
At times, you'll reach a point where the situation becomes unbearable, no matter how hard you attempt to ignore the bane of your existence. If your boss won't address the problem, a physical separation from the irritating colleague is the only viable option, Forbes advises. Try taking different lunch breaks, for example, or see if it's possible to switch office locations. The less time that you spend with this person, the less aggravated you're likely to feel.
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images