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How to Handle Annoying and Obnoxious Co-Workers

by Ellie Williams

Even if you love your job, spending every day with people who drive you crazy can make coming to work a chore. Obnoxious and annoying co-workers can sap your energy and put everyone on edge. No approach fits all cases, so before you take action against a colleague analyze the situation and his behavior.

See His Side

Your co-worker might not intend to annoy or offend you. Instead, his behavior could stem from insecurity, immaturity or a simple lack of people skills. For example, a “know-it-all” might be intimidated because he’s the youngest person in the office and feels the need to prove himself. The office gossip may dish the dirt on his co-workers because he feels left out. Try to understand where your colleague is coming from. If his behavior is unintentional or misguided, changing the way you interact with him could curb his annoying ways.

Confront Him

If everything about a colleague annoys you, there’s little you can do except avoid him. However, if he behaves in specific ways that disrupt your productivity, you’re well within your rights to call him on it. If he routinely corners you and takes up half an hour of your time gossiping or chatting about personal issues, tell him that with so much on your plate you have to focus on work. If he constantly interrupts you, tell him that while you’re eager to hear his ideas, it’s important that you have an opportunity to share your thoughts as well.

Distance Yourself

Sometimes it’s best to tactfully keep your distance. Limit your conversations with him to work-related matters. Avoid working with him on projects and if you must collaborate with him, stay on track during project meetings and quickly go back to your own work when you’re done. Avoiding an annoying co-worker sometimes requires stealth. For example, try not to take your breaks or lunch at the same time so you don’t meet up in the break room. You can also go outside for your breaks or go out for lunch so you can avoid him. If you sit next to him, ask your supervisor for another desk or cubicle.

Ignore the Behavior

Before confronting the person or going to your boss, consider the consequences. If taking action doesn’t resolve the situation, it might make it worse. Your colleagues may see you as a troublemaker, and your co-worker may become hostile or ramp up his annoying actions. If you can’t point to a specific action or explain how it hinders your productivity, you may have trouble making your case. In this instance, you may fare better tuning him out until you can find another job. As a bonus, if the behavior is intentional, your co-worker may stop when he realizes he can’t get a rise out of you.

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