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How to Ignore an Annoying Co-worker

by Elise Wile, studioD

An annoying co-worker can not only make you want to pull out your hair, but that co-worker can make it difficult for you to do your job. When a colleague gives unsolicited advice, constantly chatters or engages in another irritating behavior, you need to find a way to save your sanity. Ignoring your irritating colleague -- without being rude or unprofessional, is tricky, but possible.


Put some distance between you and the person who is driving you to madness, advises Chrissy Scivicque, contributor to Forbes.com. If you know she likes to sit near the door at meetings, make it a point to take a seat on the opposite side of the room. Instead of eating lunch in the cafeteria, brown-bag it and eat in the park across the street. If her behavior is interfering with your ability to do your job, ask your supervisor if you can change offices or desks to create more space between the two of you.

Short Responses

In a business environment, completely freezing out a colleague is not an option. You can, however, avoid getting into lengthy conversations. The next time your know-it-all co-worker butts in with his unwelcome advice, simply say "Thank you, I'll consider that," advises Alison Green in a June 2011 "U.S. News and World Report" article. Then change the subject. If your colleague is once again giving you a speech on why he believes your company is headed for oblivion, simply say, "I appreciate your viewpoint. I'm going to get started on my report now." You'll be giving a polite response while refusing to get sucked into situations that annoy you. (See Reference 2)

Broken Record

An annoying colleague who likes to chat will often fail to get the hint that you don't want to talk -- or simply ignore it. In that case, you can use the broken record technique to keep from becoming a victim of your co-worker's irritating behavior. If she insists on telling you about her date last night when your boss is breathing down your neck for you to complete a market analysis, tell her, "I need to finish this project." If she continues to talk, say, "I need to stop talking and finish my work." This way, you're effectively ignoring her desire to tell you about her personal life without being rude. Eventually, she'll get the message.


Sometimes the best way to cope with an annoying co-worker is to try to see the motive behind his annoying behavior. Perhaps he always asks you to proofread his memos because he feels insecure. Or maybe she talks too much because she is lonely. Giving the irritating people in your workplace the benefit of the doubt can help you better cope with their annoying behaviors, says Scivicque. Recognizing that you may have a few bothersome quirks yourself can also help you to feel peace when dealing with a colleague who aggravates you.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

Photo Credits

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