For the first time in two years, many employees are back in the office. While you’re probably excited to see your co-workers in person, they sometimes do things you might find annoying.
Aside from pointedly ignoring them or running the other way when you see them coming, what’s the best way to deal with annoying co-workers?
How to Deal with Annoying Co-Workers
Modify Your Behavior
While open office environments are common these days, many workers find them distracting. With all the typing, business calls and desk-side strategizing, how are you supposed to get anything done?
Using headphones or earbuds can help block out noise and signal to others that you need to concentrate. However, by constantly tuning out, you could appear aloof, unfriendly or uninterested. A radio or white noise machine placed strategically on your desk might provide a more pleasant backdrop or help drown out some of the commotion.
You are more likely to find little office quirks irritating on days when you’re stressed or moody. Don’t blue up; remember to breathe. Deep breathing, taking a short meditation break or walk can help you calm down and re-focus.
You could also practice a little positive thinking about your annoying co-worker. “Instead of stewing in silence…try to see their positive contributions to the workplace,” Chron advises.
Use Work as an Excuse
Does a co-worker constantly choose the wrong time to stop by your desk to chat? Try using a deadline or the need to prepare for a meeting as an excuse to cut them short. After all, you are both there to work.
“When a talker arrives at your cubicle unannounced, continue typing for a few seconds before you look up, and they’ll know you’re not particularly free,” says The Cut.
Nip Gossip in the Bud
Every office seems to have at least one gossip. Try not to encourage them. Office gossip can be hurtful and destructive. Instead, turn the conversation around by saying something positive about the person or topic in question.
“It isn’t nearly as much fun to spread negative news if it’s spoiled by a complimentary phrase about the person being attacked,” says LinkedIn.
Office gossip frequently involves speculation about upcoming organizational or staffing changes. To avoid being part of the problem, check with reliable sources and arm yourself with the facts.
Discuss it With Them Directly
If you decide you can’t stand someone’s annoying habit any longer, don’t let your feelings fester. Give yourself time to cool down, plan ahead and be diplomatic about bringing the problem to their attention. Try to pick a time and place where you and the co-worker can talk privately without interruption.
It may also help to consider what might be causing the co-worker’s behavior. Are they constantly late because they have to take a child to school?
Fast Company advises workers “to go below the surface to understand what fuels and drives their colleagues. This understanding can go a long way towards tempering bad feelings and miscommunication because the actions can be contextualized.”
If you don’t want to confront the culprit directly, bring the issue to the attention of your supervisor or HR. They’ve likely encountered similar situations before and can approach the co-worker for you or mediate a problem-solving session.
Need to Get Away?
According to LinkedIn, “33 percent of employees count annoying coworkers as the No. 1 reason they hate their job.”