Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seven Ways to Deal with the Co-Worker Who is Driving You Nuts

OK, time to fess up. I don't care how nice you are, there's someone at work who is driving you nuts. It's either the guy who clips his fingernails while on the phone and leaves the droppings all over the floor, or the woman who complains nonstop about her worthless, freeloading kids. It could be the person who constantly interrupts, butting into your conversations or the guy who has to always trumpet his every success, no matter how small. ("I just reloaded my stapler!")

It’s not enough that you put in long hours on the job, sit in boring meetings and put up with irate customers. No, on top of the bad coffee and the elevator that always gets stuck between floors, you’ve got to put up with the aggravation in the next cubicle, also known as a co-worker.

You’re ready to crack. You like your job, but you can't stand another day with one or more of your co-workers. You don't want to complain to the boss -- how to explain that someone's nasal voice makes you want to shove your favorite snow globe up his nose?

Don’t despair. There is a way to handle a bothersome co-worker without screaming, quitting or running to the boss:

* Write down the things that really, really bug you. Separate personal issues (she laughs like a hyena) from the professional ones (she interrupts when you’re talking). It’s not your place to comment on personal pet peeves, but rather on the professional issues that prevent you from doing your job as efficiently and productively as possible. And remember: Only address issues that directly impact you.

* Speak to the person directly. Schedule some time with her, in a private area where you won’t be interrupted and she won’t feel compelled to lash out because she’s embarrassed in front of others. Be specific about your complaints. "You’re always interrupting,” isn’t helpful. Say, “I believe you interrupt me when I’m trying to make a point in team meetings.” Try to provide an example.

* Ask for change. Once you’ve outlined the problem, then be specific about what you want to happen. “When I’m speaking, I’d like to finish my sentence so that I can make sure all members of the team understand and then I’ll answer questions or listen to other opinions.”

* Be honest. If the co-worker’s actions are really ticking you off, then say so. Describe how frustrated you feel when she pops above the cubicle partition to offer her unsolicited advice. Remain calm while describing how you feel – it will have much more impact than pitching a fit.

* Cut to the bottom line. Make it clear that you’re not bringing up these issues because you’re a whiny sourpuss. State why the issue is important in a calm, serious way.

* Fess up. You need to be honest that you’ve let the issue go on too long without speaking up, or you should have communicated more strongly your beliefs. Make sure she understands that it stops now.

* Look for solutions. Let the other person save face by helping you come up with ways to stop the problem.

So, what's the thing that drives you crazy about your co-workers?

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Anonymous said...

You made me crack up with the snowglobe line! One of my biggest pet peeves is the chronically tragic co-worker. This person is always having the worst day of their life, their problems are too readily apparent at work, and they seem to radiate misery. It's hard enough to be positive at work without acting like someone's therapist as well!

Anonymous said...

The interrupting one is high on my list.
Not listening to what I'm saying is another. Usually because they are interrupting.
Some co-workers take everything you say a little too personal.
Someone who takes credit when they really had only a small role in the project.
The co-worker who toots their own horn.
The co-worker who doesn't carry their own weight, but continually tries to get out of work.
The complaining employee. There is something wrong with EVERYTHING!
The mean-spirited employee - YIKES!


Anita said...

Glad I gave you chuckle...I sincerely hope no one ever has to ruin a perfectly good snowglobe.
I know just the kind of person you're talking about...the drama queen. It's a wonder some offices don't bring back "fainting couches" for the truly overwrought.
Thanks for posting.

Anita said...

Oy! You said a mouthful! The trouble is, these people are often blissfully unaware they make the reast of us bonkers. The question has gotta be: Who drives THESE people nuts???

BullsEyeCareers said...

I shared your posting with my readers and did a follow-up post on using those same tips to deal with a boss who was driving you nuts here.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts.


Anita said...

Wow! That's a tough subject, and one that we should all check out and discuss. I've left comments, but hope others will follow-up, as well.

Anonymous said...

Great tips!
The coworkers the hum while working and don't turn their cell phones or IM sounds off are what drive me nuts. Grr.

Anita said...

Yeah...cell phones are a big source of controversy in the workplace, that's for sure!
I have to say, I didn't realize what a "loud" typer I was until someone pointed it out. I felt bad...and have worked to not bang the keyboard so hard when I type. Guess we think everyone else is annoying...but never us!
Thanks for posting.

mydahling said...

i dont really know why he is driving me nuts. i'm very angry now and cant really tell you why. this is the second day he has taken a 3 hour lunch and he leaves at 5, that is IF he bothers to come to work at all. my boss is aware of his behavior but probably not of these last two days, probably being content that he showed up at all. i do have to cover for him when he's not here, but it really hasnt impacted me these two days except to piss me off. i want to fix this. i know it's me, but i dont know where to start.

Anita said...

I'd say the first step is just having an honest conversation that starts with "I'm having some problems when you take a late lunch. It makes me have to cover for you when I had not planned for it and puts me behind in my other work. It also frustrates me and makes me angry that you don't tell me I need to cover for you."

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for actually knowing exactly what I am talking about. In my case it is a man who has a masters, less time then me on the job, I am older and have 15 years of experience. I do embrace innovation and the new that a young buck brings however I dont appreciate the contradicting, playing devils advocate to pretty anything I bring up business wise. Interrupts me during meetings, and conversations with the boss he constantly tries to sabatoge anything I am trying to implement for the better by putting a YA BUT spin to everything. Its driving me crazy but really have a hard time getting to the point to have a conversation with him as I dont see it would be productive You see I am an A personality there are two B's and I think he is a C.. so its been really hard for me. He has rounded up the other two girls to do the same as him when all are together , of course I have been doing the job much longer then anyone I actually picked him for my team as he had a good resume and now he has turned against me. I dont know what else to do

Anita said...

Dear Anonymous,
No one has as much invested in this that you do, so I'd say it's time to speak up. Bed professional and respectful about it, but you cannot let it continue unless you want everyone to treat you this way -- and they will if they follow his lead. I'd suggest "Crucial Conversation" by Joseph Grenny to help you find just the right way to deal with your situation.

Anonymous said...

I have a co-worker that talks to her mother at least six times per day, on the company's phone, in a foreign language. She also talks to her father at least twice per day, under the same circumstances as above. Next, she constantly interrupts my conversations with my supervisor, even when they concern matters outside of the scope of her position, and her education. Her phone calls cause her to make many small mistakes, none of which are catastrophic, but nevertheless are annoying. Did I mention the phone calls? They happen throughout the entire day, and only six feet away from my desk. They may involve a low mumble, or even stretch into a hostile tone. Also, she leaves every day, for at least three hours to "run some errands." She is also a hopeless hypochondriac, going to weekly visits with multiple doctors, none of which are apprised of her other appointments, or prescriptions. In addition, she takes certain medications on her own, without telling her doctors. She basically treats her actual job as a part time annoyance, whereas dealing with her family is her actual full time job. When I say "dealing," I don't mean they are in some tragic position, no... This family is affluent, and they live in an entirely different state! Let me give you an example: Her mom will call, even before my co-worker arrives for work. When she gets in, she immediately dials her mom's number, lets it ring once, hangs up, and then her mom calls back. Most of the time, my co-worker is completing simple tasks for her parents, such as scheduling someone to come clean the rugs in their house - three states away! Did she buy the rugs too? She will draft emails for her mom, make appointments, obtain prescription information, get them on social security benefits, etc. The list is too long to impose upon you, poor reader. What makes me sad is that she's been doing this for fourteen years, my boss is aware, and does nothing.

Anonymous said...

One more thing.... Did I mention that she is a complete B!T(C)# to anyone that comes through the door looking for assistance? HELLO! That's your job!!!