The Best Ways to Get Along With Annoying Coworkers

What to Do When You Work With Difficult People

Don't Strangle a Difficult Coworker
Difficult coworker? Don't resort to strangling her. Wavebreak Media Ltd / 123RF

Whenever you bring together a bunch of people, there is a jumble of different personalities. Some of them exist together harmoniously, but there are always a few outliers. The workplace is no exception. In addition to people with whom you can easily get along, you will also find some annoying coworkers. What sets the workplace apart from many other settings is that everyone—even those who are the most difficult—must cooperate in order to be productive.

Here are five types of annoying coworkers and advice that will help you get along with each one.

The Chatterbox

Let's start with your most affable coworker. The chatterbox usually means well. She is friendly and wants to share all her thoughts (every last one of them) with you. She isn't trying cause harm to anyone...her incessant talking is just keeping you from concentrating on your work. Here are some things you can do to quiet down your talkative coworker so you can get your job done.

Don't risk insulting your colleague by telling her to be quiet. Instead, put the blame on yourself. Tell her you have trouble concentrating while you are listening to her very engaging stories but you would love to hear them at some other time. Just not while you're working. Then, if you truly enjoy her company, have lunch with her once a week (less often if that's too much for you).

The Gossip

The gossip seems to know everything about everyone and he wants to share it.

Should you listen to what your busybody colleague has to say? It depends on the nature of the information. If you have the opportunity to hear useful news that may not make it through more formal information channels in your workplace, then you should pay attention, but do it with a cynical ear. The problem with gossip is that it carries both elements of truth and fiction.

However, if the news being shared is of a very personal nature, for example, he starts telling you about another coworker's marital problems, change the subject or say you don't feel right discussing someone behind his back. Avoid conveying any information he shares with you with others because then you run the risk of becoming a gossip too. 

The Complainer

There's always one person in a group who can never find anything about which to be happy. If she's not complaining about her health or her family, then her job, the company, or your boss are the subjects of her disapproval. Of course, some of her complaints may be legitimate, but the incessant whining is getting on your nerves. She's in danger of bringing everyone down with her negativity. Change the subject whenever the bellyaching begins or, if the complaints are centered around work, ask her if she'd like your help brainstorming some solutions. Who knows? Together you may be able to solve some problems.

The Delegator

In almost every workplace you'll find someone who wants to share his work with his colleagues. These aren't people who have a legitimate reason to delegate work to others, for example, managers or team leaders. They are those who either can't do all the work their boss has assigned to them or don't want to do it.

If teamwork is encouraged in your office and you have time to help your colleague, you should. However, if managers are the only ones who have the authority to delegate or you already have your hands full with your own work, then you have to turn down the request. Tell your coworker you don't have the time to take on any more tasks.

The Credit Grabber

The credit grabber does not acknowledge when others have collaborated with her on a project and contributed to its success. She accepts all the praise without mentioning that she didn't do all the work. The first time this happens, you can consider it a mistake.

Maybe she just forgot to say she had help. Let your colleague know you are offended and ask her to let others know about your participation. If she refuses to do that, or if this happens again, make sure you let others know about the role you played in getting the project done. Then, unless your boss forces you to work with this person, refuse to help out again.

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