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How to Deal With Unpleasant Co-Workers


Every workplace has one–the co-worker that makes everyone’s day a little more difficult or uncomfortable. It’s far from an easy thing to deal with an unpleasant co-worker, whether they’re the office gossip, the loud phone-talker or the type that delights in spreading rumors. We’re going to look at a few things that might be done to help alleviate some of the stress of having to deal with someone you don’t entirely get along with.



    •   1
    • Figure out if you can avoid the situation completely. If the person is someone that you only run into occasionally but dread having to see, find out if there’s a way you can avoid him completely. If it’s someone you regularly run into while taking a walk on your lunch break, take a different route or start lunch 15 minutes earlier.

    • 2

      Take your breaks away from everyone else. While many people are tempted to go for coffee or on smoke breaks with some of their co-workers, this can be a bad idea. You’re already seeing them 8 or more hours a day, so take a break from them. Take breaks alone; find a place where you can go to sit and read, even if it’s in your car. Go out of the office for lunch; many of us are tempted to eat at our desks and continue to work, but lunch breaks are there for a reason. Sometimes this breather will help you refocus and realize when the little annoyances that are driving you up the wall might be nothing major at all.

      • 3

        Give your co-worker the benefit of the doubt, and see if you can talk to him about what’s annoying you. He might not realize how loud he’s talking on the phone, or how often his cell phone rings while it’s at his desk and he’s at a meeting. Sometimes a simple, “Please could you…?” is all that it takes.

      • 4

        Don’t encourage the behavior. You may be doing this without even realizing it. Not excusing yourself from a long-winded conversation with the office drone may be implying that they have a rapt audience in you, and even the most forced laugh at the office’s not-so-amusing comedian might be a reaction that goes completely over their head. If you’ve been caught by someone who insists on telling you her life story, politely tell her that you need to get back to work. After a few hints of the sort, the behavior will change.

      • 5

        Don’t let the person intimidate you, or push you around. It seems as though there’s often one person who never has time enough in the day to get all their work done, and is more than happy to delegate it to others. While it happens to everyone at some point and there’s nothing wrong with lending a helping hand to a co-worker, when it becomes a pattern it isn’t fair to anyone else in the office. Don’t be afraid to tell the person no.

      • 6

        Never stoop to their level. If you find yourself angry with the office gossip who always has nothing but mean–and inaccurate–things to say about anyone else, resist the urge to do the same to them. As tempting as it may be, taking higher ground will always make you look the better person in the end, especially if the problem is taken to management.

      • 7

        Talk to a supervisor about the problem. If you’ve heard grumbling from other co-workers about the same problem person and behavior that you’re having issues with, this can be the most productive thing to do. Sometimes a chat with the supervisor can be worth a hundred times the amount of talking to a co-worker, and this is when taking the high road will really pay off.

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