How to remain professional when you working with annoying co-workers.
I was recently contacted by Pedestrian TV for my professional advice on how to deal with toxic and annoying co-workers. Below are a summary of the seven types of toxic co-workers and how to deal with them.
The Noisy Co-worker
In today’s open plan offices, there’s no getting away from a noisey co-worker. The best solution is to talk to them about it; this is where your assertiveness skills come in.
All the good writing on assertiveness suggests that we use ‘I’ statements, which go something like this: When I hear loud noises, such as raised voices on the phone, I find it difficult to concentrate on my work and I’m wondering if you could lower your voice so that we can have a quieter workplace. What do you think, can we work this out?
The Negative Co-worker
A negative co-worker can bring down the morale of the whole team if you’re not careful. Surround yourself with upbeat people and repeat positive thoughts throughout the day to counteract the negative things you hear. And don’t hesitate to be direct. Tell them you choose to handle tough situations with a positive attitude. If they know you won’t be a sponge for their negativity, they may direct it elsewhere.
The Stickybeak Co-worker
When asked questions such as ‘how old are you?’, ‘do you have a girlfriend?’ and you don’t want to answer; asking why they want to know can help. That way you can decide if it’s a good enough reason for you to tell them. And if you don’t want to, just politely tell them that answering that question would make you feel uncomfortable. Tell them you don’t really like answering personal questions at work. You’re not making it personal, it’s not about them, it’s just a rule you have.
The “Ghoster” Co-worker
When you’re getting no response, it’s time to pay a visit to the ghoster — in person (not by email). Calmly explain your need for the information and the importance of the time frame. But keep an open mind and remain friendly. There may be many reasons why he/she isn’t responding: They could be overworked or they may not see your request as a priority assignment. If there’s still no resolution, go up the ladder to the person’s supervisor.
The Know-It-All Co-worker
Sometimes the ‘know it all’ really does know a thing or two and may be excited to share something they’ve just learnt so give them a bit of leeway. If the person is a superior, you may just have to suck it up. Getting into a slanging match or being sarcastic isn’t going to help you. The best way to deal with this person is to ignore them and get on with your work and realise that often this show of knowledge covers up a feeling of inferiority when they really don’t know it all. So, have a bit of compassion.
The BFF Co-worker
These people are often very needy and it is hard to deal with someone like this as they don’t have healthy boundaries. You need to be the one who sets the boundaries and lets them know what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour in the workplace. Decide where your limits are and let them know this. If you are OK to go out for lunch, say once a month, tell them that and if you don’t want to have any outside work contact at all, tell them that it is your policy to keep work and social life separate.
The Credit Stealing Co-worker
This is common in the workplace and a good way to deal with it is to ask the credit stealer some pertinent questions. You can say, for example, “I noticed that in the presentation you said “I” rather than “we” and I was just wondering why that was when we both worked on the project.”
You are letting the person know that you noticed what they were doing and giving them a chance to explain. You can also be more direct and use your assertive ‘I’ statements here again.
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