Work is stressful enough without dealing with personalities that drive you crazy. Being distracted by annoying coworkers can throw you off your game by making it nearly impossible to stay focused on your actual job. This is why it’s so important to learn how to deal with annoying coworkers.
Depending on your personal triggers, you may be able to dismiss certain types and get back to work — but other types can make even star employees feel burned out and demoralized. Identify the traits of these annoying colleagues and learn how to deal with them to alleviate workplace tension.
Here are 10 kinds of annoying co-workers you may have to deal with in the office:
— Loud talker.
— Political agitator.
— Overworked martyr.
— Constant socializer.
— Kitchen slob.
— Weekend warrior.
The Loud Talker
Whether you work in an open office or one with cubicles, a loud talker in your midst can quickly become the bane of your existence. While you’re trying desperately to compose an email, write a report or handle a call with an important client, the loud talker is just a stone’s throw away, conveying information at a decibel level that’s better suited to a 3-year-old’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. The loud talker is either oblivious to your efforts to get some work done or insensitive to them. Either way, this type of annoying colleague can take over your thought stream and ruin your morning.
Loud talkers are hard to deal with if you don’t have a door to separate you from their noise. If the loud talker makes office rounds at a particular time of day, consider booking a conference room at that hour to finish up essential projects. Noise-canceling headphones will also come in handy around this kind of annoying co-worker (and others mentioned below). You can always try the direct method of simply asking them to keep it down.
The Political Agitator
The political agitator seeks recruits for his or her favorite political causes among the staff, oblivious to the fact that this can cause friction among coworkers — or, perhaps, specifically because it can. Regardless of where on the political spectrum this individual might reside, the political agitator will either discuss divisive issues during work or pressure the entire team to come along to a rally, flash mob or protest to boost the ranks.
To keep these unwanted invites out of your inbox, keep it simple by stating, “I don’t discuss politics at work.”
The office gossip can usually be found clustered with other co-workers around someone’s desk, getting the scoop on which colleague is dating whom, what department may have layoffs or the questionable thing that a manager did at the company holiday party. Since there’s always something to gossip about (or fake gossip to spread), this type of annoying co-worker is busy year-round, creating distractions for others who are either actually interested in the “news” or don’t know how to say no to it.
The best way to avoid being sought out by a gossiper is to conveniently disappear when he or she comes around with announcements or seeking intel. If you do find yourself cornered, consider putting on noise-canceling headphones to help you focus on your work and tune out unnecessary gossip.
Every work group usually contains someone who sees the quickest way to career advancement as rubber-stamping everything the boss says or does. Whether it’s constantly complimenting the supervisor or volunteering to take on extra projects, the suck-up is always the first with a hand in the air. Most supervisors know who the suck-ups on the team are and what they are up to — and some may be perfectly happy to have them around, validating their every move.
To counter this irritating team presence, be genuine with your boss about your true opinions and ideas while also being a strong individual performer and team player. Many managers will appreciate having an employee on the team who they can trust to share authentic insights, even if they don’t always agree with them.
The Overworked Martyr
The martyr is determined to outdo everyone on the team in having the biggest, most burdensome workload. If you mention a project that you’re working on, the overworked martyr won’t let you have the last word, saying: “Oh, you have a report to finish? I have three reports and about 300 emails to get to before lunch. I am so stressed.”
One way to deal with the overworked martyr is by simply agreeing with their statement. You might say, “That is a lot of work! You should probably get back to it.” A more effective approach could be to guide them toward getting help with time management and delegation, suggesting that they should let the boss know about feeling overwhelmed with the workload.
The Constant Socializer
Some people live to work; the constant socializer isn’t one of them. This type of co-worker looks for every opportunity to divert people from their projects by planning get-togethers and persuading other people to attend them. “Hey guys, who is up for lunch out, happy hour or even brunch on Sunday?”
Making yourself unavailable when the constant socializer makes announcements — either by hiding out in your headphones or conveniently needing another cup of coffee when a drop-in is about to occur — can help keep you out of the loop while experiencing the joy of missing out. If an invitation is extended to you, you can mention you have other commitments, such as duties you have to your family or other things you have going on outside of work.
The Kitchen Slob
Every office with a shared break room has at least one kitchen slob who leaves dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink, abandons meals in the microwave and forgets about food that they placed in the fridge until someone else notices that it has morphed into a science experiment.
Lobbying the office manager to issue a weekly “clean-out the fridge Friday” rule is one way to keep this situation under control. Any food left in the fridge by the close of business at the end of the week is unceremoniously discarded.
The Weekend Warrior
Most offices have at least one person who is known much more for the sports events that they participate in over the weekend than for the work they do in the company. It might be a marathoner, a 5K road racer or an obstacle racer who does the Tough Mudder. You’ll know this type by the medals, T-shirts and race photos decorating their office. While fitness enthusiasts may be interested in hearing about the weekend warrior’s latest race times, pre-race meals and weigh-ins, others in the office may feel their eyes glaze over when this person begins recounting every moment of last Saturday’s event.
If you want to ensure that you’re never cornered again by the weekend warrior, listen closely while they rattle off their times and weights — and then gently suggest that those aren’t bad for someone just starting out. This will often result in welcome silence.
The Personal Over-Sharer
Most teams have that one member who lacks an appropriate verbal filter. Every detail — whether from a relationship breakup or shopping trip — is to be shared and rehashed for everyone within earshot. The personal over-sharer might also be called the time-suck because the minutes can quickly add up to a wasted chunk of the afternoon, gobbled up by overly long personal stories.
Handling the personal over-sharer comes down to validating the sentiment but shutting down the topic. “I would love to hear more, but unfortunately I have to get back to work.”
Every group has a know-it-all who may also exhibit some of the same characteristics as the suck-up. This self-explanatory type is often a jack of all trades but master of none. Nevertheless, the know-it-all wants to be sure to come across as the authority on every topic.
When ignoring the comments fails to stop the behavior, try calling the person’s bluff with other facts that call into question the know-it-all’s overreaching expertise. It may only buy a few days of improved behavior, but the respite can be worth the intervention.
You have too much to do at work to suffer the antics of these annoying co-workers. Regardless of your industry or office culture, learning the best strategies to discourage and deter irritating behaviors — when ignoring them does not work — is a lifetime career skill that’s worth perfecting.
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10 Types of Annoying Co-Workers and How to Deal With Them originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 11/30/20: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.