How to deal with annoying colleagues

October 17, 2012, 11:17 am Simon Boulton Yahoo!7

When you spend more time at work than with your family, it’s important you get along with your colleagues.

They say you choose your friends but not your family. Where do colleagues fit in? We spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our friends of family yet we don’t really have a choice in who they are.

No one likes being controlled, backstabbed, belittled, tyrannised or made to feel inadequate, so what happens when day in day out you have to deal with the office jerk?

As with beauty, difficult is indeed in the eye of the beholder. In this context, difficult refers to anyone who makes your life at work stressful or unpleasant. Essentially the annoying colleague.

There’s no escaping the people you spend 40 hours a week with, unless you are willing to change jobs or sabotage theirs. You’d be surprised how much you can do to change an annoying colleague into a manageable, or perhaps even likeable one.

Here are a few common annoying workplace personalities.

Annoying Colleague 1 - The Spotlight Stealer


This person may not actually lift documents off your desk and put their name on it, but they have a great tendency to make your great ideas seem like theirs. They will never acknowledge others for their contribution, they are happy to take the credit and let people believe they did it all.

Deal with it - Bring it to their attention by saying they forgot to mention you. Market yourself and let as many people know what your involvement was. Put everything in writing, when you have an idea to present, email it to several people, it’ll provide proof the idea was yours.

Annoying Colleague 2 - The Drama Queen


There’s always one, that one person who never finds anything to be happy about. The Universe conspires against them and if they are not complaining that the coffee is stale, the boss is a bitch, or no one understands how much they contribute they will be complaining about their health, friends or family. They are constantly in crisis mode and every little issue becomes a huge problem.

Deal with it - Chances are they don’t actually want advice, they are just looking for someone to listen. Try changing the subject when the whining begins, next time respond with phrases like “lets look at the bright side” and “actually, I think (insert the bosses name) works really hard and deeply cares about the staff”. Hopefully, they will get the hint, and see they are not going to get any satisfaction from you, once they know you are not buying in, hopefully they will go and suck the life out of someone else.

Annoying Colleague 3 - The Gossip


This person knows everything and wants to share it. These people create conflict and suspicion they discuss everything behind closed doors, to give the impression they are part of everything. Typically their stories and lively personality make them fun to be around - but beware have you noticed they also take too much interest in your life?

Deal with it - If they start dishing the dirt on the bosses relationship dramas, change the subject to Brad and Ange, and ignore it all together. Distract them, don’t lecture about gossiping they will think you are up tight and may possibly make you the subject of their tawdry tales. Convince them you are totally boring, you spent the weekend watching paint dry, its no fun gossiping about someone who isn’t very interesting.

Annoying Colleague 4 - Your Best Friend


This one is definitely the most harmless. The person will be very sociable and will probably have been the first person you spoke to and made you feel at ease in the office, they sit at the desk next to yours and tell you everything from their cheating boyfriend, to slob of a flat mate. The problem is their incessant chatting, giving you rambling monologues while you desperately try to get your work done.

Deal with it - Just be polite about it and take the blame, say you struggle to multitask and can’t concentrate when listening. Limit their expectations, don’t freeze them out completely but control when and for how long you can socialise with them. So the next time you are caught next to the water cooler and rambles on about the split of their relationship, try saying “that sounds really hard, I wish I could give you my full attention, but I cant right now. Why don’t we grab a quick lunch Friday so I’ll be all ears?”

Final Thought


There is no single cause for the annoying colleagues behaviour, you have to to tailor your response to each case. Unfortunately some organisations reward the behaviour of annoying jerks. That's not true in the best companies, bit if its true of your company, ask yourself, is this an environment where I can thrive?

Always be on the lookout for your own annoying behaviour. If you act like a jerk, examine your heart and repent. Your colleagues will thank you.

More from Simon Boulton:
Are You Sabotaging Your Career?
Hang On To What You Have Got - How To Retain Top Talent
The Anatomy Of A Great Manager - What Great Managers Do Differently

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