My job is torture right now because a co-worker is driving me crazy. He is annoying, obnoxious and unprofessional. He not only bothers me, but he prevents me from being productive as well. Complaining to my supervisor would just make me look like a whiner. Is there anything else I can do?
At some point in our lives, we all have to deal with a coworker we can’t stand. Here are a couple ideas that might keep you from losing it.
1. Get accurate about the situation. Robert Bacal, author of "The Complete Idiots Guide to Dealing with Difficult Employees" says you first have to ask yourself, “Who is the problem?”
Is the person annoying several people at work? Or only bothering you? If everyone else gets along with this person, you might be the one with the problem. You may need to work on letting things go or being more thick skinned.
2. Avoid the annoying coworker as much as you can.
Here are some avoidance tips:
If this person’s behavior is keeping you from getting work done, and avoidance techniques aren’t working, it’s time to have a talk about it.
Do not have this conversation in the heat of the moment when you are annoyed or angry. Take time to step back and get a clear head first. The conversation will go better if you are calm and cool.
Daniel Robin, a consultant who runs the website www.abetterworkplace.com says the conversation will go over better if you talk to the person in private. Don’t gang up on the person with other colleagues.
Pull the person aside and ask if this is a good time to talk.
Don’t criticize or put him or her on the defensive upfront. Ask him or her questions about your working relationship and how he or she feel about it. Listen to his or her thoughts and feelings and validate the right to see the situation the way he or she does. Even if you think he or she is crazy, you must honor and respect his or her right to be who he or she is.
Then ask the person if he or she would be open to hearing some of your honest feelings. Ask if her or she open to some feedback, even if it’s hard to hear.
Wait for a yes.
Speak your truth about how you would like the work relationship to be. Focus on the solution and how you would like to be treated. Don’t focus on past behavior. Ask if he or she would be willing to honor how you feel about this and what you need at work.
4. This last idea is sneaky but very effective. Figure out how you would like this person to behave and thank him or her for behaving this way as often as you can.
One manager who tried this had an employee who was sharing confidential information with people outside the organization. Instead of getting angry, this smart manager pulled the employee aside and thanked him for being so careful with confidential work information. He told him how much he appreciated being able to count on him to handle sensitive material with discretion. He thanked the employee for this quite often.
They never had a problem with leaked information again.
Positive encouragement makes people want to change themselves. Dr. Rick Brinkman, a professional trainer and author of the book "Dealing With People You Can't Stand" says, "Any time that you project positive on a person, you shove them in that direction."
You could also go to upper management with your frustration, but like you mentioned in your question, you may be seen as a complainer. If you decide to talk to a manager, get some other colleagues, who are also annoyed to go with you.
If none of these techniques work there’s always revenge. You could superglue his or her mouse to the mouse pad or pull all the keys off his keyboard, rearrange them in different spots.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.