Working with the same people day after day, and sometimes year after year, can be quite a challenge. If you have a couple of colleagues with whom you connect, you’re lucky. Only 17 percent of people say they have a “work spouse” (a very close work friend), according to research from Totaljobs. It’s probably more common to face challenges where coworkers are concerned.
Coworkers can get on each other’s nerves in all kinds of ways. But, these difficulties often come down to differences in values or even just a clash of personalities. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize the impact when there’s someone at your office who’s driving you up a wall.
1. Don’t engage in drawn-out debates; pick your battles instead.
It’s important to carefully weigh a problem before turning it into an overt conflict. Sometimes, you’ll decide that it’s best to let the little things go.
Minimize challenges by addressing the mountains and leaving the molehills alone. Similarly, if something means more to your coworker than it does to you, yield in their direction. Step aside if they’re passionate about working with a particular client and you don’t really care either way, for example. Hopefully, they’ll do the same in return.
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2. Set firm boundaries.
You will need to address the issue with your coworker if they’re doing something that directly impacts your ability to complete the duties of your job. Let’s say that they keep clogging up your inbox with a bunch of spam emails, for example, or they’re talking too much when you’re trying to focus. Keep your corrections brief and to the point. “Joe, I have to focus on this right now.” Be firm and consistent. You’re at work to work, and they should understand that.
Sometimes coworkers clash simply because they have different approaches to tasks. As long as everyone is getting their work done, people should be free to approach tasks however they choose. Decide together to leave each other alone about this kind of stuff.
4. Put your foot down about truly destructive behaviors.
Some office behaviors, like gossiping and bullying for example, are downright destructive. In an effort to get along, it can be tempting to ignore these problems. But, that won’t make anything any better.
Instead, confront your coworker about these problems in a calm and direct way. Rather than just walking away from a conversation, explain that you’re leaving because the gossiping is unappealing to you. Then, go about your business.
5. Don’t try too hard.
It’s nice that you’d like to improve your relationship with your annoying coworker, but don’t force it. Trying too hard can sometimes make things worse. Instead, accept that this relationship is challenging and try to minimize the damage. Not every coworker will become a friend.
6. If all else fails, it’s time to speak to your manager.
It’s important to attempt to solve issues with coworkers yourself if you can. However, if that doesn’t work and the issue is interfering with your job, it’s time to talk to your manager. This is especially essential if your coworker is doing something like taking credit for your work.
7. Take the break when you’re not at work.
It’s important that you not spend any more time thinking about this challenging relationship beyond what is productive. So, at the end of the day, try to let it go.
Don’t think about your annoying coworker when you’re not at work. It might help to blow off a little steam by talking about it with a friend or family member for a few minutes, but don’t focus on the matter too much.
Instead, enjoy the break. You’ll feel more ready to approach the situation with the right attitude in the morning if you do.
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