This blog was originally published in 2015; we have since updated it to reflect the most current and accurate information possible.
We’ve all been there: there’s a co-worker that’s constantly interrupting us or eating our food. Maybe they play their music too loud. Maybe they don’t pull their weight in group projects. Maybe their workspace is a wreck.
Maybe you’ve tried time and time again to get them to change their behavior. You’ve asked nicely. You’ve left notes. You’ve explained why their behavior is unacceptable.
If you have an annoying co-worker, we hear you loud and clear.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of peaceful and polite ways to deal with them.
Dealing with a Co-Worker that Constantly Interrupts You
Perhaps most detrimental to your productivity at work is the co-worker that constantly interrupts.
Always popping into your cubicle or office at their heart’s leisure, this co-worker sees your closed door as a light suggestion.
Dealing with the co-worker who always interrupts is tricky. You must be perceptive enough to anticipate their arrival.
Richie Freeman of the Huffington Post recommends creating an unwelcoming atmosphere in your office, to force that co-worker to keep their visit short.
“…make your area unwelcome. Place your purse, your briefcase, your jacket or an extra stack of papers on the extra chair or on the available space on your desk, so they can’t park it for hours.”
Dealing with a Co-Worker that Eats Your Food
The co-worker who eats your lunch or helps themselves to your snacks is a capital annoyance. They’re both costing you money and eating the food that you brought for yourself!
The easiest way to deal with a co-worker who takes your food is to confront them.
If you don’t know who it is, leaving a note attached to your food politely asking your co-workers not to eat it is usually enough to do the trick. Take pictures of the food, with the attached note, so you can show them evidence of your claims.
However, if you have a co-worker who continues to eat your food even after your polite requests for them to stop, take the situation to Human Resources.
You might even want to set up a hidden camera to catch them in the act.
Dealing with a Co-Worker Who is Rude
Unfortunately, the majority of offices possess an employee who is simply abrasive. He or she talks too much, makes rude comments, interrupts, or denigrates others.
A rude co-worker can be quite the distraction, whether it’s in collaborative efforts, team meetings or general interactions.
Dealing with a rude co-worker is a special challenge, because it is so tempting to meet rudeness with more rudeness.
But you don’t want to make enemies. The easiest thing to do is simply ignore the co-worker. Don’t react to their harsh remarks, don’t laugh at their cruel jokes, and don’t acknowledge them when they interrupt another co-worker.
This lack of reaction might just quell their tendency to talk over people and make rude assertions in the midst of team meetings or other interactions.
Whether you’re surrounded by the co-workers we’ve mentioned or you have your own versions in your office, it’s important to find your own ways to deal.
Consider the price of harsh words or impulsive outbursts. Decide, instead, to resolve problems with difficult co-workers with a more measured approach. It’s up to you to decide what that approach will be.