No matter how well you get along with people, there's usually one coworker that you simply can't stand. If you're a full-time employee, you could spend 40 hours per week with them. It's like a prison sentence where your cellmate is Dwight from The Office.
Fear not, these nine tips for dealing with annoying, distracting coworkers can help. (Sorry, we don't include vengeful, hilarious office pranks to get even.)
1. Develop a Solid Exit Strategy
Every time your coworker starts on one of their soul crushing dialogues, have an exit strategy in place. This will help to limit the time you spend with them each day.
It could be something as simple as saying that you have to make an important phone call, complete an urgent report or work on a project that's due immediately. When your coworker realizes that you're not listening to them or entertaining their negativity, they usually give up.
2. Keep Your 'Tude Positive
If you're having a problem with a coworker being obnoxious, chances are other coworkers are having similar issues. It's important that you keep your attitude upbeat no matter how frustrated you get.
People naturally gravitate to those who keep a positive attitude, and this can discourage your negative colleagues from hanging around. Concentrate on the silver linings in your job. Perhaps you're working on getting a promotion, or you're enjoying the latest project on your plate.
3. Concentrate on Your Work
When you're at the office, you're there to perform a task and fill your role. The more you get lost in your work, the less time you'll have to focus on your coworkers.
You'll most likely never run out of tasks to do, and each new task gives you the opportunity to ignore any coworkers that annoy you. Also, they're less likely to interrupt you if they see that you're busy.
4. Talk It Out
It may be necessary to sit down and talk out your issues with the colleague in question. Instead of allowing their obnoxious behavior to continue and disrupt your performance, you can confront them in a calm manner.
Some people may not realize how their behavior is impacting those around them and they're generally surprised when you tell them about it. But they're also receptive.
Be sure that you talk in a reasonable tone and don't lose your temper. Also, let your colleague know that you will go to your superior if they don't change their behavior.
5. Don't Air Your Grievances to Fellow Workers
Your reputation is extremely important, and you want your coworkers to respect you. Don't get caught venting about another coworker to someone you work with. Stick to venting to close non-work friends or family members.
If you do choose to complain to other coworkers, they may start to question your character as well, and they could see you as the problem. Going public in your workplace with your grievances is always a bad idea.
6. Make the Most of Your Situation
There is no set rule that you have to be best friends with your colleagues, and some personalities just don't mesh well no matter how hard you try. This is okay, but you have to learn how to deal with them professionally. This means that you want to be civil and respectful to all, even if you don't necessarily like each other. In this case, suck it up and be a pro.
7. Look for Alternative Workspaces
If you've exhausted other tips, try looking for alternative workspaces. If it's feasible, ask your office manager if there is an empty office you can use or another space you can work in. This may just be a room that you use for important conference calls or essential projects.
A short change of scenery can do wonders for your productivity levels and mood. This includes decreasing your depression and overall anxiety.
8. Kill Them with Kindness
Sometimes people who are being difficult are simply lacking the necessary social skills to ask for help. Maybe they're stressed out or overwhelmed, and they lash out or act annoying in response to this stress. Perhaps your coworker is currently dealing with a lot more than they let on, and you can help.
Reach out to them and offer to help with their projects. Invite them to come on break or to lunch with you. This can be tricky, because you don't want to put yourself in a position where they're forced to depend on you. But smile, be helpful, and see where it takes you.
9. Get Your Manager or Human Resources Involved
Once you've exhausted all other avenues, it may be time to go to your boss or human resources director. Before you do, make sure you have everything you need to state your case.
Keep detailed notes of how this coworker's behavior is affecting your work environment. Is it causing your productivity levels to drop? Be specific. Your manager or human resources specialist can take it from here.
These nine tips will help you deal with your distracting, annoying coworkers in a productive and positive manner. You'll be able to get your work done and enjoy your work environment with the obnoxious coworker problem solved.
Best of luck.