How to Deal With an Irritating Co-Worker

Everyone’s not going to be your work BFF, and you’re totally okay with that. But what do you do when a fellow employee is driving you absolutely nuts? Their offenses can range from talking to their nannies on the phone all day long (sans indoor voice), knocking on your desk and then hovering, and stealing your ideas in meetings and then taking all credit for your awesomeness. After you breathe deeply three times (and then several more), you think What should I do? Thankfully, according to a new article in the Harvard Business Review, there is a process for dealing with an annoying co-worker that won’t make it awkward after the fact. Here’s how to handle this tricky situation—and fast:

  1. Ask to start the conversation. Instead of just launching into a 10-minute speech, kindly ask for a few minutes of your colleague’s time. This will set a positive tone for the talk and they won’t feel attacked in any way.
  2. Lay out what we call “true facts.” Make statements without emotion—basically, be objective. Start your thoughts with phrases like “I've observed" or "I've noticed."
  3. Be upfront about how these facts make you feel. Simply explaining your emotions without going overboard will let them know you’ve thought long and hard about this and it really and truly is bothering you. 
  4. Ask their opinion. Remember, this is a two-sided talk, and your co-worker’s opinion is just as valid as your own. Once you begin to understand each other better, you’ll be able to move forward.
  5. Work together to resolve the situation. Nothing can be fixed without some problem-solving. As with anything in life, there’s sure to be a little give-and-take, but come the next day, you’ll definitely feel better.

To read more about how to talk to an annoying colleague, visit Harvard Business Review.

Place a mini zen garden atop your desk for when you need to chill out at the office.

Have you ever had to deal with an annoying co-worker? What was their offense? How did you handle it?