How to Deal with Annoying Coworkers

There’s a reason shows like The Office are so popular — most of us deal with Dwight Schrutes in our own workplaces. While their antics provide great comedic fodder, facing these irritating characters in real life can be exhausting. Even worse, it can affect your performance.

From stinky lunches to high school-style “mean girls,” here are a few tips on handling the most annoying coworkers:

The Transgressionist

This coworker might be guilty of one (or more) of several social etiquette fails. Perhaps he has a body odor problem, blasts Miley Cyrus on his computer speakers, goes overboard during the holidays or heats up codfish stew in the break room microwave.

Tip: If you decide to bring the faux pas to your coworker’s attention, do it privately. Be as tactful as possible and consider offering a little empathy. Tone and word choice are key — keep it friendly and non-accusatory, but be clear and direct. If confrontation isn’t your style, you’ll have to figure out ways to adapt.

The Killjoy

The boss is too tough. The fluorescent lights are too bright. The bonuses could’ve been bigger. The Killjoy never seems to be happy, and her constant negativity really brings down the office environment.

Tip: One trick is to listen to her grievances then ask how you can help solve the problem. Because the Killjoy typically isn’t looking for a solution — she just wants to vent — you’ll effectively end the conversation on positive terms.

The Snoop

Gossip is a mainstay of the corporate world, but some annoying coworkers take it too far. The Snoop is always spreading rumors and nosing around for the latest dirt on everybody.

Tip: If you find yourself cornered by the Snoop, do your best to change the subject to a more professional topic — the duller, the better. If the Snoop persists, be polite but make your lack of interest evident with non-committal answers. Most importantly, never contribute to the rumor mill.

The Competitor

The Competitor is anything but a team player. The entire office hears about every success, and meetings are a personal exercise in one-upmanship. But when a coworker gets the limelight, the uninterested Competitor offers only backhanded compliments.

Tip: The Competitor’s seemingly overinflated ego can often hides insecurity. Avoid stooping to his level; instead offer mild congrats for his achievements and be humble about your own. To counteract his negativity, cheer the successes of your other coworkers whenever possible.

The Bully

Much like it did in high school, bullying occurs in the workplace. According to research by the Journal of Managerial Psychology, workplace bullies affect some 84 percent of employees in some manner.

Tip: These annoying coworkers may not have progressed socially beyond high school, but you have. In many cases, office bullies will lay off once it’s clear their methods don’t affect you. Some, however, will push harder, making situations go from inconvenient to dangerous.

Document every offensive encounter you experience or witness with the Bully. If possible, get witness reports from willing coworkers. If you feel the Bully has crossed a line, take your formal complaint to your manager or the HR department.

The Slacker

A big deadline is looming. You clock in, power up your computer and get to work on that report at nine o’clock on the nose. Your cubicle mate saunters in at quarter after, checks out your progress over your shoulder and proceeds to spend the next hour playing Candy Crush.

Tip: The Slacker’s actions — or lack thereof — might be infuriating, but unless it has a direct impact on your own productivity, it’s best to mind your business and let your boss handle these annoying coworkers. If, however, the Slacker adds to your workload or slows down your progress, document everything and make your case to your employer.

Share your experiences dealing with annoying coworkers. How did you handle them? We’d love to read about your experiences in the comments section.