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Build Your Career Office Life

6 Productive Ways to Cope with Annoying Co-Workers

6 Productive Ways to Cope with Annoying Co-Workers
Credit: racorn/Shutterstock

If you work 40-plus hours a week, chances are you're with your co-workers more than your loved ones. Because of this, co-workers can make or break a job. A great team member can make the worst job bearable, but an annoying one can make going into the best workplaces dreadful.

According to a report by Olivet Nazarene University, 100 percent of the 2,000 respondents said they get annoyed with their co-workers. Roxy Fata, content strategist at Digital Third Coast, said the reason most people are annoyed with their co-workers is because we spend so much time at work.

"We spend nearly half of our lives at work, and with the complexities of human nature, things are bound to get difficult," she said. "Whether we're dealing with issues directly related to work or bringing problems at home to work, when there's constant interaction between people, we can't always keep things peaceful, despite our best intentions."

However, Fata said that co-workers are like family: "We can't necessarily pick who we work with, so we have to learn to live with them."

Here's how to keep the peace – and your sanity – in the workplace when dealing with irritating colleagues. [Toxic Co-Worker Test: How to Identify and Avoid Them]

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, an author and career coach, said it's a good idea to see if you can figure out what specific behavior annoys you. You may be able to come up with a plan to remedy it. In a Careerealism blog post, Tannahill-Moran recounted her experience with a co-worker who made all types of demands during her day, and she found it frustrating.

"I finally realized she didn't really understand my job versus her job since she was kind of new," Tannahill-Moran wrote. "Knowing that helped me figure out a plan to curb her impact on me, but you can't fix something until you know exactly what you are fixing."

According to the Olivet survey, people typically react in a rash manner when they are dealing with an annoying co-worker, such as involving the entire office or publicly shaming the co-worker.

"Tactics such as confronting people through another colleague and using shame and aggression often fail to bring about any type of resolution," Fata told Business News Daily. "Instead, a more productive approach would be to address the issue for a calm place."

She suggested going to human resources. Sitting down with HR tends to have more lasting results than other methods seen in the workplace, she said.

If you're continually butting heads with a specific colleague, you should try to find a common interest with that person, said Heather Huhman, a career and workplace expert. Try to find at least one thing you can talk about – even if it's just the dislike of the break room coffee. This will make working together more tolerable, she said.

If the issue with your co-worker involves them constantly pestering you with non-work items, Huhman said to diplomatically turn them away.

"Whenever your annoying co-worker begins distracting you from your work, politely tell them to respect your space and to only speak to you if their question is work-related," she wrote in a Glassdoor blog post.  

If you want to solve the issue once and for all, a direct approach is best. Fata said that issues with co-workers can have you heading for the door. Before you consider leaving the company, you should confront your co-worker.

"Work with human resources or a manager to effectively find a solution. The sooner it is resolved, the better the chances of improving your work environment," Fata said.

You might think the co-worker who's constantly bugging you is doing it on purpose, but chances are they're not aware of their impact on you. Huhman recommended maintaining a positive attitude around that person.

"The best thing you can do in this situation is to let the annoying things your co-worker does roll off your back," she wrote. "[Dwelling] on the negative ... can distract you from being productive. At the end of the day, it's up to you to stay focused on what you need to accomplish and to have a positive attitude at work."

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks and Marci Martin. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Saige Driver

Saige Driver graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She started her career at a radio station in Indiana, and is currently a B2B staff writer at Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.