7 Tips for Handling Annoying Coworkers

By Jeff Michaels

November 4, 2014   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

If getting up at the crack of dawn, fighting for the hot water in the shower, then spending hours in traffic only to arrive at a job you despise wasn’t bad enough, many of us have to deal with yet another factor when it comes to getting through our workday with some level of sanity: other coworkers.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the world is happy, and often their negativity can cause us high levels of stress. If you are struggling to maintain your sanity in a workplace filled with coworkers who may be annoying, depressing, or downright rude to you, below are seven tips to make your 9-5 a little more bearable.

1.Keep Calm. Those little signs reminding you to Keep Calm and Carry On are worth their weight in gold. Believe it or not, there is only one person who decides if an annoying coworker has any effect on you or your job—that’s you. By choosing to not give any energy to this person or group of people, you can reduce the amount of stress they may be causing you. Practice taking a deep breath anytime someone does something that bothers you, and remind yourself to keep calm.

2.Relocate. While it might not be possible to up and move to another division away from those that are making your life miserable, you might be able to relocate your cubicle with relative ease. Putting in a request with the facilities department to move might seem like a lot of work at first, but peace of mind has no price.

3.Work from home. If moving your location is an impossibility, consider working from home one or two days a week. Most companies who aren’t still in the dark ages allow employees to telecommute, and this can be a great way to avoid the stress caused by your coworkers. Have a discussion with your boss, and see if he or she will approve your request. (Of course, if your boss is the one annoying you, best not to mention that.)

4.Try a different schedule. If you typically come in at 8AM and leave at 5PM, you’re likely subject to the same daily routines as everyone else–meaning you’ll likely be cranky right before lunch, and then again mid-afternoon when the collective blood sugar of the office drops… which is when your equally cranky coworkers can do the most harm to your psyche. Play around with coming in earlier, or staying later in the evening. You might find the office a much happier place after everyone has left.

5.Dress in power suits. It’s a known fact that red is a power color. Often wearing a red tie or red scarf during an interview can help you feel more confident about getting the job. Likewise, wearing a sharp suit can make you feel powerful, and in control in the workplace. Your coworkers might think twice before approaching you with boring jokes, and might even stop harassing you all together.

6.Kill Them with Kindness. Maybe you’ve tried everything you can think of to avoid your coworkers. They say keep your enemies close, and this just might be the play you need here. Bring in home-baked muffins. Pick up a dozen donuts. Bring in a cake when it’s not even someone’s birthday. Your coworkers might start to soften up, and treat you with a lot more respect.

7.If all else fails, Send Them to Siberia. Comprised of the frigid lands of eastern Russia, Siberia is the uppermost region of Asia, north of China. It also happened to be the place I was destined to be shipped away to as a young, mischievous child. For naughty children of the world, Siberia remains a very real threat. For any coworker creating a problem in your office, sending them to Siberia will certainly straighten out their behavior. However, corporate travel can be pricey. A more reasonable approach may be to locate the most remote conference room in your office, and replace the name on the door with a printed sign that reads SIBERIA. Make sure the conference has no heat, no phone, no coffee, no internet connection, and glaring overhead florescent lights. If you can rename the room in Outlook or your company’s online reservation system, even better. The next time a coworker does something to annoy you, move their meeting to Siberia. A few hours in exile and they’ll never bother you again.

Hopefully these seven tips will help you to gain a little more control over your workday, and make your 9-5 a lot more enjoyable.

Jeff Michaels

Jeff Michaels has been featured on NPR, Chicago Tribune, and his first book was voted a “Top 12 Book to Chill Out To” by MORE Magazine. His new book: Please Hug Me—I’m an Office Monkey is out

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