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the pith helmet

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Published on 10/12/2000

Dear Pith Helmet,

What is the best way to deal with annoying co-workers?

Sincerely,
Disturbed in DC

Dear Disturbed,

Without having more specifics, I can say that there are a couple of things that you can do to deal with annoying co-workers. The first thing to do would be to ignore them. I know, it sounds cheesy, but often times just not dealing is the best thing to do. Are they actively annoying? If so, then, as your mother always told you in grade school, they're just trying to get attention, and if you ignore them, it won't be fun for them any more. Your mother also told you to eat your brussel sprouts, too, so what the hell does she know?

Maybe they don't know that they're being annoying. That's a trickier situation. Even if you would be just as happy if your co-workers would just shrivel up and blow away, you should still maintain some semblance of decorum. That's because, as they are co-workers, you are in a work environment, and you do have to see them every day. Which is part of the problem. But it's not going to make things any better by telling them that they're morons. Especially if they go and tattle on you to the boss.

See how much the business world is like elementary school? That's what I've discovered in my dealings in the so-called "professional" world. Everyone is a jerk, people call each other names, and there's always that one kid who smells funny. Also, people don't know how to use toilets correctly and someone inevitably ends up peeing on the floor. You can't figure out how that happened, just that it did. I mean, I worked in an office building on Wall Street, and I would routinely find the bathrooms an utter mess. Go figure.

But getting back to your problem of annoying co-workers, you could try to form strategic alliances with the other people in the office. That way you can make fun of the annoying people behind their backs without any real repercussions. It's especially good if you can get the boss on your side on this one.

If you think that's a bit too juvenile, you can just try the straight forward approach which, I've found, actually works sometimes. Go right up to the person (or people) who are giving you trouble and say "Excuse me, would you mind not clipping your toenails over my cubicle wall every afternoon?" Believe it or not, they just might not have realized what they were doing.

If none of those things work, I'm afraid you're just going to have to get them fired. Or quit. Depending on how much you like your job.


An excellent article! And yes, so very true!!
Posted by joe on 06-14-2002 14:19


Thanks for the funny yet helpful article. I have had very similar thoughts!
I have asked around the office if anyone knows if they sell speedbumps for tennis shoes. I would set up an installment payment ASAP to get a coworker to settle down a bit over here.
Posted by Christine on 03-03-2004 17:33


Dear Pith Helmet,

I read this questions and your response to the questions posted answering Disturbed in DC's question on how to deal with annoying co-workers. I'd like to revisit this question. This a general question and isn't directed to any specific ethnic, racial, or religious group.

About 14 months ago my firm, a bottle manufacturer, hired a Chinese Woman from China who has worked in China and Korea. Ever since she has started at our compnay, my life is a living hell. We both work in the purchasing department, and we have cubicles close together without walls. She short, and her eyes always peer over the cubicle.

She's the most annoying person I've ever worked with. she clears her throat literally 50 to 100 timnes a day. She talks to herself and answers herself. I never know if she's talking on the phone, talking to me, and to herself, she palys her voice mailk out loud, she says every cliche in the book, including like Latka from Taxi,, "Thank you very much".

The firm loves her, she been promoted, she sits in all the top level management meetings, is always praised given kudos, even thought she stutters and can't articulate anything at a meeting.

Bessides quitting which I want to do everyday, is there any way to handle this woman? Is it too late to talk to her about her annoying habits without being fired for insubordination? Any recommendations, suggestions, or referrals to get help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Posted by Ed J. on 09-18-2006 00:54


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