November 15, 2010
The theme of my conversations this week seemed to be annoying coworkers. I spoke to a number of friends and family members who were all frustrated because of the actions of their coworkers.
“I am so annoyed at him,” one person said. “I can not believe she did that,” said another. “Why does he have such a bad attitude?” exclaimed still another. Amongst their complaints were: the over-controller, the perfectionist, the lack-of-communicator, and the interferer. Do you work with these types of coworkers too?
After hearing their complaints, I thought it would be worthwhile for others to hear the tips I shared in dealing with annoying coworkers:
Avoid the coworker – Easier said then done! If you do not have to work closely with the individual, avoid interaction. Go to lunch at a different time; send emails instead of talking face to face, etc. This will allow you to avoid stressful interaction situations. However, this first tip is usually impractical because of how closely people work in teams these days. On to other tips…
Benefit of the doubt – Give your annoying coworker the benefit of the doubt, they might not know they are annoying. Most people have blind spots that others can see but they do not. I call these blind spots the “you have spinach in your teeth, your slip is showing and your fly is open.” If you knew any one of these things you would fix it, right?
Understand motives – Most people do not wake up in the morning thinking “I plan to make my coworkers miserable today.” People behave based on their needs not your needs. The person who is over-controlling might feel very insecure. The perfectionist might be worried about mistakes that will reflect badly on them. The lack-of-communicator probably only needs limited information himself so he thinks everyone is like him. The interferer might be trying to be helpful.
Provide feedback – Feedback is best given when you are calm. Think about how you can “hold a mirror” up to your coworker’s behavior so they can see what you see. Keep your statements professional, non-judgmental indicating the business impact. Example, “I see that you redid that report I finished yesterday. I feel like I can learn from your experience but only if I get to do it myself. The next time, can you please just coach me through the changes and let me try it?”
Put any two plus people together for eight hours a day and you are bound to find things that drive you crazy about each other. With mutual respect and understanding I am confident that everyone can find a common ground to get along.