Avoiding the Office Drama: An Ultimate Survival Guide to Dodging 6 Types of Pesky Coworkers

An Ultimate Survival Guide to Dodging 6 Types of Pesky Coworkers

Obnoxious coworkers are everywhere. Here’s how to deal with them.

Developing a rapport with coworkers is vital in the workplace. Positive work relationships can facilitate collaboration, enhance individual productivity, improve employee morale and even increase retention rates. These benefits, however, don’t appear in every office. As you’re reading this article, yours may be an unfortunate one.

Working with obnoxious workers can ruin your career because they can interfere with your concentration. You may even need to put in extra time and effort to formulate strategies to deal with them.

The tussle between you and your irksome coworkers is finally coming to an end, as we identify six types of annoying coworkers and offer tips to deal with them. Read to the end for a bonus tip.

Activity planner

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding workplace burnout lately. As an occupational phenomenon, workplace burnout is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

Activity planners are experts at keeping burnout at bay because they know how to unwind more than anyone else. They’ll take care of restaurant bookings and plan office outings, making sure everyone in the office has a good time. While they may have good intentions, their presence can be off-putting because they can suddenly stroll up to your desk and ask what you want for lunch or if you plan on going to the bar after work.

To deal with them, you can simply say, “That’s so much fun! But I need to check my schedule first. Get back to you later.” There’s always a risk of saying this, as they may approach you repeatedly to confirm if you’re coming. Yet, by stating so, you can buy yourself some time to get work done without interruption.

Constant complainer

If you have ever watched Inside Out, a 2015 Pixar movie centered around the emotional rollercoaster experienced by a young girl named Riley, you should be familiar with Sadness—one of the five personified emotions of Riley. The little blue character is not entirely fictional because you may be working with one or two in your company, albeit with a more straightforward label: constant complainer.

Unlike Sadness, these complainers don’t necessarily cry all the time, but they do complain around the clock about everything—a broken-down printer, a boring meeting or simply terrible weather. To escape that endless wave of negativity surrounding them, try not to talk to them because once the conversation has started, you can expect them to moan and groan incessantly until the very end.

Desk-bomber

Desk bombers approach someone working at their respective desk unexpectedly and make small talk. They are a relatively new trend in the workplace, and opinions on the behavior are divided. Financial news media company Insider interviewed five workers to gauge their views on the behavior. Among the interviewees, three ascribed desk bombing as disruptive, whereas two believed it helped with productivity because face-to-face conversations facilitated quick decision-making. These results are neither representative nor conclusive due to the small sample size, but they explain why desk bombers are infuriating, especially when you’re entirely absorbed in work.

Though desk bombers are annoying, don’t ignore them completely because some just want to get work done. If who you’re dealing with is not one of them, just say you’re on the go and shut down the conversation.

Gossiper

Where there is a group of people, there is a gossiper. As one of the most annoying types of coworkers, gossipers are experts at passing judgment and storytelling. They can make up things from just about anywhere: their “instinct”, “observations” or mere “guesses”. To them, every product from their imagination is true and valuable, and it is their mission to deliver it to you and everyone in the office.

Dealing with gossipers is simple. When they gather and start sounding off, close your ears and leave your seat. Giving yourself a five-minute break in the pantry is a smart idea. Don’t worry about missing anything because what they spread is not what you need to know.

Loud talker

You must have met some loud talkers at some point in your life. While it’s difficult to say if these people have a powerful voice inherently, they certainly don’t know how to control their volume. As a result, wherever these loud talkers roam, they become the source of unwanted noise.

Having loud talkers as coworkers can threaten your productivity because their high-decibel conversations may drive your attention away. The situation worsens when they’re on phone calls or having an online meeting in their seats.

Here are two tips for dealing with loud talkers. First, book a meeting room in your office (if there is one). Locking yourself up in an isolation room may not sound appealing; however, this will patch up your disrupted workflow and give you some quality time to concentrate on your work. 

Of course, you can’t stay in the meeting room all day long because you’re not always working individually, and there must be times when the room is occupied. This is where the second tip comes into play. If you receive a pair of noise-canceling earbuds as a Christmas gift from your boss, make sure you make effective use of them because they will block unwanted noise and help you remain focused.

Over-sharer

While private people tend to shield their business, there’s a group of people who act in complete opposition—the over-sharers. From yesterday’s dinner to this morning’s conversation with the janitor, these generous sharers don’t mind sharing nearly anything. In most cases, they are harmless because all they need is someone who will listen to them. If you’re not interested in learning about their stuff, simply say, “That sounds interesting, but I’m afraid I need to get back to work.”

Dealing with obnoxious coworkers is a crucial step to take to save your professional career. In the end, you need positive work relationships to make your job easier and more enjoyable. So, instead of striking back or acting rude, learn to be forgiving and patient with your coworkers.

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Header image courtesy of Freepik

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