Dealing With Annoying Coworkers

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Do your coworkers’ habits drive you nuts?

You know… copy machine hogs, loudmouthed office mates, secret bathroom smokers, the office whiner. The Gossip… or the infamous lunch stealer?!
Every office has them – people with habits that get under your skin.
Most of the time the offenses are harmless and soon forgotten.
But in some cases an all-out war can result.
Quarreling over minor grievances is usually unwise, especially since we may pay a high price in terms of credibility when we fixate on small problems.
We run the risk of getting a reputation for being a constant complainer and nitpicker.
But if two circumstances are present you need to do something about the problem.
First, is the behavior is affecting your work in some way?
I think this is the most important rule because if the behavior is not stopped it will make you look bad in the end and possibly cause the loss of your job.
The second is that if it is just too irritating to forget.
And I mean really irritating to you and your office colleagues. If those two conditions exist, use this technique to handle things.
Start keeping track of the number of times per week the person does the offending behavior. If you find the behavior is just occasional, the best course is to try to cope with it instead of complaining. You don’t want to get a reputation as “not a team player” or a constant whiner.
If the problem surfaces frequently, however, approach the offender in a neutral, open way without using critical language.  Be sure to pick your time and place. It’s best not to do it on a frantically hectic day or in front of coworkers.
Let him know that you want to talk about something that is important to you. Use a “When” statement that goes like this. “When you use up most of the time at the copier, it causes the rest of us to fall behind in our work schedules.  What kind of copier use agreement can we make that will be fair to everyone?”
This accomplished two things:
it states the problem in a non-blaming way and asks for his help in the solution of the problem.
Of course you can always offer your own solution, but you will get more “buy in” if you include the offender in the solution. You may have to ask more than once because it is difficult to get people to change their behavior.
And when they finally do change, be sure to give them lots of positive reinforcement in the form of praise and thanks. “Bob, we really appreciate you following the guidelines for copier use. It has helped all of us be more productive” would be an example of some of the praise you should use. Remember that what gets positively reinforced gets repeated.
When the offender is a higher up, it’s best to approach the matter indirectly. Suggest a meeting to discuss ways to improve overall efficiency. Start with a few changes you’d like to make in your own behavior; then politely mention the effect of your boss’s irritating habit on your productivity. For example, if your boss frequently interrupts you with changes before a project is finished, you may want to say something like, “ I do my best work if I complete a first draft of a project before starting on changes and revisions. In the future, could I show you a complete version, then set a specific time to discuss second-draft ideas?

trevina broussard head shotAbout Trevina Broussard

I share valuable Customer Service tips and insights for frontline managers and employees on how to deliver customer service to keep your customer coming back. The name of the game is customer loyalty and it’s not just about satisfaction. It’s about a willingness to be a repeat buyer, willingness to recommend you to others, and resistance to switching to a competitor. Fortunately I learned this lesson through my 15-year corporate career. Poor service is an all-too-frequent experience for us all. I provide a framework for implementing ongoing processes that can build customer loyalty.