Five Tips to Manage an Annoying Co-Worker

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Published March 20, 2012

| FOXBusiness

Small offices are notorious for close quarters, which often times, can create an environment where co-workers become annoying. From the loud talker to the food stealer, here are five of the most annoying office habits and how to deal with them.

The Loud Talker

Etiquette experts agree by far that the most common annoying habit is the co-worker that lacks volume control. “It’s worse in a small office since people are sitting on top of each other,” says Peter Post, author of Essential Manners For Men.

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Dealing with the loud talker can be easy, especially since they probably don’t realize their voice goes up ten decibels as soon as they pick up the phone.  Post says to wait until the offender is off the phone and then tell them privately that it’s hard for you to concentrate when their voice gets louder. If the perpetrator gets defensive or can’t seem to lower their volume, then it may be time to either ask to move or take the problem to a supervisor.

Social Time In The Office

Rightly or wrongly within a small business office setting, cliques tend to form. Having office friendships is fine, but what can be annoying is if you aren’t part of that clique and the group is gathering near your work area.  “When people tend to gather in certain areas of the office it can be completely disruptive for the co-workers,” says Richie Frieman, an etiquette expert and the Modern Manners Guy blogger.  Just like with the loud talker, Frieman says to basically tell your co-workers, though in a very nice way, to “shut up.” One effective tactic is to tell your co-workers you are on deadline and need a few minutes of quiet to get the work done. Don’t come off gruff because that may just make the situation worse.

The Cubicle Invader

Your cubicle or desk is basically your home away from home. And just like you would find it annoying if someone just walked through your front door, same goes for the cubicle invader. This is the co-worker that will mosey up to your work space, plop down on your extra chair or lean against your desk and drone on about this or that. “The person who won’t leave your cube or doorway is the most annoying thing in the world if you can’t get back to work,” says Frieman.

A way to combat the cubicle invader is to create an uninviting environment in your workspace. Put your bag on the extra chair or make sure papers are covering any surface your co-worker may sit on.  If the cubicle invader still doesn’t get the hint, a sure fire way to get them out of your area is to say you are expecting a call.  You can even pick up the phone to send the message.

The Food Stealer

Most small offices have a shared kitchen and often times, people will bring their lunch to work. Nothing can be more annoying than going to get your lunch out of the refrigerator only to find it’s gone.  While you may not know who the thief is, there is a way to get the message out that you know your food is being heisted. According to Post, the best way to handle this problem is to leave a note on the refrigerator and on your food. “Another thing you can do is bring your lunch in a thermos or lunch box and give up on the refrigerator,” says Post.

Smelly Food Eater

If you are in an office setting where most people eat their lunch or snacks at their desk, then it’s likely you’ve encountered the co-worker that insists on making popcorn at 9:00 a.m. or heats up last night’s fish dinner at lunchtime. Handling the co-worker that insists on bringing in smelly food takes tact. If the person is doing it in a cafeteria, then you’ll just have to suck it up and eat at a different time or someplace else. But according to Donna Flagg, author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations, if it’s in the office,then you have every right to complain to the offender. “You can go up to the person and say can you do me a favor and eat that someplace else because its make me nauseous,” says Flagg.  The last thing you want to do is offend the person by saying your food stinks, she says.

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