How irritating!

7 ways to deal with an annoying colleague

JAXenter Editorial Team
Annoyed image via Shutterstock

How do you deal with the coworkers that get on your nerves? Some advice featured over on the Oracle blog has suggested that we take the high road, draw boundaries or practice the fine art of emotional detachment.

The way they talk, the way they work, or perhaps its the way they smell that bothers you? Either way, working with some colleagues doesn’t always come easy, but you cannot escape the fact that you’ve got to work together. So what do you do when there’s work to do, but your co-worker is just so annoying?

Conflicts on a professional level can happen every day, with meetings usually organised to find a solution to disagreements. But if the conflict takes place on a personal level and thus relates to the character of the other person, there’s no straightforward way to solve the dilemma. Who’s brave enough to tell their coworker, face to face, that they’re annoying? Taking that route isn’t always the best choice.

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In fact, you spend so much time at work that you’ll have to cope with annoying colleagues anyhow, so Alexa Anghel has shared her thoughts on the Oracle blog and compiled seven tips to help you deal with the irritating colleagues in your life.

Strength can be found in serenity

Many recognise that coworker who’s determined to deliver snarky answers and rude comments throughout the workday. Before you go on the offensive and match their insults one for one, Anghel recommends a few deep breaths. Is it worth the fight? Or has this guy just had a bad day? Does it make sense to criticise  behaviour that you can’t change? Anghel suggests that we instead control our own behaviour and overlook the minor blip.


In general, the feelings that you have for a person can be divided into three categories: positive, negative and neutral. If you cannot bring yourself to have sympathy for a colleague, Anghel advises that you try and adopt a neutral standpoint and to not immediately fall into negatively judging another person.

Negative emotions rob energy and gossiping in the work kitchen can also take its toll. Sometimes reputations can rely on this stance so the motto of “be like Switzerland – neutral” seems appropriate.

Empathise with the other person

Do you have a coworker who complains constantly about their work and is generally stressed? Does this annoy you because you’re hearing it every day? Try to put yourself in their shoes: Why do they feel this way? What kind of tasks are involved in the project that you yourself don’t need to complete? Anghel suggests following this simple, yet effective method:

You’ll be surprised how many new perspectives a simple game of role play can bring.

Just ignore them

Sometimes it helps to just ignore things by practicing “the fine art of emotional detachment”. Anghel suggests that you protect yourself by not taking things personally and drawing a clear line between work-appropriate and private feelings.

Draw boundaries

There are certain topics, be they political, religious or controversial for you, that can always get a little heated. But if you’ve got a colleague that tends to deliver tasteless comments in reply to certain subjects, then your attempt at neutrality would naturally reach its limit here.

If one perceives the repeated jokes and comments as a transgression, then for the sake of your own peace of mind, point it out to the offending party politely but firmly.

Maybe expecting too much?

Your coworker’s suggestions about moving forward with the project are on the opposite side of the spectrum to yours. This irritates you since you’re thinking, “Don’t we have the same goal?!” but you need to remember to check your expectations of those around you.

It’s only natural that others will approach problems and solutions differently. To expect your coworkers to think the same way as you do isn’t realistic.

Observe others

If you’re really stuck with how to deal with said annoying colleague, then take a look at how others deal with them. Maybe you can observe a few things you’d never considered, since the source of the problem might be the way you communicate with them in the first place.

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The tips that Anghel has suggested already require a lot of energy – after all, you don’t want to deal with unpleasant colleagues if it’s at all possible. But labelling the above as “tips” could seem somehow counterintuitive if the recommendation is to merely put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

There is a point of the blog post that is crucial, however: Unfortunately, you cannot change the other person, but you can change the way you react and accommodate them.

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