8 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People at Work

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Guides - 3 years ago

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Have you ever had a coworker who annoyed so much that you wanted to rip your hair out and scream? You’re not alone. At some point or another, we’ve all encountered that one coworker who makes going to work a complete nightmare, even if it happens to be our dream job.

Maybe this person is super passive aggressive, they never get their work done on time, or maybe they’re just flat-out smelly and obnoxious. It’s hard to avoid these people, especially when you work with them on a daily basis — unless you quit, which just isn’t a likely solution.

So what’s the good news?

Even though obnoxious coworkers are everywhere, there are things you can do to address the situation, and, ideally, make your coworkers address their annoying behavior.

Here are 8 tips to help you deal with an annoying coworker:

1. Don’t lose your cool

Even though a difficult or annoying coworker can really grind your gears, you should always control your emotions and refrain from losing your temper. Reacting to a difficult coworker in a harsh or otherwise unprofessional way won’t make the situation any better, plus, no one will listen to you if you sound like a big whiny baby.

Take a deep breath and just face the fact that you’re going to have to deal with this person in one way or another. If your pain-in-the-ass coworker sees that you’re cool, calm, and collected despite their irritating behavior, there’s a good chance they’ll be more inclined to respect you.

2. Try to figure out where they’re coming from

Aside from a small amount of people who are a special, unique brand of ass hats, most people are not difficult just for the sake of being difficult.

Instead of going into a fit of rage, remove yourself from the situation. Ask yourself, “Why are they acting like this?” Surely they’re not out to get you, and there could be an underlying reason for their behavior.

Maybe they’re going through a hard time at home and end up taking out their frustrations on their coworkers. Maybe they’re insecure, which is why it takes them a few days to complete a project.

Try to be understanding instead of angry, and see if you can find a way to help meet their needs and resolve the problem. It’s much more productive than getting mad and being passive aggressive.

3. Get a second opinion

If one person in your office is driving you nuts, try to get some perspective from others. Your coworkers and friends have most likely dealt with a similar situation, and they could offer a unique perspective and give you advice on how to handle the situation.

Share your story and seek advice. But a word of caution: don’t talk about your annoying coworker to everyone and their mother at your office. That’s a quick and easy way to be labeled as the office gossip, and that’s just not a good look.

Discretion is key. Remember, you’re looking for advice, not trying to shit-talk someone out of the office.

4. Talk it out

If you can’t find ways to deal with your annoying coworker on your own, you might want to try to approach them in a friendly and respecting manner, and ideally find a solution to the problem at hand.

Mention specific examples of times that made you feel frustrated, and share how these moments affected your productivity. If you feel comfortable, offer your support to help resolve an issue or to vent. You could say something along the lines of,

“I know this was not your intention, but [specific annoying coworker behavior] made me feel uncomfortable, which in turn made it difficult for me to finish my work for the day. If you’re having a hard time I would be glad to help you find ways to complete a project, or I would happy to lend an ear if you need to vent.”

Sometimes people are completely oblivious that their behavior is annoying others. Being able to effectively communicate will really come in handy when working with others.

5. Let them know how you’re feeling

When you approach your coworker about their insufferable behavior, you should try to make them aware of your feelings.

Rather than being accusatory and coming off as difficult yourself, making your coworker aware of your side of the situation may get them on-board to address their actions much easier.

6. Give respect to get respect

No matter how awful and irritating and annoying this person is, you should always treat them with respect. Talking to your coworker as if they’re stupid or incompetent is never going to yield positive results.

Plus, they’ll probably treat you with the same lack of respect, and they might even take measures to further annoy you specifically — and that will just make your situation a whole lot worse.

7. Just ignore them ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If one of your coworkers is driving you crazy but you can’t muster up the guts to approach them about it, you can always just try ignoring them! Just focus on your tasks and only interact with them if you absolutely have to.

This can present a special challenge if your jerk coworker is someone who you have to work with on a regular basis, which brings us to our last tip:

8. Take it up with your supervisor

If your awful coworker isn’t willing to listen to reason and it’s impossible for you to ignore them, you might want to address the issue with your manager.

You should be able to demonstrate to your boss that this person is directly interfering with your productivity, and offer possible solutions. This option should really be used as a last result, otherwise you might be seen as a tattle tale, or that you can’t handle your own problems. But sometimes, it’s really the only effective solution.

Now you’re prepared to deal with your terrible coworker!

Annoying people are everywhere, and you can’t hide from them forever. When someone at work is so obnoxiously frustrating that they’re making it hard for you to be productive, it’s time for you to take matters into your own hands.

Remember to always be polite and respectful when you talk to someone about how annoying they are, and avoid saying things like “You’re so annoying god I freaking hate you.”

With just a little reasoning and an open mind, you can surely prevent someone from getting on your nerves and get back to working to your highest potential.

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