With co-workers like this …

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

by Morey Stettner

When I worked for an insurance company years ago, the guy in the next cubicle would wander into my office, sit down and stare at me. He’d do this once or twice a week.

At first, I thought something was wrong. But I soon realized he wanted to shoot the breeze.

For him, procrastination meant dragging me into his lethargic “no work zone.” That was bad enough. But he had nothing to say. He expected me to instigate a long, time-consuming conversation. Eventually, I told him (nicely) to leave me alone.

I’ve been thinking about this guy after a recent chat with a manager about all the maddening behavior in the workplace. Our co-workers can drive us crazy with their idiosyncrasies.

Another manager told me about an office mate who talks to himself and grunts loudly every few minutes. He’ll repeatedly sigh and mutter, “Not again” or “Another problem.”

If you share a cramped workspace, your colleague’s bad habits can peel away at your sanity. Whether your co-worker grunts, clucks his tongue, plays loud music or makes too many personal phone calls, you may wish you could transport yourself to another galaxy where you could concentrate on your work.

Sure, you can try the direct approach. But no matter how politely you broach the subject, your peer may take offense or fail to comply with your reasonable request.

Because we must pick our battles, there’s only so much we can do when someone gets on our nerves. Do we complain to the boss if the annoying behavior continues? Do we pack up and move offices? Do you grin and bear it? There are no easy answers.

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