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How to rob co-workers of their power to annoy

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Q: “For three years, I have been stuck with an irritating co-worker who loves to aggravate me. Although I try to hold my tongue, I can’t seem to stop myself from responding to her personal digs. I’ve told her numerous times to leave me alone, but to no avail.

“My boss says I’m too sensitive and that I should just ‘suck it up.’ I tried complaining to Human Resources, but they were no help. Quitting my job isn’t possible, so what can I do?” Harassed

A: Actually, you seem to have answered your own question. You can’t quit, go to HR, or seek help from your boss. You’ve already tried asking her to stop, and you certainly can’t change her annoying personality. The only remaining option seems to be learning to live with her.

The secret to tolerating pesky co-workers is emotional detachment. As long as you provide the reaction she is hoping for, this woman will continue to provoke you. But if you can convince yourself that her words have no importance, you will immediately take away her power.

People often complain about their co-workers. To see if you might be annoying someone, take this Quick Quiz: Do You Annoy Your Co-workers?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

nakato catherine October 22, 2014 at 2:51 am

thanks for the articles i have really gained from some of them especially on office management


Michelle September 15, 2014 at 10:15 am

Go back to HR and ask to speak to someone else, perhaps a manager or director, until someone hears you. This is a form of bullying, and it needs to be addressed. Also, document everything – dates, times, exact words/actions.


Theresa Kasel September 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Although I do agree with you, Michelle, the LW doesn’t really give much of an example of what this co-worker does that aggravates him. Does she ask him how his weekend was, tell him about her grandkids, share her extreme political opinions — general co-worker chat. Or, is she really exhibit harassment behavior (asking about his *** life, sharing her *** life, etc.) or just constantly chatting so he can’t get work done?

One he just needs to learn to deal with — “I had a nice weekend and I hope you did, too. I have a lot of work do to do — so please excuse me.” Go back to work.

If it’s in the latter category, then HR and his manager should be concerned.


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