How To Deal With Annoying Coworkers: (9 Effective Strategies)

Today you’re going to learn how to deal with annoying coworkers.

Annoying people can show up in many different forms. Some do all the talking, cutting people off and talking over others, never actually listening. Some are lazy, messy, or unreliable.

And others just have to get the last word into every conversation.

Difficult co-workers may constantly demean what you say and try to make you look bad, while striving for power and the boss’s attention.

We are often placed in the situation where we have to deal with annoying and challenging people, and having to interact with these people can lead to stress and anxiety, and drastically affect your mood.

If you’re working with anyone long enough, you are sure to encounter some conflict as
you find a difference of opinion. If you don’t deal with the situation, it will most likely get worse.

Difficult people can be especially tough to deal with effectively, if your self-confidence and self-esteem are low.

The more you build these, the easier you’ll find handling the situations you might find yourself in.

So let’s look at a few strategies for dealing with these situations effectively.

How To Deal With Annoying Coworkers:

The most important thing is to…

1. Keep your cool

And not be reactive no matter how animated the annoying person may be.

By practising self-control, you can avoid escalating the encounter, and will be able to use your better judgement to diffuse the situation appropriately.

If you feel your blood boiling and think you’re about to burst, try taking a deep breath and counting to ten. This small amount of time can really help your emotion settle enough to stop an outburst.

No matter how senior we may be in an organisation or where we sit in the pecking order, we are all influenced by an emotionally-driven brain.

The effect of this is that when we are in a conflict or perceive danger, the brain releases adrenalin and cortisol, which cause the body to be hyped for a fight or flight response.

Our ability to analyse subjectively, think clearly, and respond calmly are completely compromised.

Another great diffusing tactic is to…

2. Shift the focus back on the difficult person.

Often these people will be pointing the finger at you, in an attempt to make you feel belittled and inadequate.

Their entire emphasis will be to blame you and your behaviour, pointing out the problem without providing any constructive solutions.

This stance is purely from a position of wanting to exert control and dominance over you.

If your response is defensive, you are only giving the annoying person the upper hand and letting them feel power and control over you.

An effective tactic to shift the focus and equalise power in the exchange, is to ask constructive questions.

Keeping calm and directing the focus to what that person might consider to be an effective solution, will direct your response to a proactive one rather than reactive or defensive.

This strategy can really neutralise their dominance over you, by redirecting the conversation, and you are attempting to take the lead for part of the exchange.

3. Use active listening

When you’re not asking them questions in return, actively listening to the annoying person’s tirade will set the scene for you to take control in the coming moments.

If you zone out and appear to not be giving them your attention, they will only press harder and more aggressively while pointing fingers at you.

Using good active listening will show that you fully understand what they believe is a drastic issue, and then you’re in a position to take control and look for a solution.

Active listening involves:

  • Actually listening to their words, rather than cutting them off or disagreeing mid-sentence
  • Nodding your head to acknowledge that you understand what they are saying
  • After they’ve made their point, repeat back the gist of what they said, from their point. Obviously this can come across sounding stupid, so you need to use a bit of common sense to summarise what they’re getting at as you address their complaint
  • And again, ask questions to show that you’ve been listening.

After applying these techniques, the difficult person will be more likely to feel that they’ve been heard and that it hasn’t gone in one ear and out the other.

That way, you’re in a better position to shift the power of the conversation and put the spotlight back on them.

SEE ALSO: How To Get Promoted At Work: 10 Best Advices On Job Success

4. Be extremely mindful of your body language.

An interesting statistic to keep in mind here, is that only 7% of communication are the words that you’re saying; 38% is made up of your tone of voice and expression, while 55% is your body language.

A quick way to further anger a annoying person, is to display body language that says you don’t even want to hear their problem. Try to face them, while keeping your arms open.

Being closed up with arms crossed can show that you are not open to their point of view (1). Being curled up and facing away can display a lack of confidence in yourself – giving off the vibe of a weaker person.

Think predator vs. prey with these difficult people, but rather than fighting, you’re using subtle communication techniques to shift the power of the conversation and ultimately disarm them.

5. Separate the person and the issue

Now in some situations, you may initially have a great relationship with the person in question, but they are being annoying over a specific issue.

There are two factors that make up a conversation: The topic being discussed, and the relationship between the people having the discussion.

Not being able to separate the two can lead to conflict and a breakdown in the relationship.

By separating the person from the issue and keeping it from being personal, you will have a better chance of encouraging cooperation and keeping the respect of that friend.

And always keep in mind – you may be your difficult person’s difficult person…

6. Learn from the experience

As these techniques are essentially communication tools (because we’re discussing how to deal with and diffuse annoying people, not punch their face in, right?) – it is extremely beneficial to take each one of these difficult situations and turn it into a learning experience.

This way you are fine tuning your skills at handling these situations and will become more adept in the long run.

As exhausting as it may be trying to deal with a difficult person, asking yourself “what can I learn and take away from this experience” will help you gain at least one positive outlook from the encounter.

7. Use humour to diffuse

One of my favourites, which can be EXTREMELY effective if used well and by the right person, is to inject some appropriately placed humour into an exchange with a annoying person.

By not being reactive, but finding a humorous side to the conflict, you are able to show
detachment from the issue, and help to disarm the emotion of the other person.

Of course, using inappropriate humour can have the opposite effect, so tread carefully.

Humour really is a powerful communication tool, which can bring out the truth and opinions, while remaining cool, calm, and collected.

SEE ALSO: How To Be a Good Employee: 15 Hacks for Blowing Your Boss’ Mind

8. Handling a bully

If your difficult person is somewhat of a bully, this can relate back to your self-confidence.

Bullies will tend to target people who they see as being weaker, and without much self-confidence; you may be displaying a weak exterior to those around you.

Keep in mind that bullies are generally cowards and weak on the inside themselves, displaying a strong, over compensated exterior to make up for their shortfalls.

Often when someone stands up to a bully and exerts confidence, the bully will back down.

The important thing to keep in mind is that their reaction and behaviour is usually about them, far more than it is about you or anything you’ve done.

If you can manage to have empathy for the bully, you are opening your perspective on the situation, and have far better judgement in what to do next.

Compassion is an attribute of the strong and evolved, and it allows us to see deeper inside an issue and the person involved.

Here’s a quote from Tom Hiddleston to keep in mind: “When people don’t like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first.”

9. Walk away if necessary

Of course, there are many times and situations where all the techniques in the world may not be of any assistance. In these instances, you may just have to walk away if necessary.

Don’t sabotage your career (2), but completely walking away and having as little to with that person is an option.

Sometimes these people can drag you down with them into negativity, and there’s nothing wrong with removing yourself from this environment.

Dealing with these people can leave you exhausted, and carry over to your home life. In this case, it’s not about winning an exchange, but removing yourself from that toxic environment.

Being adept at dealing with annoying people is really an exercise in mastering the art of communication.

By developing these techniques, you will find that many annoying people have less of an effect on you, and you stand to exert your own dominance and confidence, with less stress and better relationships with the people around you.

You are on your way to being the change, and greater success in life. These are the strategies of leaders!

Thank you for reading this article about how to deal with annoying coworkers and I really hope that you take action my advice.

I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here