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What to Do When Your Co-workers Drive You Crazy

Skills |

Starting a new job or even a new position within the same company can create an enormous amount of stress. You already are concerned with performing to the best of your ability, which is not always easy when you are navigating a new terrain.

When I trained for a new position last summer, I was excited about joining a new team and learning a new skill set. It was frustrating at times, but before I left training I felt that I was ready to take it all on. Bursting with excitement and enthusiasm, I joined my new team and my new manager.

My optimism was hit head on with an insane new co-worker and a micro-manager boss. During the first week, I began to question myself and my own ability to perform. My new co-worker was loud and outspoken to the point where I was unable to hear others around me. My day consisted of multiple emails from my boss highlighting new expectations and new demands. I started to feel completely and utterly defeated. I was working in a completely opposite environment from before and felt overwhelmed.

Dorie Clark, who runs a strategy consulting firm, argues that this is the greatest opportunity for growth. She states that, “Any time you find yourself up against co-workers who frustrates you, that person is telling you that you’re at the limits of your competence,” she says. “That’s why you’re frustrated – because you don’t know how to deal with them.”

Typically when someone is pushing you, your instinct is to push right back. This approach hardly resolves anything.

Annoying coworkers

Instead, Clark points out the best way to solve the issue is to change your approach with these co-workers. Here’s how:

1. Take a step back and take a breath. Going for a quick walk is a good way to remove yourself while at the same time giving you some space to think.

2. Write down what happened. What did that outspoken co-worker say specifically that provoked you?

3. Now make a plan of action. Once you understand how you are feeling, you can begin to problem-solve. It’s easy to gloss over a situation and make an accusation to the other person’s behavior, such as, “He must be yelling because he is widely inconsiderate.”

Being able to evaluate the situation allows time to remove yourself from the cycle that you are caught in. Instead of sulking in the corner be assertive!  Ask your co-worker if he realizes how loud his voice actually is when talking to others. In my case, he actually didn’t, and made a conscientious effort to make a change for the better.

You spend a considerable amount of time at work and with your co-workers. Don’t let things get you riled up. Overcome your own frustration and learn to rise above it. Not only does it make your work life bearable, but you may end up making a great work friend and ally in the end.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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THANK YOU so much for this advice! Although I heard someone give me that advice before, I never really "listened". Reading it here now again I feel like something clicked inside my head. Since I'm in a situation like that now, I really needid this. So, thank you :)


"Being able to evaluate the situation allows time to remove yourself from the cycle that you are caught in."


Carly Heitlinger

AMAZING advice!!!!

Jennifer Bailey

Jennifer is a west coast writer from Vancouver B.C. She has her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of British Columbia. She is an avid dragon boater, hiker, and craft beer enthusiast. On her blog, “When I’m Not Chasing The Rabbit” she writes reminders on the importance of taking time to enjoy the small things, and not being consumed by the machine of life. You can follow her on twitter @jennbaylee.