Did you know, almost 2,500 people searched for the term “annoying coworkers” on Google this month?
At least, that’s according to Google’s keywords tool. I stumbled across this fact quite by accident, and I found a few more interesting search terms too – “toxic coworkers”, “ex coworkers” and “dealing with annoying coworkers”, to name a few.
Of course, these gripes are not limited to coworking spaces alone. There is some cross-over between the coworking community we know and love, and the ‘coworker’ that refers to colleagues working alongside each other in the same organisation. Either way, working in close proximity to other people in an office space can – and does – cause friction from time to time. It’s human nature. But many of us are far too reserved to actually address the issue head on, and feel we have to beat around the bush to resolve the problem.
Happily for freelancers and mobile workers using a shared coworking space, the solution is simple: find another desk! But when you’ve got the last seat in the house or you’re working against a tight deadline, there are other ways of dealing with coworkers that get on your mettle. I took Google’s advice and searched for “annoying coworkers”, and had fun reading the results…
Fidgets and Finger Drummers
Everyone vents their energy in different ways. Often, it comes out in little subconscious habits like finger drumming on the desk, fidgeting, biting nails, tapping a foot in the floor… sound familiar? The problem is that once you zone in on someone’s tapping, it’s hard to ignore it. Work.chron.com recommends blocking out hyper-energetic types with headphones, and channelling your own energy into the task at hand.
While you’re at it, remember that these things usually happen on a subconscious level – and you might even have a few annoying vices of your own.
Sickies and Sniffers
There’s nothing worse than sitting next to someone with a horrendous cold. All that coughing, sneezing and sniffing is enough to drive anyone up the nearest wall, let alone the thought of catching their germs. Thegrindstone.com recommends a little sympathy. After all, that person has dragged himself or herself in to get some work done, and they would probably much rather be tucked up in bed.
“We’re all dedicated to our jobs.,” says thegrindstone. “You probably hate staying home sick too. Don’t get cranky just because someone can’t control their cough. They’re just trying to meet a deadline. Try helping them out instead. Less stress will help them get better faster.”
Hoverers and Chatterboxes
You know the type – they come to ask you something, and end up staying. And staying. So how do you politely remove yourself from the conversation? According to lifehacker.com, if you can’t tell them that you’ve got to get back to work, a few subtle clues usually do the trick. “Ask your chatty coworker to pick up some of your slack, talk about topics they don’t know, or be as uninteresting as possible.”
You could also drop a meaningful clanger such as “I’ll speak to you about it at lunch…”
The Lunch Thief
One last recommendation I couldn’t ignore is this one from thinkofthe.com. If there is a food thief in your midst, you can resolve the problem by putting them right off your lunch. “Don’t let a sticky-fingered coworker or schoolyard bully get away with lunch theft again!” says designer combo Sherwood Forlee and Mihoko Ouchi. These food bags have green mouldy-looking splotches on both sides, making your delicious lunch look a week old.
Coworking is all about creating an inspirational community of like-minded professionals, so happily for most of us, these little gripes rarely become a big problem. But next time a coworker grates on you, remember why you’re there: to engage with the small business community, gain inspiration, and get out of the monotony of home working. As a coworker you should also be contributing to this environment, and perhaps that overly chatty coworker is actually crying out for help. Surely it wouldn’t kill you to spare a few moments to listen, or suggest a few pointers.
What are your experiences of annoying coworkers, and how have you addressed these issues?
Image courtesy of www.examiner.com