I can’t put my finger on it but something about you bugs me – how to work with annoying people

Businessman with a red noseWe’ve all worked with people we found annoying.  Mine was named “Sandy”.  It could have been the flowing outfits she wore, which were more appropriate for a cocktail party than for an executive office. It could have been her laugh which was way too loud, especially evident as she was often the only person laughing. In the hopes of getting past my annoyance, I invited her to the movies where she proved to be even more annoying, since I could barely hear the movie over her laughter. Getting to know her outside the office clearly wasn’t going to solve this situation. Here is how I turned my time with her from unpleasant to pleasant.

1- Look for the good: You don’t have to like everyone, but there is something to like in every person. Find out what that is.  It turned out Sandy had an amazing singing voice (surprisingly, given her laugh) and she sang at concerts for free. She was also kind.  At work, she went out of her way to welcome a newly hired person.

2- Limit the exposure: If possible, decrease the amount of interaction. Save up requests and use e-mail and voicemail, if appropriate. I found that I could actually enjoy Sandy when I didn’t see her constantly. I closed my door to ignore her laughter.

3 – Be honest: It’s hard to tell someone that they’re bugging you, so be specific and be prepared with a solution. I approached Sandy after one exceptionally loud and long laugh and I just told her that it was great to hear someone so happy in the office, but that I get distracted easily and would appreciate it if she would mind keeping her door closed when she was laughing. She wasn’t offended and, in fact, mentioned that she knew she was loud and would try to keep it down.

4 – Focus on the results: Even if you don’t need to depend on your co-worker in order to do your job, remember that your “Sandy” is contributing to the organization as a whole which is benefiting you and those you work with.

5– Take the high road: When someone has an exaggerated behaviour like dressing inappropriately or a loud laugh, it doesn’t take long for the office gossips to spread the news.   You don’t have to defend the person but you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself if you don’t join in. After all, there is good in everyone!

Barbara Morris-Blake

Leave a Comment