Modern Etiquette: Dealing with Annoying Co-Workers

Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:26am EDT
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(Pamela Eyring is the president and director of The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) which provides professional business etiquette, image, and international protocol training. Founded in 1988, PSOW is the first and only school of its kind in the U.S. to become accredited. Any opinions expressed are her own. PSOW’s website is:

By Pamela Eyring,

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Know-it-All. Negative Nancy. Larry Loud-Talker. The Over-Sharer. The workplace is filled with all kinds of personalities, each with their own unique (and sometimes annoying) habits.

While you can't choose your co-workers you can choose how you handle their annoying behavior. Your best approach will largely depend upon your circumstances, and the level of annoyance.

For example, if your co-worker's habit hampers your ability to do your job you'll need to take care of the problem even if it means going to your supervisor. However, filing even a ‘verbal' complaint should always be your last-resort. Meanwhile, you may want to look at your own workplace behavior which, unknowingly, may be offensive to others.

Tips for Resolving Conflict

Remove yourself from the situation: If you find yourself focusing more on your co-worker's annoyance than the work in front of you, take a break. Even a few minutes in a restroom or break room will clear your head and calm your nerves.

Find an outlet for your frustration: A 20-minute power walk or "vent-session" with a trusted friend is another option. Once you've released the built-up tension you'll find you have a new perspective on the situation.

Find your focus: If deadlines prevent you from removing yourself from the situation, create a place of calm in your own mind. Any technique that helps you create a "clear headspace" will provide a sense of control and calm. Try noise-canceling ear-buds or mentally repeat a mantra, like "focus" in your mind.   Continued...