19 types of coworkers you absolutely can't stand
We recently solicited readers to submit their most pressing career-related questions.
With help from Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "
Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," we've answered the following: "I have a really annoying coworker. What can I do about it?"
She says there are all different types of obnoxious, rude, and offensive people.
"Luckily, though, there are ways to tackle the many varieties. But it takes patience, tact, and the ability to see the big picture." Advertisement Here are 19 types of coworkers you absolutely can't stand - and how to deal with each of them: 1. Blabbermouths
Office and personal phone calls (especially with significant others), music, and repetitive noises can easily drive anyone nuts. "Consider approaching the noise offender privately, using as much diplomacy as you can muster," says Taylor. "You also have several defensive moves: wearing headsets; putting up a "quiet zone" sign as needed; and remember to take breaks. (And make sure you assess your own chatter meter before you approach others.) 2. Gossip mongers
2. Gossip mongers
"Some workers love being known as the office gossip, as it is a warped view of 'information is power,'" says Taylor. "Politely excuse yourself from the rumor mill, explaining you have work to do. If you're captive, give neutral responses, like, 'I try not to get involved with that stuff.'" Advertisement 3. Chompers, slurpers, and coughers
3. Chompers, slurpers, and coughers
The list doesn't stop there. "There are sneezers, throat clearers, and much more," says Taylor. "Talk to your fellow worker in private."
Try asking if they feel all right — which is a nice gesture, but also a way to let them know you notice the annoying sounds they're projecting.
4. Phone abusers
4. Phone abusers
Endless phone chattering, ring tone lovers, and speakerphone users all add up to a lot of distraction. Consider just being honest and let them know that it's hard for you to focus with all that noise. "Or you can put up a 'quiet zone' placard when the decibel exceeds the bell curve of human tolerance," says Taylor. "Headsets and short walks can also work wonders." Advertisement 5. Repetitive noise makers
5. Repetitive noise makers
"One way to drive yourself to distraction is to get caught up in the ever-growing beat of pen clickers from aspiring percussionists; foot tappers; drawer slammers; and techno-notification zealots," she says. "Use diplomacy and be direct — and make sure you've examined any of your own habits before you approach the offender."
6. Wannabe singers
6. Wannabe singers
Does your deskmate think she's the next Taylor Swift?
"Singing, humming, and whistling can drive anyone to fantasize about crawling into your credenza," says Taylor. "Avoid the temptation to out-blast them or threaten to post their vocal murmurs on YouTube, with the help of your hidden iPhone. Instead, tell them it bothers you. You can try humor with something like, 'I know things can get humdrum, and I always have a tune in my head. But, lately I can't get 'Happy' out of my head. I like that song too, but…'"
Advertisement 7. Swear lords
7. Swear lords
You start to cringe after every bad phone call or email that happens to your colleague, because you know the "F bombs" are on their way. "Diplomatically let your office neighbor know that you realize things can be really stressful, but the distraction can make things worse," Taylor suggests. 8. Bad food offenders
8. Bad food offenders
"Some foods, like fish or garlic, can feel like they're disrupting your olfactory system," Taylor explains. "Remember that cultural differences can account for different cuisine, eating habits, dress codes, and more. But when it's nearly impossible to get work done, it's time to speak up."
Advertisement 9. Mess mongers
9. Mess mongers
These colleagues seem oblivious to the fact that their jackets are nearly encasing your elbow or boots are a hallway hazard. You can always try a more subtle approach first: " Oops I almost tripped on your shoes! " Or, "I don ' t want to spill anything on your jacket. " If that doesn ' t work, you ' ll likely have to go the more direct route. 10. The smelly coworker
10. The smelly coworker
Bad breath or hygiene around you can make you dream of arriving to work in a gas mask. "This is highly sensitive, and may warrant being listed in a memo or mentioned in a group meeting about respectful work habits," Taylor explains. "See if HR will help."
You can always politely offer your colleague a mint or piece of gum. Maybe they'll get the hint.
Advertisement 11. Temperature czars
11. Temperature czars
If you find yourself alternating between your own private heater and fan due to your neighbor's obsession with office temperature, speak up. You likely have other frozen or overheated victims in the office. "Try to establish common ground rules as a team and avoid going over your colleague's head for resolve," she suggests.
"Bossy coworkers are as common as the office water cooler. Don't engage them, say you're busy with tact, and don't bully back," says Taylor. "If things become untenable, consider addressing the matter with your boss or HR.
Advertisement 13. Lingerers
This type of colleague can make you ponder whether they even have a job description, as "work" doesn't seem a part of it. "Like a little child, they seem to suffer from separation anxiety and neediness," Taylor says. "You may feel as if you were just involuntarily anointed their new BFF." Usually, body language can send the required message, but if not, let them know politely that you're under a deadline. "If necessary, share the love with someone else: 'I think Mary was talking about that earlier," as you point in her direction,'" she suggests. 14. Whiners
"Whiners can make you feel as if you're traveling into a famous country western song about love or projects lost," says Taylor. "But that shouldn't impact your determination in setting boundaries."
Negative reinforcement can come in many forms. Starting with the positive approach, try: "Well, look at the bright side. XYZ could happen." It's not your job to uplift your fellow workers, but if the dynamic is out of hand, you might have to be more direct about
your need to stay upbeat. Advertisement 15. Drama kings and queens
15. Drama kings and queens
Every office occurrence is a disaster — a screenplay ready to be written. "They will likely want to drag you into the latest catastrophe, but beyond speaking rational, common sense to them, you're best served to bide time by explaining your need to meet a deadline or make a call," Taylor says. "You can always excuse yourself and or make an exit for the break room." 16. Know-it-alls
You'll be tempted to roll your eyes, but the know-it-all is looking for attention, so don't! "If you don't offer it, they'll try the next victim, giving you your needed space," says Taylor. "Remember not to take their behavior personally." Advertisement 17. Slackers
These are the people who do just enough to get by. They
lack regard for deadlines, have very little motivation, and put minimal effort into their work.
The worst part is, working with a lazy colleague can make
your life more difficult, especially if you're teamed up with this person on a project or work directly with them on a regular basis.
Invite this person out to lunch and ask if they truly enjoy their job. Try to get to the bottom of things.
Without insulting him or her, mention that you've noticed a lack of enthusiasm. Explain how them not meeting deadlines or completing all their tasks affects you and others in the office.
If nothing changes, talk to their manager.
The chatter here isn't always directed at you, but the kiss-up barometer can easily boost your body temperature if within earshot. "Here's where body language can go far," Taylor says. "You can try politely turning around as if there's a distraction, signaling that you're trying to work." Advertisement 19. Debbie Downers and Negative Nancys
19. Debbie Downers and Negative Nancys
"Endless brooders and naysayers can spread misery throughout the office with warp speed," warns Taylor. "Stay away and don't fall prey to becoming the office doormat."