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How to deal with annoying co-workers in a friendly manner

  1. Oct 10, 2009 #1
    Hello all,

    I need some help with this.

    I work for a very annoying and extremely long winded (talks alot) individual who goes to great lengths to have people (all people) think he is the most inteligent person on the planet.

    The individual has convinced himself that he is all knowing by continually watching/listening to lectures from the Teaching Company. He buys lectures on every subject they have and then at any chance he gets, he regurgitates what he has memorized on the unsuspecting victim. For example, you could be drinking a coffee from Starbucks and mention it is called the Komodo Dragon brew and you will be cornered for the next 20 minutes listening to him regurgitate what he memorized on the actual Komodo Dragon. Another example, you could mention that you bought a book from India on Amazon and you will be told the memorized version he has of the history of the Indian government.

    This person is completely oblivious to the fact that no cares and no one is the least bit interested in hearing all of this additional information. To make matters worse this individual is not married and has no children to unload this stuff on at home or the loving wife to tell him to shut up and get to the point. (Like I do. LOL)

    Sometimes this person simply makes up stuff just to sound inteligent. An example of that is; My hobby is General Relativity and this individual knows that so he gave me a lecture on the Einstein Field Equation and had everything incorrect so the next day I wrote the equation down and he didn't even know what it was. Another time, he was giving me a lecture on Quantum Mechanics and I asked him if he knew who David Hilbert was and he never heard of him.

    All of these examples, and thousands more I won't bore you with, have made this individual become completely ignored by all of us in my office. We dread having to speak to him.

    Lastely, when I ask this person a simple question that requires a two word answer, I end up listening to him ramble for about 1/2 an hour about stuff that has nothing to do with what I asked and usually he gets himself so confused that about half way through I have to aske the original question again and sometimes I just give up and leave (poliltely) without having my simple question answered.

    I have been dealing with this for about 2 1/2 years and I just can't take it any longer.

    Can anyone help me out or suggest how I can politely tell that person to shut up and get to the point?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2009 #2


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    I have almost the same problem except the one I have to deal with is very intelligent and in most cases really knows his stuff. He just can not stay on track, keep to his own business and shut up. We have a joke that says "ask him what time it is and he'll tell you how to build a clock." So I feel your pain.

    Quite frankly I still have to endure it, but I have done a couple of things that have helped.

    1) I made sure that this person understands that my time is just as important, and sometimes more important, than his and to get to the damned point (however you want to say that part is up to you).

    2) I avoid him until I absolutely have to talk to him. When he starts going off in left field about something he has nothing to do with, I constantly interrupt him and remind him the point we were talking to.

    In the end, I think I can get away from him in 15 minutes instead of 30.

    Good Luck. If you find a better way, let me know too!
  4. Oct 10, 2009 #3
    I wouldn't mind having some people around who actually know what they're talking about.
    My problem is I'm always hearing people talk about stuff that they're either making up, or they misinterpreted from some show they watched. I usually don't have the heart to flat out tell someone they're wrong, so I let it go.
    I had a girl try to tell me babies could breathe under water in the womb. That was something I couldn't let go. I didn't just say "you're wrong" and explain how much of an idiot she is for believing that. I kinda guided her into understanding on her own how ridiculous that statement was.
    It was hard, because even after I asked questions like "How do they lose the ability to breathe under water after they're born?", she would give me an answer like "I don't know, but they do it."
  5. Oct 10, 2009 #4
    When I go for help to people like that:
    1) I ask my question
    2) If he is not answering it directly, I ask the question again in different words or re-mention the main subject I want to discuss until I bring him on the track
    3) As soon he answers, I summarize what he answered, thank him for his help and leave
  6. Oct 10, 2009 #5
    http://www.sreejith.net/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/angry-guy.jpg [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Oct 10, 2009 #6


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    Argh! I work with one of those too. A 2 min question turns into a half hour conversation. My solution is to take one of two approaches. Either I ask the question just before I need to leave for another meeting, and when the discussion gets side-tracked, I just look at my watch and tell him I have another meeting to get to so can't stay and talk. Or, I save my questions for when he comes to my office for something, so once the question is answered and he hangs around continuing to talk, I can just keep getting work done (he never gets the hint that I'm busy with something to cut the conversation short and leave, but he also doesn't seem to get offended if I keep working while he's talking).
  8. Oct 10, 2009 #7

    I usually do the first sentence in the quote above. I have just recently started the interruption phase.

    This I have to start doing immediately. Side Story on this one. Once, I had to get a General Arrangement drawing out of the office by 4 PM and he had to review it. I gave it to him to review, he forgot about it, and at 3 PM I went to see if he was done making comments on it. He just started reviewing it when I walked in and was complaining that the drawing contained some incorrect dimensions. Somehow from that he ended up talking about slide rules and I (mistakenly) said "yeah, I need to learn how to use on of those one day" immediatly, he had his out of desk and was destined to show me how to use it. Now the whole time he knew this drawing had to go out and still couldn't stay focused on the simple task of reviewing the drawing.

    That was the first time that I had to be rude to him and I felt bad about it, so I haven't done that since.


    I do this every time. (If I get an answer) to make sure I understand it.

    In order to give him some credit, he is an intelligent person in certain areas. Such as, the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Presure Vessel Code, Power Piping, and boiler design.

    Thanks for your advice.




    We have another annoying idividual we call the "light" version of the one I wrote this post about. He gets highly offended when you keep working. Last time I did that he didn't speak to me for a week or more.

    End EDIT:
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  9. Oct 10, 2009 #8


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    Something that worked at a job I had 10-12 years ago required cooperation among my other coworkers. When you see somebody else trapped in a conversation with this person, just interrupt them ... the interruption alone was often enough to break things up. If not, then the interrupter can make up an excuse, for example: "Excuse me, Jim, could you give me a hand with something in the lab?"

    Or, if the gabber has trapped somebody in their own office, call that person on the phone. The gabber will not know who is on the phone, and will leave the room to let the person take his "very important phone call."

    The person who was a problem at my workplace seemed unable to know when was the appropriate time to wrap up a conversation. For whatever reason, these little interruptions provided the necessary stimulus to make that happen.
  10. Oct 10, 2009 #9
    Yeah, we tried that but this guy is so far out in space cadet camp that he just stands there the whole time. Sometimes he keeps talking while your on the phone.

    We have been trying sports questions to rescue each other with now that football and hockey are underway. The other day the guy didn't even know who Sidney Crosby was. (Now that offended me. LOL)

  11. Oct 10, 2009 #10

    Google "Amniotic fluid"

    "Amniotic fluid is continually being swallowed and "inhaled" and replaced through being "exhaled", as well as being urinated by the baby. It is essential that the amniotic fluid be breathed into the lungs by the fetus in order for the lungs to develop normally."

    You might want to find her and apologise?
  12. Oct 10, 2009 #11


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    That's when you say, "I'm sorry, I really need to take this call in private. Can you close the door on the way out? Thanks."
  13. Oct 10, 2009 #12


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    Um, no. They aren't breathing through amniotic fluid, because their lungs are functional yet. They get all their oxygenation from the mother's circulation.
  14. Oct 10, 2009 #13


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    I had to work with a real blowhard for years and couldn't get rid of him. He was the owner of the company, and he had some misguided impression that if he interfered with your work and wasted your time, you were getting valuable advice and "training". He was quite pompous and would never use a common word when he could use a longer (and often less-appropriate one). Absolute hell ensued when you were tag-teamed by that jerk and the GM, whom I shall fondly refer to as Bub Buzzword. There was not a training video he had not seen or a management book that he had not read, and he would derail potentially valuable conversations by constantly making reference to world-class, outside-the-box, incentivizing, ownership, self-motivating, crap. It was really sick, and the owner somehow thought that we people who managed the departments and made millions for him should have to listen to that pin-headed martinet. (Think of Dilbert's pointy-haired boss as a mild and funnier example of this perversion.) It was funny to watch deadlines loom thanks to their obstructionism, then Mr. Work Smarter, not Harder became Mr. You're Not Pulling Your Weight because you wanted to have an hour or two with your spouse in the evening, and perhaps part of a weekend.
  15. Oct 10, 2009 #14
    If he/she is not the boss, why do you have tip-toe around it all the time? Why not just say "Sorry, but you get into conversations all the time which have no real point. I don't mind talking with you but you have to drop the lectures or I am just going to leave". It's not rude at all. Think of it as if you were that person or a person EVERYONE is trying to be too polite and not tell you that something you do irritates a whole group of people. Would you like to be oblivious towards it?

    Sounds like some of you have been dealing with for so long. What loss would it be to you if he doesn't talk to you because you offended him/her? People will get over it, if they don't; that's not your problem. As an adult we should of developed a pretty decent layer of thick skin not to take everything so hurtfully.
  16. Oct 10, 2009 #15


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    you answered your own question!

    Q) How to deal with annoying co-workers?
    A) In a friendly manner.

    Only, I'd change friendly to polite. Being too nice or too mean will just deepen your relationship with them.
  17. Oct 10, 2009 #16

    Seems you had a different opinion some years ago;


    Jul18-04, 07:14 PM #5
    "Makes sense that Monique would know this...surrounded by water the way she is! Though, that leaves the question of how or why that reflex developed. Fetuses don't "hold their breath" in the womb, they breathe in amniotic fluid all the time."

    The Wiki link says a lot about the issue... nowhere does it imply that the fluid contains oxygen or that the fetus absorbs oxygen from the fluid. As I understand it, blood gases (oxygen & carbon dioxide) are exchanged between mother and fetus across the placental membrane. However, the fetal "breathing" of the fluid appears to be necessary for proper lung development
  18. Oct 10, 2009 #17
    Apologize for what? Inhaling liquid into your lungs isn't breathing. Breathing is respiring, and respiration doesn't take place just because something goes into your lungs.
  19. Oct 10, 2009 #18

    Your argument is not with me... take it up with all the MD's who believe that a fetus breathes amniotic fluid.
  20. Oct 10, 2009 #19


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    No, you're the one who seems to believe that based on a complete misunderstanding of a wikipedia article. I already explained to you what is wrong with your statement.
  21. Oct 10, 2009 #20


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    Wow, if the phone trick doesn't work, you work with a guy who has absolutely no idea how he comes off to others. Of course you already knew that, haha. It's likely he's lonely, too, so his coworkers may be his only social contacts.

    I think you have three options, none of them very good.

    • You can do nothing.
    • You can speak with his direct supervisor, or perhaps the HR person, or both. Let them know he's affecting your productivity. You might even bring some coworkers with you...that would make it clear this is the company's problem, not just an interpersonal problem between you and him.
    • You can speak with him directly, keeping it friendly as possible. It might go something like, "I've been having trouble with my productivity lately, so I have to cut back on socializing during work hours. Please don't take it personally, I just need to focus more on my work."

    I just thought of one more thing...try to set him up with a date :smile:.
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