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

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DaveC426913

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I've spent years becoming more and more jaded by these situations until I finally stumbled upon the solution. I'd always wanted these idiots to get their comeuppance but it's never going to happen. The best you can hope for is for them to stop being your problem. Therefore I now have a policy of going to their senior manager and telling them how great they are, over and over. Once they start believing, find another senior manager from a different and hopefully geographically separated area convince them that this person is a key asset. The ultimate aim being to get them the hell away from you. Who cares if they get more money out of the deal? it may hurt my sense of what's right but in the big scheme of things.....
And has it ever worked?
 

BobG

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And has it ever worked?

Once - a shovel would have been quicker and more satisfying though.
 
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Because he's an authority figure that can't say anything in just a sec.
The "cos" in his post was a joke in reference to your "sine." :wink:
 

DaveC426913

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The "cos" in his post was a joke in reference to your "sine." :wink:
And his "sec" was in response to my "cos". :wink:

Bad Bohrok. Go sleep on your cot.

(If anyone can do CSC, I'll give you a dollar.)
 
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I was probably laughing too hard from the other three that I didn't notice sec. Besides, those reciprocal functions aren't as common as the other three.

I suggest that the OP leave his job and buy stock in CSC.
 
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I had a professor who had a tendency to go on tangents.

That's always a bad sine.

Hee! :biggrin:

You know, insisting that a thread on the Internet -- in a general discussion forum -- be locked because it veered off in a couple of directions (including entertaining ones) is in no way similar to the problem proposed in the OP. First of all, we're not working on a deadline trying to accomplish something definitive. We're not on someone's payroll and wasting their money by wasting time and etc. The digressions are quite frequently what make casual conversations so much fun.

As to the OP, you have a firm, to-the-point conversation with your co-worker and make clear your point. Do not be rude, do not name-call, do not point out fault or lay blame. Simply lay out your issue to your co-worker and then, when you find yourself in a situation where you need to deal with him, keep him on track. Keep saying, point-blank, "Okay, but I need to talk about this drawing here as we're on a timeline. Would you help me with that, please?" There's nothing anywhere that dictates you must be friendly, per se, but be polite, respectful, and direct.

Make sure you tell HR (or equivalent responsible person) prior to having the conversation with the person. If you can't get the co-worker to comply, then return to HR and ask them to deal with it. For you it may be an irritant -- for the company it means wasting money. There are people who are paid to make sure that doesn't happen.
 
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Pythagorean

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That's always a bad sine.

And, worse yet, when you do try to "interact better with coworkers" when they bring their silly problems to you, they complain about how you're wasting their time instead of focusing on solving problems they should have been capable of solving on their own.
I had a prof that I worked with that didn't like me listening to music. Obviously, it annoyed him and made it hard for him to focus (or he at least projected it on to me).

This, I understand, and I am willing to turn my music down, but the thing about this guy was that he'd only show up once or twice a summer (he was usually traveling) and he'd just throw a fit... he would go off! I got the full lecture, using words like "inappropriate" (which is a very dirty word to me at 29 years old).

So I stood up and told him that his outburst was "inappropriate" and that if we really interested in doing his work, he would have found that a simple "please turn that down" would have saved us both a lot of time.

Then he disappears of to his other research for a month or two, then comes back and does the exact same thing. Now what really pisses me off about this guy is that he brings his daughter to work and she herself is very loud... so one day, I rolled my chair by his door and asked politely "will you please turn that down" and then went back to my desk. I felt very smug from then on.
 
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If you've tried being honest with him and that doesn't work, then just tell him what to do. Reward him for success and punish or ignore his failure to obey commands. Constantly interrupt his bad behaviour and correct it. He'll either avoid you or respect you. Take control of the situation rather than allowing yourself to be pushed around.

The guy is probably only semi-conscious of the effect his habit has on others, like someone who bites their fingernails might be. I had a friend once that liked to stand too close when he talked. The first time I talked with him I realized we were going for a stroll in reverese. I told him to take a step back. Thirty seconds later he started getting all up in my face again. I just shook my head and decided to live with it. Then there was the guy that spit food from his mouth when he ate and talked simultaneously. There were several times I told him to leave the table. That's too much. You'd be doing the talkative guy a favor by being patient and direct. Stand your ground.
 

DaveC426913

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If you've tried being honest with him and that doesn't work, then just tell him what to do. Reward him for success and punish or ignore his failure to obey commands. Constantly interrupt his bad behaviour and correct it. He'll either avoid you or respect you. Take control of the situation rather than allowing yourself to be pushed around.

The guy is probably only semi-conscious of the effect his habit has on others, like someone who bites their fingernails might be.
But that is not what the OP is saying this guy is like. This guy isn't simply inadverantly a bore; it sounds like this guy is very aware of what he is saying:

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
 
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If your boss is really a problem for any significant reason, and such behavior described above does sound significant, get yourself out of there. There is not likely much you can do to change a bosses behavior. If that behavior is such that they do not command respect enough to strongly represent you in terms of performance, accomplishments and potential, you can either die a slow death by staying or take a chance and move elsewhere.

But before moving to another manager, be sure to get some feedback from individuals working for that manager. One of the most difficult things to get a handle on before taking a new job is just what the environment is really like somewhere else. People might be working in agony similar to yours but may not reveal it because they do not want word to ever get back to their boss. The only way to overcome such prudence is to cultivate a wide variety of friends or contacts so that you are a trusted individual, someone with whom private confidences can be shared.

Never gripe about things with anyone you don't know and trust. Sooner or later they may share that gripe with someone else and you'll be labelled.

Its generally a good idea never to ask a boss a question without offering a solution. Even when you offer a solution, as in "Here's what I'm planning on doing" some bosses will be panicked, thinking they are still supposed to make a decision and that you can't make them, instead of realizing all that have to do is see if yours is reasonable....

In my own case, I have worked for people who scared the hell out of others outside our work group because they were so demanding. Know what?...on balance those 'toughest' of bosses were the best because they let you know what was expected, you tended to step up your quality, when you screwed up they told you and rewarded you when you delivered on commitments. Tough and fair is what to look for.

I still remember one REAL chewing out I got from my bosses boss many years ago....I had relied on a very capable managers assurance that a communications service problem would be fixed on a Friday night....it wasn't and the customer called and called until he got my bosses boss on Saturday...his day off....So my bosses boss asked me "Why the hell am I fixing your porblem on my day off?" I told my bosses boss what happened, my bad, and said "you're right it will never happen again"......that boss or my boss promoted me several months later and told me as I was leaving his organization he respected my accepting responsibility....that I did not make excuses...

Those were the bosses that supported me and helped me advance. It was the bosses who never really knew what they should be doing, nor ever had an idea of what I should be doing, that were the worst...No matter what I did it just wasn't quite what they wanted...but they could never describe what it was they did want.

My own failing, in retrospect, was getting the hell out of those situations fast enough ...because when downsizing eventually came those mediocre bosses were fired and after several rounds of that there was no one left to represent me....no one who knew me personally....that's when I finally left....and even if they had survived I doubt they would have had the respect to represent their subordinates.

Only you can decide how confident you are in your abilities and those of your immediate boss...and when its time to make a move. Most often we all wait much too long....indecision IS a decision!!!
 
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I had a prof that I worked with that didn't like me listening to music. Obviously, it annoyed him and made it hard for him to focus (or he at least projected it on to me).

This, I understand, and I am willing to turn my music down, but the thing about this guy was that he'd only show up once or twice a summer (he was usually traveling) and he'd just throw a fit... he would go off! I got the full lecture, using words like "inappropriate" (which is a very dirty word to me at 29 years old).

So I stood up and told him that his outburst was "inappropriate" and that if we really interested in doing his work, he would have found that a simple "please turn that down" would have saved us both a lot of time.

Then he disappears of to his other research for a month or two, then comes back and does the exact same thing. Now what really pisses me off about this guy is that he brings his daughter to work and she herself is very loud... so one day, I rolled my chair by his door and asked politely "will you please turn that down" and then went back to my desk. I felt very smug from then on.
He did handle the problem inappropriately, but some people are more aware of sounds in the office than others. If someone is playing music in the office, I can not help but listen to what is played. The person in the cubicle behind me listens to the radio all day on a single station. The result is that I hear the current pop music top twenty all day long. This is infuriating. I currently hate the new Black Eyed Peas song "I've got a Feeling."

I have headphone on my computer so I can listen to what I want to listen to without bothering anyone around me.

If it really bothered me in the extreme that she is playing the radio I would tell her why it bothers me instead of simply yelling at her.

I am currently listening to books on tape on my computer. (Yes, my job is easy enough I can listen to books on tape and operate a CAD program at the same time.) Could you imagine my coworkers responce if I wasn't listening over my headphones, even at low volume?
 
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Re: How to deal with annoying co-workers in a friendly manner

Ignore the person, then if he or she persists, file a grievance report with your Human Resource Department. I don’t like being stalked while I'm at work.

I should also mention that I do consider the Internet to be a workplace at times. I think harrassing another person with hurtful innuendos is a sign of immaturity and/or a careless and negative attitude. For those individuals, I highly suggest taking a break. :)
 
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DaveC426913

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The person in the cubicle behind me listens to the radio all day on a single station. The result is that I hear the current pop music top twenty all day long. This is infuriating. I currently hate the new Black Eyed Peas song "I've got a Feeling."
Employees in cubicles should not be listening to radios loud enough for their neighbours to hear without their neighbours' blessing.

This fellow is exhibiting very bad office etiquette.



I recently worked in an open concept office where one artist guy played his music to the entire office of about 40 people. (It's not that the music was loud, it was just that he office was maybe 50 feet square, and the music would carry.) He played a personal collection of modern euro-techno-fusion-jazz stuff. It wasn't just a case of one guy being rude, I think the behaviour was institutionalized by the CEO as part of the "cool kids" scene.

While I enjoy open concept, this was too much for me. I moved myself to a different floor.
 
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One thing I've found that works better if someone has their radio on or loud is if I say something like, "That radio is kinda loud." It seems like for a lot of people it's more polite than saying, "Can you turn your radio down." I just read in a book that in certain situations you need to be indirect but control the context so they still get the same message across but don't feel imposed on. Also in situations where you're supposed to be pals you're supposed to be more informal, slang, etc, while in situations where the other person wants to be treated like an independent you're supposed to be more formal in speech (notice politeness between two buddies versus with strangers or a boss). Yes it's in a book, so sue me. I've been trying those two principles a little lately and it works.
 
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In my entire lifetime in the workplace, there has never been a radio playing. I think silence is golden. :biggrin: Personally, I can't totally concentrate and be detailed oriented when a radio is on. Plus, I think it would be distracting when making or recieving business calls. More than likely it must have to do with the type of job(s) you have or have had.

On a happy note, I love music and love to dance! :biggrin: Singing in the car is cool too. And, I like my last post to this topic.

p.s. I hope I don't get in trouble for this off topic- Dave, can you tell me via private message or here where you needed some information about your 'illustrations'? I saw it briefly appear on physicsforums, but was in a rush and didn't save the topic, but I did find what might be helpful in your request. Hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow.
 
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But that is not what the OP is saying this guy is like. This guy isn't simply inadverantly a bore; it sounds like this guy is very aware of what he is saying:
He knows he is talking. That doesn't mean he can stop from doing it. He probably knows that his coworkers dislike him. That doesn't mean he understands why. It's my opinion the guy deserves an honest, straightforward response.

What I suspect is some kind of loneliness, social awkwardness, need to prove himself. He's trying to fit in and make friends and it comes off wrong. He was probably picked on as a child by his peers and made to feel inadequate by his parents and siblings. The cycle continues. I'd take the guy out once a week and get drunk, maybe bring him to some shows or something. He needs some friends.
 

DaveC426913

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He knows he is talking. That doesn't mean he can stop from doing it. He probably knows that his coworkers dislike him. That doesn't mean he understands why.
IMO, that doesn't jive with this:
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.
It's hard to imagine that happening inadvertantly. He's not simply hoping to make small talk or be friendly; he seems to have a conscious personal agenda to prove something about himself.
 

DaveC426913

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18,296
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One thing I've found that works better if someone has their radio on or loud is if I say something like, "That radio is kinda loud." It seems like for a lot of people it's more polite than saying, "Can you turn your radio down."
Yes. Your suggestion is much more diplomatic.
 
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IMO, that doesn't jive with this:

It's hard to imagine that happening inadvertantly. He's not simply hoping to make small talk or be friendly; he seems to have a conscious personal agenda to prove something about himself.
Does an addict inadvertantly find himself buying his next hit? He knows he is doing it. It doesn't mean he can stop. The guy probably does have something to prove and doesn't have the social skills to deal with it. He has some ache he needs to soothe. So he annoys the heck out of his coworkers who hate him for it.

edit- it's the exact opposite of inadvertant. It consumes his thought. He focuses on it relentlessly.
 
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Does an addict inadvertently find himself buying his next hit? He knows he is doing it. It doesn't mean he can stop. The guy probably does have something to prove and doesn't have the social skills to deal with it. He has some ache he needs to soothe. So he annoys the heck out of his coworkers who hate him for it.
It can be dangerous making assumptions about the motivation of the people you find annoying. Many people manage to float along blissfully unaware of the way they are viewed by peers. I'm not saying that this should be tolerated, but you shouldn't talk to the guy like he is trying to force this knowledge on you.

If you treat everyone with respect you can usually build up enough of a relationship with each other that he will be able to accept well intended criticism.

If you discover that he is an unbearable, anti-social individual due to his intent at belittling those around him, then it is time to take the steps appropriate for your position at your job.

I remember thinking "I can't wait to get out of High school so I don't have to put up with all this drama."
Then I joined the US Army...
I enrolled in College...
I work as an intern...
Drama and Politics are a part of the human experience.
 
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It can be dangerous making assumptions about the motivation of the people you find annoying. Many people manage to float along blissfully unaware of the way they are viewed by peers. I'm not saying that this should be tolerated, but you shouldn't talk to the guy like he is trying to force this knowledge on you.

If you treat everyone with respect you can usually build up enough of a relationship with each other that he will be able to accept well intended criticism.

If you discover that he is an unbearable, anti-social individual due to his intent at belittling those around him, then it is time to take the steps appropriate for your position at your job.
It can be dangerous to not make assumptions also. Being friendly can be dangerous. Ignoring a problem can be dangerous too.

Treating people with respect is fine. There is a difference between being friendly and being polite. The OP doesn't want to be friendly. He just wants this guy off his back without being rude about it. He wants to be polite. That is in the OP's interest. It gives no consideration to the interests or needs of the annoying guy. I think a rude friend would be beneficial to him. He needs someone to let him know when to shut up and unclench. This guy needs the acceptance (respect) of his peers as much as anyone else.
 
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DaveC426913

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Does an addict inadvertantly find himself buying his next hit? He knows he is doing it. It doesn't mean he can stop. The guy probably does have something to prove and doesn't have the social skills to deal with it. He has some ache he needs to soothe. So he annoys the heck out of his coworkers who hate him for it.

edit- it's the exact opposite of inadvertant. It consumes his thought. He focuses on it relentlessly.
This thread-tangent is a direct descendant of your comment:

The guy is probably only semi-conscious of the effect his habit has on others, like someone who bites their fingernails might be.
It seems contradictory to me to suggest that he is both semi-conscious of what he is doing and at the same time fully-consumed by it.

I get that a drug addict can indulge his habit without requiring anyone else's involvement in it. This is why he can "inadvertantly" have an effect on others.

But that is very different from this guy whose habit is to "have an effect on others" (make them think he's brilliant). It can't be inadvertant.
 
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This thread-tangent is a direct descendant of your comment:


It seems contradictory to me to suggest that he is both semi-conscious of what he is doing and at the same time fully-consumed by it.

I get that a drug addict can indulge his habit without requiring anyone else's involvement in it. This is why he can "inadvertantly" have an effect on others.

But that is very different from this guy whose habit is to "have an effect on others" (make them think he's brilliant). It can't be inadvertant.
People can be fully consumed by behaviours that they don't understand. He probably is aware that he is trying to make people think he's brilliant. He can observe his own behaviour the same as anyone else. I doubt he has any idea why he does it. I doubt he could stop doing it on his own. He needs friends and the respect of his peers more than he knows, but he doesn't have the social tools to manage that.

Involvement has nothing to do with volition.
 

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