Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to deal with annoying coworkers | Bad habits and backstabbers


We're on week three of annoying coworkers! We've already covered the downer, the bulldozer, the oversharer, and the eager beaver. Today's topic: people with annoying bad habits and backstabbers.

Bad Habits
  • Smelly
  • Loud chewer
  • Hums, whistles, or talks to themselves
  • Foot-tapper
  • Loud phone talker
Why someone might have a bad habit: Oftentimes, this coworker does not know that they have a weird habit, or even if they're aware of it, they may not realize how annoying it is. Some bad habits are a nervous tic, so they may just be wound tightly.

How to deal with someone with a bad habit: Don't take it personally. If you are in a position to offer advice, kindly pull them aside one-on-one and mention that this habit might be inhibiting work productivity or may be holding them back. Be kind but direct, so you only have to make one pass (one convo is awkward enough, a second is torture).  "I'm pretty impressed by your whistling skills, but it distracts me and others when we're trying work. Would you mind not whistling during work?"

What if you have a bad habit? If you're not sure whether you have a bad habit or not, ask a trusted coworker. Be open to hearing the truth. And be willing to come up with an alternative, such as eating your lunch in the breakroom instead of at your desk. Have your trusted coworker keep you accountable to rid you of your bad habit.

The Backstabber
  • Pounces on others' weakness
  • Often cozy with the higher-ups
  • Gossipy
  • Burns bridges
  • Benefits from others' misfortunes

Why someone might be a backstabber: Much like the bulldozer, the backstabber is a insecure. But they also take it to the next level--instead of just running over people to be heard, they try to tear down those in their way for long-term negative consequences. This is just mean.

How to deal with a backstabber: Don't offer any information they could use against you. Keep records of correspondence and work completed so that you'll have evidence if they try to attack. And be aware and steer clear of who they associate with, too; backstabbers often have a little gaggle of followers or a small group of confidantes that are equally as mean.

What if you're the backstabber? Cut it out! You may think you're serving some greater good by tattling on a coworker for your own benefit, and it may offer short-term results, but in the end, burning bridges is a bad, bad idea. Even if no one is saying anything, if others notice this type of behavior, it could come back and bite you in the future (not-as-positive referrals, losing future contacts, lack of trust from others).

Have you encountered these personality types? What tips do you have to deal with them?


  1. Love this article and at my first job there was a huge group of people who were nothing but backstabbers. I left a year later and it was the worst experience!

  2. Quite a useful piece of information.
    I have a friend who turns up to be a backstabber. She has been spreading rumours & badmouth me for this few months & she doesn't seem to stop. Strange enough, she has a group of faithful followers. I blessed those who choose to believe in her blindly as they will suffer the same fate as me soon.. PLS WAKE UP!!!

  3. @ anonymous - I'm so sorry to hear this is happening to you. :( It sounds like a classic "mean girls" type situation. They're likely just really insecure and trying to make themselves feel better by making other people feel worse. Odd how other people are attracted to that, right? Here's hoping things get better for you!

  4. I have a co-worker who hums CONSTANTLY! It's driving me crazy, so I now listen to my radio, or I-pod to help tune it out. It's the only thing I can do. Oh how I cherish those moments when they're away from their desk.
    PLEASE, if you love to sing, hum, whistle, be conscientious of you're co-workers as they may not appreciate it as much.
    Same goes for playing the radio loud - those around you many not have the same musical tastes.


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