Kelly Poulson
Coach. Career Navigator. Ass Kicker. Dog mom.

People who annoy you will leave you feeling mentally drained. An irritating coworker or annoying and difficult people in a client meeting could make you dread going to work. So are the people at work annoying? Here’s how to deal. 

Well, first, let's state the inevitable: People at work will annoy you. It happens. I don’t care how nice you are or if you’ve got emotional intelligence out the wazoo, there will come a time when you’ve had enough. Now, what will you do when that time comes? Throw stuff? Yell and scream? I sure as heck hope not. At least not if you like your job and want to keep it.

Fear not! Like most of life’s challenges, there are ways around these situations. You can learn to deal with difficult coworkers and their sometimes annoying behaviors. And do so successfully! Let’s explore several tactics that you can use to make it less painful for you, shall we? 

1. Don’t assume. (Or if you must, make it positive!) 

It’s a lot simpler to assume someone is behaving a certain way to make your life a living hell instead of finding out what’s truly going on. You don’t know the full story and quite often are making assumptions about why they are doing what they are doing without taking time to learn more. What’s interesting about that is how ticked off you can get because of a story that you created in your own head about the scenario.

So instead of being certain that Sue from accounting is simply being a jerk, maybe take a step back and get curious about what else might be going on. Perhaps the finance team is under a lot of heat these days and have a major deadline and what Sue owes you might not be top priority for her? Again, not an excuse for awful behavior on her part but she may just be trying to make it through the day and not plotting against you like an evil genius. Remember that annoying as they may be, your coworkers are in fact human. Dealing with all of the stressors and nonsense that we all are at any given time. Here’s where you need get in touch with your sense of compassion. Believe in your heart of hearts that they are coming from a good place to start and see what that’s like.More often than not, people aren’t out to get you. It might feel like that sometimes, but take a step back and look at it. Is that really the case? Starting from a place a positivity is a much more solid foundation than the opposite end of the spectrum. 

2. Ask. 

One surefire way to figure out what is going on with someone in any situation is to ask. Mind blowing, I know. Though in theory having a conversation may seem simple, it certainly isn’t easy. There are times when you are frustrated and the last thing you want to do is engage in conversation with a main source of your frustration. BUT, if you’re calm and comfortable enough to do so, you could get to the root of the matter much quicker and easier than trying to solve on your own off in the corner somewhere. Come at it from a positive place. “Hey Joe. We seem to really be struggling with one another on this project. What’s going on?” He might say he hasn’t noticed that at all, or he’s swamped or he’s got family stuff going that’s impacting his ability to show up. If you didn’t ask, you’d have no idea what you’re dealing with which means you also have no idea how to help solve for it. Opening up the lines of communication will help you both come to a resolution. 

3. Common ground. Find it. 

It’s pretty easy to get annoyed by someone when you don’t know them at all. Those fake stories we talked about above? It’s harder to create them when you already know a bit about the people that you work with. Take time to grab coffee with them when you’re not in the midst of a major stressful project. Are they a dog person or a cat person? Introvert/extrovert? What’s their favorite tv show? Sometimes even remembering that you and Carrie both love Bob’s Burgers makes it easier to deal with her when she’s driving you up a wall. 

4. Check yourself. 

When all else fails, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. If everyone in your office has suddenly become annoying to you, what’s up with that? Do you need to take a walk? Go pet a dog? Are you not getting enough sleep or have you recently started a low carb diet that’s making you extra cranky? You need to know what’s going on with you that’s prompting such strong reactions to coworkers. If you’re not yourself, it makes sense that you’re having unusual reactions to colleagues. Do some soul searching to figure out what it will take to get you back to you. And if everyone is still annoying at that point, maybe it’s time to explore elsewhere.

Let’s be real, people doing annoying things is pretty much a fact of life. You don’t need to let it ruin your day. Try to look at things from a different perspective. Be curious and less judgy. It could work wonders!


Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at