12 Types of Annoying Coworkers and How to Deal With Each One

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger

You'll work with a number of different types of people throughout your career, and it's inevitable that, sometimes, you won't always get along well with everyone. While you might make some of your closest friends at work, you might also meet some (or a lot) of people with whom you wouldn't necessarily choose to spend your time if you had the choice.

Of course, it's important to always maintain professionalism and keep cordial relationships in the workplace, but it's OK to admit that some coworkers simply aren't your kind of people. Those people are probably like these 12 most annoying types of coworkers

What to do when your coworkers annoy you? Here's how to deal with them.

1. The Office Gossiper

The office gossiper is the one who is always coming into the workplace talking about someone else in the office. They're chewing your ear off day in and day out about the coworker they deem annoying, not realizing that they're likely annoying you. The gossiper is a troublemaker because, if you associate with them too much or engage in the gossiping, you can get yourself into some sticky situations at work — situations that can cost you your workplace friendships, connections and, ultimately, your job. 

How to Deal: Avoid the gossiper.

You definitely don't want to burn bridges by engaging in gossip at work. So your best bet is to avoid the gossip so as to not get yourself involved. So, how do you avoid people at work who act like this? You set the precedent that you're not going to get involved in the gossip.

First and foremost, you don't put anything in writing. EverThis means you don't put anything you wouldn't be comfortable with others potentially reading into words that can later haunt you — because if your coworker is gossiping with you, the chances are that they'll gossip to others and share your opinions and two cents if you give them up, too. So if your gossiping coworker emails or messages you gossip, and you feel the need to respond at all (it's best to ignore these kinds of messages, but ignoring people you work with can get awkward), keep your comments neutral and uninterested so as to respectfully end the conversation.

If your gossiping coworker approaches you in the office, politely let them know that you're busy and don't have time to chit chat. The more you turn them away, the less they'll approach you and the more they'll turn to others in the workplace instead. You may even consider putting in headphones at work or closing your office door if you have one to let this person know that you're unavailable to talk about anything unrelated to the work at hand. 

2. The Stiff Competitor

Competition in the office can be healthy — it motivates people and pushes them to do more and to do better. But there's also a very fine line between healthy competition and backstabbing in the workplace. A colleague who is always putting you down to lift themselves up and look better, for example, is a stiff competitor who is not someone with whom you want to engage. They're the kind of coworker who is likely stealing your credit and throwing you under the bus for minimal mistakes, not because those mistakes need to be corrected and taken to higher authorities, but because they want to improve their own image at work by pushing you and others below them.

How to Deal: Have a candid conversation.

The competitor in the workplace is a tough person with whom to deal because they're likely strategic. The competition can also cause "gaslighting" so that you start to question your own value and worth in the workplace, which only helps them in their pursuit of bringing you down. If you feel as though your colleague may be out to get you, it's best to first try to have a conversation with them one on one to talk to them about your concerns.
If, however, you don't feel like a mature and professional conversation is possible, or if you worry that a conversation could exacerbate the problem, it is probably a good idea to turn to your human resources department and make them aware of your concerns. This way, a third party can keep an eye on the situation, evaluate it and, hopefully, step in to improve the situation if it has already hit a point at which that's necessary or if it escalates.

3. The Chit Chatter

The chit chatter is, of course, the person in the office who always comes in to chew your ear off instead of to actually get their work done. In doing so, they don't allow you to get your work done either. Rather, you're stuck listening to their weekend escapades, relationship drama and anything and everything about their children's current school project or that grad school exam about which they're stressed or their recent ugly divorce or that random health problem they're having.

How to Deal: Avoid conversing.

The chit chatter can consume a lot of your time and energy, and that's why it's important to set boundaries around them. It's easy to get wrapped up in conversations at work that aren't about work. So pop in some headphones, close your office door or respectfully let your colleague know that you're too busy to talk now, but that you're happy to lend an ear or catch up over lunch or after work (only if you truly are). Again, the more you turn them away, the more they'll move away from talking to you and finding someone else with whom to spill TMI and overshare.

4. The Drama Queen/King

The drama queen or king is the coworker in the office who is always making a bigger deal out of situations or stirring up drama out of thin air.  They're the kind of coworker who will only add stress to a tight deadline or inflate a current dilemma even more by fear mongering or being an alarmist.

How to Deal: Stay out of it.

Your only way to deal with a drama queen or king is to not allow yourself to get sucked into the drama. Do your best to keep a level head and a peaceful state of mind. If you need to hit the gym, meditate, journal, prioritize a to-do list or do something else to keep calm and grounded despite inevitable issues that'll arise in the office, do it. But whatever you do, just don't allow the drama to consume you.

5. The One Who's Always Late

The coworker who is always late is doesn't have to be the one who's strolling into the office well after your start time every day. It could also be the person who is always just 10 minutes behind, but holds up the entire morning meeting because they are. Sure, 10 minutes doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it adds up to be a lot of other peoples' wasted time after a while.

How to Deal: Do your best to not let it affect you.

If you have to work with the person who is always late, and you rely on their punctuality, do your best to change what's in your control. Of course, if you've already spoken to the human resources department and your coworker about their tardiness, and there hasn't been a change in their behavior, then you can't change them; the only thing you can change is your own mentality. So do what you can to ensure that their being late doesn't affect your work.

6. The Brown Nose

The brown nose is the coworker who is always kissing up to leaders in the workplace. This person usually gets to the office early, leaves late and doesn't take their paid time off.  This person is likely to burn themselves out, of course, but their intentions are to show authority just how hard working they are (you may know that working longer doesn't necessarily mean working smarter or better, but that's their problem).

How to Deal: Focus on yourself.

Ignore this person. Don't let what they're doing effect what you're doing. So long as you're getting your work done and performing well, don't even waste your time concerning yourself with what others are doing in the workplace. Focus on yourself.

7. The One Who's Always out of the Office

This is the person who is always out of the office and never available. Of course, people are allowed to take their paid time off — and they most certainly should (you should, too!). But this is the person who is always taking extra time off or taking time off during the most hectic times, paying no mind to how their absence effects others in the workplace. They're not setting up for their absence either by allocating their work while they're gone or finding coverage and planning ahead; rather, they're constantly leaving everyone to deal with the mess they leave behind.

How to Deal: Make a plan.

This is a sticky situation because people are allowed to and should take their time off. Have a conversation with your coworker the next time they're around about what would be helpful for you that they could do the next time. If they consistently let you down, it might be time to have a conversation with human resources.

8. The Interrupter

The interrupter — you know this person. It's the person who is always talking over everyone else in meetings and throwing in their unsolicited two cents while others are speaking.

How to Deal: Interrupt back.

Interrupt the interrupter. Let them know that you're speaking, and you'll give them the mic in just a moment when you're finished sharing your piece. 

9. The Mansplainer

The mansplainer is the male in the office who is constantly explaining concepts to women in the office in a belittling, condescending and sexist way. They're disrespectful and show little regard for women's experience and/or skills in the workplace.

How to Deal: Talk to human resources.

While it's not your burden to quiet a mansplainer, since mansplainers shouldn't be mansplaining in the first place, it can be helpful for you to remind this person of your credentials. Of course, this can grow tiring, especially if they choose to ignore your credentials time and time again. This is a situation that's worthy of turning to human resources.

10. The Debby Downer

The Debby Downer in the office is the person who is always showing negativity. This person has little faith in the success of themselves and/or the company, and they often tend to behave like misery loves company. They can bring down your vibe and hurt the overall morale of the office.

How to Deal: Lift your own spirits.

How do you ignore a toxic coworker like the Debby Downer? Do what's in your control to keep your own spirits high. Again, you can't change others, but you can change how you act around and react to them. Do your best to spend as little time with this person as possible, so you don't pick up their negative energy. 

11. The Messy Coworker

The messy coworker is the one who has a cluttered desk that may or may not be spilling over onto yours. Clutter makes it difficult to work, even if it's not cluttering your personal workspace. Research consistently shows the clean, clear workspaces make people more productive and efficient, and someone else's mess can hurt your morale and cause them to lag behind, which can affect you, too, if you work together.

How to Deal: Clean up.

Have a conversation with your coworker about their messy workspace. Suggest that they clean it up. If that feels too uncomfortable of a conversation to have, recommend a clean-up day with multiple coworkers and lead by example. They may feel more inclined to clean up if you and others around them are doing the same.

12. The Clingy Coworker

The clingy coworker is the one who is always around — whether or not you're even at the office. They're always at your desk when you're there, and they're always messaging and emailing you even when you're home and on the weekends while your away. This person can drain you of your energy.

How to Deal: Set boundaries.

How do you get rid of a clingy coworker? It's best to set boundaries. Don't answer messages or emails that aren't necessary to answer while you're not at work, and make it a point to cut communication while you are in the office to suggest that you're not available to hang out and chit chat. You're busy with a job to do, and they should be, too.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.