Annoyed by Your Coworker?

Navigating the pen-clicking, loud-talking, over-perfumed world of office irritations
Annoyed by Your Coworker?
Image: Hendrik Wieduwilt / Flickr

After decades in the corporate world, I’ve encountered my share of office annoyances.

Tom had a habit of dominating meetings, cutting people off, or talking over them to make his points. I found Gary’s constant need for affirmation and promotion exhausting. Karen was very sweet, and so was her perfume, but it gave me headaches every time I came in close proximity. Rick liked to take his calls on speakerphone—I could hear the details of his conversations even through my closed office door.

The people and personalities that challenge us at work are the ones that offer the greatest chance for personal growth and missional impact.

I had plenty of wonderful, considerate colleagues, too, and when I look back, those are the people I think about most. But the people and personalities that challenge us at work are the ones that offer the greatest chance for personal growth and missional impact. Learning to get along with your coworkers (even, or maybe especially, the annoying ones) is a part of your Christian calling, and it also happens to be essential for your career.

Here are some ways to work through the annoyances and make the best of it.

Don’t stew. The typical office annoyance starts with something very small but can quickly escalate out of proportion. If something is bothering you at work, there are two basic options for handling it in a healthy way: you can choose to take action and try to work it out with the person responsible, or you can choose to let it go. You absolutely must choose. Grumbling about office annoyances to yourself (or others) only causes distractions and wastes precious time and energy. It also tends to harden your heart toward your colleagues.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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