By: Dr. Gwen Smith
I’ve been listening to comments about people hating their jobs for various reasons. In this article we’ll talk about those annoying co-workers who continuously suck the life and energy out of your space.
Characteristics of problem co-workers
Co-workers can be very cooperative and pleasant friends or they can be the complete opposite: enemies. People hate their co-workers for various reasons.
Regardless of the reason for having a less than favorable co-worker, your mental health and well-being need to be guarded. Allowing different situations to impact your moods will deplete you mentally, emotionally, psychological and eventually physically over time. You’ll need to guard your mental health.
Focusing on You
Consequently you will be the main focus in all of these circumstances as it’s impossible to change anyone else. Though I know you would love to wave a magic wand to make everything around you conform, the disappointing reality is that it doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to look out for you. This doesn’t help your pain and disappointment and you may really be racking your mind trying to figure out a solution.
Often when we are personally involved in a situation solutions don’t come as readily. Feeling stuck and helpless can be an undesirable side effect. I’ve been there so I know how it feels.
It has nothing to do with how intelligent you are, or how much of a problem solver you are for others. When you are personally involved, at times the solution comes in slow motion, and sometimes not without some external catalyst.
Knowing some general guidelines by which to operate from, beforehand, will help you when you find yourself in certain situations.
We’ll discuss three types of negative co-workers in this article:
- The slacker
- The gossip and tale bearer
- The Chronic complainer
The Slacker Co-Worker
Having a co-worker that brings down the quality and timeliness of your work can cause undue stress especially if everyone’s performance suffers. It can be frustrating if your work depends on someone else that’s not pulling their share of the work.
What you may find yourself doing is picking up the slack for your co-worker because you want to produce good results. You find yourself making excuses on their behalf.
This is not a healthy situation for you or your co-worker. It’s enabling them to continue without recourse and it’s prolonging your stress in the situation.
The first thing to do is to approach your co-worker and have them be aware of how their actions are impacting you or the team. Ask how you can support them in fulfilling their responsibilities.
One idea is to create a flow chart of timelines to help them pace themselves so you can meet your deadlines. Another idea is to engage your other co-workers in arriving at a solution to help them and the entire team. A last resort is to really let them know that you are unable to continue to pick up the slack and that you will be requesting assistance from your supervisor. The threshold for endurance is in your court and you determine long you can really endure the situation. Before it gets chronic, try taking the steps above.
The Gossipy and Tale-Bearing Co-Worker
Do you find yourself gossiping about the gossiping co-worker? Sometimes that’s the natural thing we want to do. However, consider that you may be placing yourself in the same category as this person you are trying to escape.
Years ago I participated in The Dale Carnegie Training. In his first principle he said: “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.” Truthfully it’s very hard to do when you feel justified in shedding light on the problem. I’ve seen people transform their workplaces by simply saying these words, however: “I’ve made a commitment to say positive things about people going forward”. “Don’t take it personally if I no longer comment”.
When I did that course, there were so many transformational stories coming out of the various workplaces from people who had put this principle in practice. It really works.
When your co-worker bares tales and has the boss’s ears that can spell danger for your security. In such a case careful documentation with pictures, notes, and files are great. You may find yourself having to protect your project by securing your files with a password or with lock and key. Sending an email to yourself with your electronic files is a great back up as well.
The Chronically Complaining, Negative Co-Worker
Some people complain for everything. When you’re around someone who complains it can be burdensome and draining. If you’ve offered ideas for solutions to the complainer and that doesn’t help, then it’s time to start protecting yourself. Reverse complaining does nothing.
Get a headset while you work at your desk to listen to music to drown out the sound. Excuse yourself from conversations when it starts to attend to ‘something else’. And the best of all is to throw down a challenge for them to offer suggestions for improvement for each complaint or negative comment they make.
If no one listens, the complainer will run out of steam. He or she cannot continue without an audience forever. So, stop listening.
Your other option…
For your complete sanity and well-being, once you’ve tried several strategies without noticeable results, it’s time to find another job. Start looking especially if it’s beginning to affect you emotionally and psychologically.
When you do start, however, be sure that you are really finding a job that you’ll completely love. Loving your job can help you reduce the appearance of the significance of many of the problems that are caused by co-workers in the workplace.
Get a free guide to help you identify the work you’ll love!
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