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Dr. Bob Wright | November 10, 2015

Pet Peeves:
How to Deal with
Annoying People at Work

We’ve all had to deal with annoyances in the workplace before. Maybe it’s the coworker who’s constantly talking or someone who’s always leaving the breakroom a mess.



We’ve all had to deal with annoyances in the workplace before. Maybe it’s the coworker who’s constantly talking or someone who’s always leaving the breakroom a mess. Maybe it’s the client who pushes their weight around, making you wonder when you signed up to be their personal assistant.

What can we learn about ourselves from these conflicts at work? When is it time to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH and confront the situation head on?

Oftentimes we have to pick our battles in the office. You shouldn’t shy away from engagement and confrontation, but if a coworker is seemingly innocent in their transgression (yes, maybe their nail clipping grosses you out but it’s not hurting you), then weigh out the merit of confronting them. Will bringing it up resolve the issue? Is it something within their control to fix?

For small grievances, a polite, direct approach will often be enough to defuse the behavior. Getting up and closing your office door will give the whistler the hint or saying, “I’m working on an important report right now and I’m having difficulty concentrating. Would you mind taking your lunch into the breakroom?” Problem solved. Most minor things can be resolved simply by bringing them up.

What About Workplace Bullies?

Sometimes the “annoyances” go too far. When coworkers are picking on another employee, they’re bullying. You know what? Bullies are insecure. They align with the overshared criticism of others, not out of higher value, and they feel more secure by teasing and being mean to those around them.

To really make a teasing bully step back, use a bit of humor in your approach and turn it back on them. What would most bullies do if you said, “Melvin, I wanted your help with something. What should I do about a coworker who’s picking on another employee and making fun of him?” He’ll know you’re referring to him and he’ll feel sheepish.

When you turn it around on them, bullies have no choice but to examine their approach. Unless they’re a real jerk, they’ll usually simmer down and get your point: their “humor” is hurtful and not everyone is laughing.

Give your boss a heads up before you approach a bully; not in a tattletale way, but so you have your boss’ blessing (and in case there are other formal complaints already filed). If you feel things are veering into dangerous territory or someone is getting violent or physically hurt, then it’s definitely a bigger issue requiring management intervention.

What about That Guy Who Always Has to Have The Last Word?

What do you do about pushy people who always want to have the last word? Maybe they aren’t bullies, but they’re certainly annoying. We can get stuck in a trap of one-upping time and time again. What a waste of time!

The reality is every “know-it-all” is coming from a place of insecurity and competitiveness. True experts rarely have to prove themselves by finishing every thought or one-upping anyone. In fact, the most intelligent leaders ask questions, listen, and guide their constituents to a shared vision they help them to understand. They don’t need to prove their leadership, because they’re already in the role naturally.

It can be annoying but what we really need to embrace is a mastery of ourselves. To learn and grow and maximize our time here on Earth takes work, and listening, and responsibility. Constantly talking and cutting off other people doesn’t make us win.

It goes back to ancient philosophy and as far as biblical times—finding fault with others doesn’t negate the fault within ourselves. It’s looking ahead with clarity on our own lives, rather than trying to point it out in others. If someone needs to have the last word, then be secure enough to let him or her have it. Everyone else, including you, will see through the transparent insecurity.

What YOU Can Learn From Annoying Clients?

What happens when it’s your client or your boss who irritates you? We’ve all had “high maintenance” clients who drove us up the wall. Do you know why they drive us so crazy? Because we know we didn’t do the right work upfront. They upset us because we’re mad at ourselves.

It sounds strange at first, but the truth is, clients are our bosses. They pay our salary and it’s our job to keep them happy. If they’re demanding more work than you can produce, then it means you didn’t clearly outline the agreement beforehand. You didn’t ask for compensation to cover the costs of doing business with them or the amount of work they would require. You didn’t value yourself enough to ask for what you deserve.

Granted, it can be hard to anticipate a job upfront and there are times when things take longer or require more effort. If you find you’re frustrated by the demands of a client, customer or constituent, then take a hard look at what you expected the job to be. More often than not, you’ll find your frustration stems from an internal conflict. Do you resent your client because they’re successful? Are you projecting something onto them?

You cannot change your customer. It’s not your job to point out to them that they’re facing a growth opportunity and should evolve accordingly. It’s your job to do the work. Your job is to keep them happy—so value your work and your ability to keep them happy enough to ask for proper compensation.

Look in the Mirror

We’re all here learning how to be whole, complete, conscious and more powerful so we can bring about rational systems and change. We must bring about our own internal systems and work on our fundamentals so we can meet the task. Difficult and annoying people are a blessing in disguise. They give us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and grow.

Reframe the way you look at difficult and annoying people. How exciting that we get a chance to really roll up our sleeves and do some transformational work, since these types of people demand it of us. We’re amassing our internal power through our interactions with others to serve the world around us and bring about positive change.

If you want to know more about how to work on your own social and emotional intelligence and growth, visit us at More Life Training. Don’t miss our transformative high-value weekend.


Want to boost your career? If you’d like to learn more about what the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential has to offer check out:

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About the Author

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Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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