Relationships with coworkers can be tricky. You spend an enormous amount of time around them, but you generally don’t get to choose who they are. There’s professional pressure to maintain reasonably good relations with them, which means that you can’t always speak your mind — and yet their behavior can have a huge impact on your quality of life at work, and sometimes on your work itself.
Given all of this, it can be tough to tell a coworker when they’re doing something that frustrates or annoys you.
But so often, just approaching the problem in the right way will get you the results you want without introducing the kind of tension you might be fearing. Here are some of the most common ways your coworkers might be driving you crazy — and what you can say to them without torpedoing the relationship.
1. Your coworker makes too much noise.
2. Your coworker is unbearably negative.
3. Your coworker asks nosy questions.
4. You were rude to someone.
5. Your coworker keeps making judgy comments about your snacks.
6. Coworker doesn’t respond to your emails.
7. Coworker is a know-it-all who tries to tell you how to do your work.
8. You’re allergic to your coworker’s perfume.
9. You’re being pressured to donate money toward a coworker’s gift.
10. You need to tell a coworker you don’t want to be friends outside of work.
11. You'd like a coworker to stop texting you outside of work.
12. You accidentally trash-talked someone on an email they were cc’d on.
13. You got drunk at a company party.
This article is adapted from Alison Green’s new book, Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work.
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