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When a co-worker is driving you crazy

Can’t we all just get along? That’s a tall order when a co-worker’s every move annoys you. You cringe at the constant laughing, yelling across the office or apple-polishing with the boss. Your teeth start grinding the second he or she arrives for work. What to do? Quitting your job probably isn’t an option. And a confrontation may come back to haunt you during your annual review.

Keep it to yourself

Instead, examine and change your own attitudes. You may be surprised to find your perspective will improve. Why, you may even learn to like your nemesis after all. And you’ll reduce stress, a factor in heart disease and a host of other ills.

Try these tips when someone’s workplace quirks are driving you crazy:

  • Lose control. You cannot change another person. Acceptance is a much healthier, less frustrating choice than trying to control behavior.
  • Lighten up. Instead of grousing about a co-worker, strike up a conversation, relate an experience or share a joke. Look for something in common. At the same time, appreciate that everyone is unique.
  • Take another look. Pin down the real reasons someone bugs you. Is he or she happier, more popular or more esteemed, perhaps? Such comparisons may spring more from your own insecurity than from anything he or she is doing.
  • Play by the rules. What kind of co-worker are you? Being polite, asking permission and helping others are workplace manners worth your while.

If you’re still losing your temper at someone else, get away and cool off. When discussing a problem, don’t lash out. Instead, go to a private spot and use calm “I” statements to explain your feelings, such as “I feel that my work suffers if you and I aren’t communicating. Can we brainstorm more often?” Most important, hear the other side, too, and work to change the things you can.