My Co-worker Sucks - What to do About it |

HELP! My Co-Worker Sucks! What To Do About It


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Mr. J biked to work every day. It was a far ride – and he decided early on, for some unknown reason, that he didn’t need to utilize the showers at his office. Instead he would shower himself in drug store cologne and head up to his desk to begin a long day of work.

His desk. Right beside mine.

Mr. J was my co-worker. My stinky coworker. To make matters worse, he had no idea what he was doing on the job. He was always making extra work for me. Mr. J sucked.

As long as your coworker is not abusive (emotionally, verbally, physically, etc) to you, chances are you can cope without making it a huge deal.

Unless you work alone all your life, you will – at some point – have coworkers who suck. From vaguely annoying to downright despicable, the range of suckery can vary.

Here are some common traits of the sucky coworker:

  • They love the sound of their own voice and they’re always talking.
  • They like to listen to music at work without any regard for others within earshot. Even worse, they listen to country music.
  • They’re always taking personal phone calls or texting during the workday.
  • They have terrible body odor.
  • They have terrible body odor and cover it up with drug store cologne.
  • They eat microwave popcorn in the office (that stuff reeks).
  • They whistle at their desk.
  • They’re lazy and do only just enough to get by.
  • They’re the office cheerleader. C’mon. Nobody gets that excited about a new photocopier.
  • They clip their fingernails at their desk. And God forbid, their toenails.
  • They’re never on time to meetings.
  • They ask simple questions when they could easily find the answers in Google.
  • They’re always miserable. They only open their mouth is to complain.
  • They’re always talking about other people during the day – and taking up your time with stories that you really don’t care about.
  • They talk over people.
  •  They book unnecessary meetings.

If your coworker does any of the above, they suck.

So how do you deal?  As long as your coworker is not abusive (emotionally, verbally, physically, etc) to you, chances are you can cope without making it a huge deal. If your coworker is abusive, you should start documenting your interactions and get Human Resources involved.  Abuse goes beyond ‘sucky co-worker’ and it should not be tolerated.

But here are some tips on how to deal with mild – to moderately sucky coworkers.

If you have your own Mr. J and the smell is making the office unbearable, it’s probably best to go through your boss. You don’t want to embarrass your co-worker, and your boss can gently remind him or her that there are dress and hygiene policies that need to be followed. If your boss won’t do that and the smell continues to impede your ability to do your job, go speak with HR.

If your boss isn’t taking action, and your coworker’s level of suck has not decreased, remember that there are always other jobs out there.

Does your sucky coworker spend two hours a day nibbling loudly on baby carrots, rice cakes or corn nuts? Do he or she have loud conversations in the office while you’re trying to concentrate on work?  Then you need to invest in a set of noise cancelling headphones. Trust me. I’ve spent many a day sitting at my desk with my headphones on, listening to nothing but the sweet sounds of silence. It’s the open-concept office savior.

Is your desk a regular stop for the office gossiper? Or worse, the office complainer? Are you finding that your days are being wasted by people who suck you into non-work-related conversations? Be straightforward but polite. Let him or her know that you’re just in the middle of something and you’ll pop by later to catch up.

Talking about your issues with someone can help put things into perspective. It might even help to come up with other creative solutions for how to deal with your coworker. I recommend finding someone outside of the office to complain to, just in case word gets back to the sucky coworker.

Is your coworker lazy? Always making personal calls, texting or surfing the Internet all day long? As long as the lazy coworker is not affecting your job, it’s best to ignore them and let your boss deal with it. If they are affecting your job – for example, increasing your workload because you have to pick up the slack, talk with your boss. Be sure to remain focused on how it’s affecting your productivity.

Got a cranky or mean coworker? Don’t let them bring you down. Bitchiness only begets bitchiness. Make a point of being a little nicer to the crankypants. They might realize how terrible they’re being, or they might find your upbeat positive attitude annoying and start avoiding you. Either way, it’s win-win.

Make time for yourself. Hang out with the family, go to yoga, bake some cookies, go for drinks with friends – whatever you love to do, do it. Don’t let your sucky coworker dictate your life outside of the office.

If your boss isn’t taking action, and your coworker’s level of suck has not decreased, remember that there are always other jobs out there. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to go find a new job, but if your coworker sucks that badly, it might be worth looking.

And Mr. J? He only lasted about six months until he was laid off. Patience is a virtue, friends.