Ask the Etiquette Expert:
I love my job and enjoy my office mates with one exception. I work directly next to a colleague who bellows his accomplishments in a loud voice and makes foolish jokes, often at the expense of others on the team. I’d like to say I simply tune him out, but his behavior is often difficult to ignore. Any advice?
Loving what you do and working with great people is a blessing! That said, I understand how the behavior of one coworker could be annoying. Though his actions are irritating, it is quite possible to maintain your professionalism and keep the quality of your work high.
Here are six of my tips to rise above:
Limit time spent together. If you work closely with each other, avoiding an abrasive coworker is out of the question. However, you can minimize the time you socialize with them outside of your direct work relationship. Remember, you aren’t obligated to take them up on their invitation to an event unrelated to your assignment. This will help create a buffer between you and your associate.
Keep your personal life separate. Practice discretion when it comes to divulging details about your relationship(s).
It’s perfectly acceptable to let them know you don’t have time to chat because you are swamped.
Play by the rules. Remain above reproach when it comes to following company policy, being on time with projects, and keeping your boss informed on your progress. You will have a clear conscience as you work with focus, and your supervisor will likely notice your dedication.
Build strong ties with other colleagues. Spend your time bonding with peers who are invested in the company, willing to do their best, and interested in building a successful career. Align yourself with those that you trust and know will have your best interest at heart.
Sit down and talk. If your colleague is consistently impeding your work, ask if you can meet with them to discuss how you can both collaborate together towards a common goal. Perhaps they are unaware of their behavior and giving them the benefit of the doubt may be all it takes to turn the situation around.
Confide in your supervisor. At some point, a confidential meeting with your boss may be in order. Be prepared to cite specific examples during your discussion. Maintain your professionalism and stay calm. The solution could be as simple as a request to change offices, or as serious as a consideration to relocate or leave the job. Think carefully about what you want to say to your boss and carefully weigh your options.
For more of my advice on handling a difficult situation, check out my article, The Etiquette of Fighting Fair, on The Huffington Post.