I have two colleagues whom I often get annoyed with. I don’t believe the details are too important — suffice to say that their lack of planning sometimes causes me to have to do extra work. I have brought up the issue with each of them in turn but the situation has not improved.

The extra workload is not significant enough to disrupt the rest of my job. And no longer working with them is not an option at the moment. I believe it would be easiest for everyone (myself included) if I could just let my irritation go and accept that they are more challenging to work with than my other colleagues.

However, I find myself struggling to ignore my frustration at each new example of what I see as their lack of respect for my time. I am wondering if anyone has dealt with colleagues like this in the past and if they have strategies or suggestions that could help me accept the situation.

  • Looking for strategies to reduce my irritation and accept the situation. Thanks! – EponymousBosch Jun 5 '19 at 22:26
  • Learn to live and let live. Sounds trite...but just realize you're above petty overreactions and just let it all roll off you. – Keith Jun 5 '19 at 22:27
  • If it's only a question related to your own emotion, that's a bit beyond the scope of this site. I would recommend speaking to a therapist, or just ignoring the problem if it doesn't bother you that much. – Bernhard Barker Jun 5 '19 at 22:36
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    For others who may come across this — I found a book titled (perhaps undiplomatically) The Schmuck in My Office: How to Deal Effectively With Difficult People at Work that might be helpful. – EponymousBosch Jun 6 '19 at 0:31
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    I have a stuffed animal at my desk that I take with me on quick walks around the building whenever I get frustrated. It helps a lot to rant to. She's a very good listener. – pip install frisbee Jun 6 '19 at 12:52

Good on you for already sharing some feedback with your colleagues.

Given that your initial feedback didn't have the desired effect, here are some potential follow-up options:

1. More feedback - Don't be afraid to give the same feedback more than once. Offer concrete examples of the behaviors you dislike and how they effect you. E.g., "Yesterday I saw you ..., and it made me feel ... ."

2. Suggest new working norms - If the behaviors happen in specific circumstances suggest norms that mitigate or pre-empt those circumstances. E.g., if your colleague routinely fails to prepare for a presentation, suggest that your team have regular check-ins (15min every morning) where individuals share progress on their tasks and can ask for help or escalation.

3. Talk to a confidant - Sometimes it helps to share feelings and let someone else share a perspective on the situation. Consider discussing your feelings with a trusted colleague in a different department, a close friend or partner, or a psychologist.

4. Create distance - You said that not working together isn't an option, but could you work in a physically removed space (e.g., take a laptop to an empty meeting room) to give yourself some time away from reminders of your feelings?

5. Stop fire-fighting and proactively offer help - It sounds like you're picking up the slack of your colleague. If this often happens at the last minute, stop intervening in those final moments to "save the day" and instead offer your help earlier in the process. If it is declined, share your concern about potential failure.

The other ideas in the comments are great as well. Let us know how it goes.


Looking for strategies to reduce my irritation and accept the situation. Thanks!

I don't think I answered this straight on. #3, 4, 5 may be all that is relevant to you. Regardless, I encourage you to consider what you can do to help your colleague improve (e.g., more feedback) -- both for your sake and his/hers.

  • I feel that the more feedback approach should be taken carefully. It might work or not work, depending on why do those colleagues behave the way they do. Feedback could do good if they didn't realize their behavior is irritating someone. However, if they already do realize that, but still are reluctant to change their behavior, then the feedback would only serve to annoy them for no good outcome. Which means that now we have negative feelings on both sides, which is hardly an improvement. – Igor G Jun 6 '19 at 14:49
  • These are great, and the suggestions you made in numbers 1 and 2 are good ones for potentially resolving some of these issues. Thank you! – EponymousBosch Jun 7 '19 at 1:11

Of course, the main idea would be to work directly on the source of the irritation. If changing colleagues is not an option, try to explain them the situation and bring them into empathising with you.

This is not guaranteed to work, so, if you want to calm your irritation, I would change my perspective and become aware of how priviledged you are compared to most of the human beings that have ever lived. The nuissances caused by your colleagues are annoying, but you are not in a life or death situation, so your problem is not as big as you think it is.

In short, the incompetence of your co-workers is forcing you to do some extra job. But for most of human history, the incompetence of your co-workers meant that you starved to death.

Remember, maybe you are not that bad after all. Be thankful for what you've got. With this mindset, anger will be a less frequent feeling

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