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Dealing with a work-devil

Don’t put up with annoying colleagues. Beat them at the game.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2011 01:37 IST
Sonal Kalra

It’s not as if I dislike my work, just that I sit next to a jerk… No, I’ve not suddenly taken to bad poetry. These are words of a song I wrote in frustration many years back, dedicated, of course, to an annoying colleague. The reason I’m remembering them today is because I just had a conversation with a friend who’s ready to throw in the towel on a job she loves, only because of a co-worker, who’s painfully talented at being irritating.

We’ve all faced them at some point — annoying souls who make our work life miserable. But you know why they are able to do so, don’t you? Because we let them. Know that you are dealing with a pestolleague (my term for a colleague who is a pest), if your co-worker is...

1 Married…to his/her phone: These people owe their lives to Graham Bell, but never bother to realise that their constant talking on the phone is disturbing the hell out of people around them. And somehow by Almighty’s grace, these are the people who also happen to be naturally gifted with a loud, booming voice, that doesn’t even need a phone to reach overseas.

Tip:
Beginners:
First try politely telling them you don’t enjoy listening to their fight with their boy/girl friend anymore.
Extreme: Cut their phone cable and blame it on the rat. Or keep calling their cellphone while they are talking, and let the call waiting tone bug them no end.

2 A Permanent patient: These people specialise in calling-in sick, or looking unwell, on all crucial days, so that the work burden falls neatly on your shoulders. Even their bodies are naturally gifted in pretending to look pale and shrivelled the next day, for effect.

Tip:
Beginners:
Ask them endless questions about what exactly did they suffer with. While your boss is in earshot, ask them to name the medicines they took.
Extreme: Pretend to show genuine concern and insist on taking them to hospital. Call the bluff.

3 A Phd - in passing the buck: These colleagues have a special talent — of taking credit when something goes right and squarely shifting the blame when it doesn’t. And since being chaploos (sychophant) No.1 comes freely with this talent, the boss too often gets misled in believing them.

Tip:
Beginners:
Be very formal and organised in your email communication about work responsibilities. It may seem silly to people initially but you’ll have the last laugh if you have documented proof that what went wrong was your colleague’s doing.
Extreme: Confront them in front of the boss and ask them to look you in the eye and say it was your fault. Thankfully, courage and conviction are things ‘pestolleagues’ usually don’t have. Count on that.

4 A gossipmonger: Such people look for thrills in life by behaving like professional well-wishers and then bitching behind your back. They mostly forget that those who gossip with them, are sure to gossip about them, later.

Tip:
Beginners:
Ignore them at first. As Dilbert said, “If you spend all of your time arguing with people who are nuts, you’ll be exhausted and the nuts will still be nuts.”
Extreme: If you can’t handle the ignoring part, go upto them and say, softly but very firmly “I do not want you to EVER discuss me in my absence with anyone. Understood?” They usually get it. Cowards, remember?

Sonal Kalra wants to institute a ‘most annoying colleague’ award in her office. But she’s scared that she may get nominated for constantly pestering everyone to vote.

Mail your calmness tricks to her at sonal.kalra@hindustantimes.com