Author and motivational speaker Rick Brinkman has been speaking to companies for over two decades. In the mid-'90s he co-authored the workplace classic, "Dealing With People You Can't Stand," utilizing psychological research to help co-workers avoid brawling in the cubicles.
What's the most common type of annoying co-worker?
Annoying is in the eye of the beholder, and there are different types of annoying people. For instance: If someone makes commitments they don't keep, I might find that annoying to no end. But you may intuitively know how to slow down and make it safe for that person to make a realistic commitment. Your particular annoyance may be whining. But that doesn't even show up on my radar.
How do you know if you are, in fact, the annoying person at work?
When people read our book, they tend to recognize what they do very quickly. It's somewhat innocent, and we all do at least one of these behaviors now and again. It's just that there are certain ones we're more likely to go to under stress.
How do you cut back on your own annoying behaviors?
You can start by recognizing the particular type of negative behavior that comes out of you under stress. Then ask yourself, "How is this working for me? Am I getting what I want? What reactions am I getting from others?" Usually people find that this behavior is creating their own worst nightmare. Once they realize that, it's easier to change.
Is there a difference between how we exhibit these behaviors at home versus the workplace?
Yes! It can be totally opposite. Some people are a total “tank” [overly controlling] at work and a “nothing” [nonresponsive] at home. I recently interviewed a CEO who was very much a get-it-done control person at work. But she noticed she was whining to her husband about the business. Her husband could not understand how she could run a company, because she constantly presented herself as a victim. But the behavior is totally different, because the context of the relationship is totally different.