If you work in an office, you probably have a colleague that constantly gets under your skin. He might be the ultra-competitive type who will stop at nothing to put you down and get ahead. Or maybe it’s the know-it-all who refuses to believe that anyone else is capable of coming up with smart solutions in the workplace.
The problem, of course, is that having a toxic coworker can not only make you miserable, but in some cases it can inhibit your productivity. And in a study last year by leadership development company Fierce, Inc., more than 52% of U.S. employees said a single coworker increased their stress levels at work. Meanwhile, 13% said having a boring coworker increased their likelihood of returning to and completely quitting their job.
Obviously, you can’t let a mean coworker ruin your work life forever. The question is, how do you formally complain about this person in a way that doesn’t make you look bad yourself? After all, as an employee, you are supposed to make an effort to get along with your peers and learn to work with them.
While reporting an embarrassing coworker to a manager or HR representative can be uncomfortable at best, it is a step you may eventually need to take. Here’s how to handle the situation so that your reputation doesn’t take a beating in the process.
1. Keep Track of Your Coworker’s Inappropriate Behavior
Speaking to your manager or HR department the first time a coworker takes turn can backfire and make you seem mean and impatient. While you don’t want to let things pile up too much, a better approach is to establish a pattern of unwarranted behavior on the part of your coworker. Keep a spreadsheet showing the date and time of each incident in which your coworker acts inappropriately, along with a detailed description of what happened. If other people have witnessed your coworker’s actions, write this down as well. There is a good chance that this coworker will deny his behavior, so you might need other people to help you.
2. Present your complaint in the context of your performance, not your feelings.
Having a bossy or obnoxious coworker can make you personally miserable, but it’s not really something you should share with your boss. A better approach is to highlight the ways that coworker is negatively impacting your performance, whether that’s sabotaging your efforts on key projects or interrupting you when trying to set tasks to meet deadlines. . Keeping the focus of this discussion on the work side of things, and not the personal side, is likely to make a more impression on the superior you are speaking to.
3. Affirm your commitment to solving problems
A final way to complain about a coworker without damaging your own reputation within your company is to make it clear that your goal is not to get your coworker fired or fire the team, but rather to find a way to work well together. It will help you look more professional in an otherwise awkward situation. Better yet, come up with your own suggestions on what might help you and just ask your boss or HR rep to act as a kind of go-between.
Dealing with a boring coworker is never fun. Follow these tips, and hopefully you’ll get the intervention you need to stop that coworker from ruining an otherwise decent job.