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Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Hi folks, it's like a Dilbert cartoon. Just asking out of frustration here, hoping you might have some advice on how to manage this. It's like I'm constantly butting heads with this guy. I'm a senior engineer in one section and he's a non-engineer manager in another section.

To give you an idea, he lectures me on various protocols, nit-picks, he's a micro-manager, suspicious, and doesn't like to take no for an answer. And if I respond to him with any sort of frustration, he'll tell my boss (who is also sick of this guy) or he'll go to the director (who hired the guy). This kind of behavior just isn't normal. He's a very intelligent, pain in the arse who just wears me down.

All right, sorry for the whining here ... I'm to the point where it's stressing me out and affecting my work though. I don't like dealing with him, let alone talking to him, but unfortunately I have to. Otherwise, I love my work and the people I work with. Any good, professional comebacks that you use to get people off your back or give them a hint? I know what I'd like to say, but he'll act like the victim. It's a delicate situation. banghead

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Smile, nod, say, 'Uh huh, yeah, mmmm hmmm. Tell you what, Bob, shoot me an email on that, would you? Perfect, thanks.'

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

I have had this before. You need to log every instance. Tell your manager.
Stand up to the guy in a non-threatening manner.
If it escalates after this, send a copy of your log to HR.

Chris, CSWA
SolidWorks '15
ctophers home
SolidWorks Legion

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Sounds good TenPenny, pretty non-confrontational.

Agreed ctopher, I've been logging this stuff for the past year or so. I think it's getting to that time to just lower the boom.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Smile and nod, do exactly what he says (provided its not completely "wrong.") When someone asks why you're spending half your day on it, just explain it.

1) He'll get bored and go mess with someone else
2) Somebody will set some guidelines for directing other manager's direct reports

The fastest way to flush it out is to emphasize (but be subtle) when your manager's priorities conflict with this other guy's.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

The suggestion to communicate in writing is a good one. It'll be easier for you to keep your cool, and to demonstrate to others that he's the source of the problem rather than you.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Where are these places you expect to work that only employ people who YOU like working with?

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

I don't know what's your question. You say you don't like to work with him but then say you have to work with him. I don't see the confusion or problem.

Well, you could always go to HR and tell them that in spite of any contributions that he or those kind of people make, all HR and management hiring decisions should go through you so as to not hire anyone that could potentially annoy you.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

There is a concealed method to TenPenny's comment... documentation, documentation, documentation.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Wait it out. No work relationship lasts forever. He'll get transferred, promoted where you won't have to deal with him for a while, quit or die.
And if you're frustrated, just think of above.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Of course I've never been accused of being an irritating co-worker wink...oh, never mind that. Other than tolerant patience, some approaches I've used in the past:
  • pretty much all of the above is excellent advice, including making sure that you aren't the problem
  • get the guy away in a non-threatening, non-confrontational neutral environment and explain how you want to work with him but his behavior and manner is really abrasive and counter might be that he's an utterly clueless flaming insecure sociopath with his own set of neuroses and problems who has no idea that he's offended the entire office staff to the point that someone is waiting to club him with a tire iron in the parking lot. Not that I've ever worked for someone like that or had thoughts like those wink.
  • get a neutral intermediary to have this same conversation with him
  • deploy the "nuclear option" of keeping the verifiable, collaborative records mentioned above and having a serious talk with the HR Weasels while using the Kryptonite Words like harassment, hostile workplace, and so on. Careful with that though, requires a sympathetic HR Department and much delicacy because this conversation could seriously damage your own position. I was at the end of my rope once when I worked for Satan and I used this strategy to effectively control his behavior. It turned out everyone had been abused by this guy who was out of control and all that was needed was a bold move like mine to set the wheels of change turning.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Thanks everyone. Points well taken. Annoyances are everywhere, and I'm certainly not perfect. I let this guy get under my skin and the gut feeling, in the thick of things, is wanting to lash out at him. Your comments are much appreciated. I'm just going to keep it professional and try to stay on the high road, while documenting problems for my own protection. Others are complaining about him so maybe it is just a matter of things running their course and him moving on to somewhere else. Funny how that works.

I hope you all have a happy holiday!

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Sounds like there might be an inferiority complex at play in his mind. People feel threatened for unusual reasons, and fight-or-flight is the typical eventual response. He's fighting you by asserting some needed superiority. With pro-active jerks, it can make the workplace unpleasant. One could try propping him up by asking help on some unimportant detail, keep him busy on staying out of your way, so to speak. This kind of game playing usually isn't a long term solution, but it can alleviate those days when you just need a break. Then there's always psy-ops and sabotage (half joking).

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

I'd do stuff to intentionally tick him off, but I'm a jerk.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Is he just pedantic or patronizing? I typically accept all help, however I consider any suggestion made more than 2 times to be a red flag that the person making the suggestion is dealing with personal control issues.

My posts reflect my personal views and are not in any way endorsed or approved by any organization I'm professionally affiliated with.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

I'd reverse the situation: go to him first for his view or ideas on protocols or review of your work, don't just thank him for his input, praise him for it. Be annoying with it. You don't have to agree with his ideas. Document all of his 'input'...everything. Even put out meeting minutes with who said what, even if it only gets sent to you and him.

One thing I've learned the hard way in documenting and sending to HR, is I usually would do it when I'm mad, and it just makes me look like I'm the e a-hole (and I probably have been at some time or another). Write it down, then wait a few days before re-reading and sending.

This is normally the space where people post something insightful.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Pedantic, kontiki. I have no doubt there are control "issues" amongst other "issues." After tygerdawg's boss-from-hell comment though, this guy's not sounding so bad now in comparison!

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

My experience with people like that is they are desperately need in of attention and affirmation. Pretty much like narcissists, the best way to handle them is to avoid them. If you can't avoid them, then do not apologize, compliment or get angry, it feeds into their control and attention plans. Just remember there is whole lot of bad mental health out there in the world, and some people are totally devoid of empathy.

RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

TenPenny nailed it. Just have him send an email and when you have the time you can hit reply. That way everything is already documented, you don't have to deal with the in-your-face discussions (which is probably contributing mightily to your irritation) and you have enough time to organize your thoughts and send a fact-based, non-confrontational reply. Perfect.


RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Well, I avoided my version this morning as he was walking toward me by walking at a pace that kept a pillar in our line of site.

Pathetic but I just couldn't start out my week with a conversation with him.

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RE: Need Advice Dealing with a Super-Annoying Co-worker

Document, document, document.

I read this fella's books last year and learned a whole lot about human behavior. It completely changed my ways of thinking about some people. I would suggest reading at least Character Disturbance. Dr. George Simon, Ph.D.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

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