Coworkers Morale

How to Address That Itchy Workplace Rash

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What does one do with the workplace rash? You know, that annoying coworker that clips his fingernails in the cubicle next door, grinds his teeth or that picks his peeling, sunburned skin (true story, by the way)!

Dealing with annoying people without giving offense is not an exact science. It is an art that you have to perfect with each offensive person you come in contact with … hopefully, there’s not THAT many, or you may want to start analyzing the finger of blame.

Real-Life Workplace Stories

Here are three actual workplace events, and we will break them out and give some practical advice on how you could handle this situation in your own work life.

1.  Jennifer writes: “I had a coworker take credit for an entire project that I did half the work for. She told the manager she single-handedly did it all by herself, right in front of me. I didn’t speak up because I figure karma will eventually get her back.”

Jennifer was playing the kindness card, and while karma definitely comes back around to bite people, should she have remained silent?

It depends.

If Jennifer would have come across as whiny and accusing to the manager, then she probably should have remained silent at that moment. Sometimes when shocking things happen at work, we are better served if we take a step back, formulate what we really want to say and then deliver our message forcefully and not sounding like a whining child.

Our opinion is that Jennifer definitely should have corrected that problem, if not at that moment, then shortly afterward in a private conversation with the manager. Bullies should always be put in their place, or they will continue their behavior and it will amplify.

2.  Mary writes: “I have had a lot of side by side time training people and there is a lady with horrific coffee smoker breath and when I offered gum … she said, ‘Oh no, I’m fine.’ I wanted to say, ‘No, no you aren’t!”

Should Mary say something more direct?

This is awkward because you don’t want to offend others, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of time with someone who REEKS.

Our opinion is that you carefully speak to the person about the situation. Say that you are very sensitive to smoke smells and that it would be very helpful if she could chew gum or pop a mint before you guys sit down to train with each other.

If you make it sound like your problem (your sensitivity to smells) then you are asking someone to help you out with your issues and not the other way around.

3.  Amanda writes: “I had one coworker who would make obscene gestures with his hands and his mouth.” (Use your imagination on this one).

There is no debate here at all. Amanda needs to put a stop to this immediately. This is sexual harassment and can not be tolerated.  A quick report to a manager should take care of this type of behavior. If not, it’s time to go up the chain of command and/or get out of that environment.

We are all humans, and there will always be someone who bugs us … kind of like an itchy rash or insect bite. The trick is to deal with the little problems immediately before they become big ones.

Dealing with an annoying remote co-worker? Check out this helpful article.

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