While you might have been given the advice at school, ‘Just ignore them and they will go away’ (which doesn’t work), that kind of advice just doesn’t cut it in today’s workplace.

Who is ‘them’ in your workplace.

We have all got ‘them’. Prickly Pears. People who, for different reasons, rub us up the wrong way. Sometimes you know why, sometimes you just can’t out your finger on the reason why. You just don’t like them, but you have to work with them. You have to spend all day with them. You might even sit next to them. Sometimes you HAVE to talk with them. You can’t ignore them. And they won’t go away.

Reasons why colleagues ‘drive others crazy’

I asked over one hundred and fifty people their Top Five Reasons regarding what their colleagues do that annoys them:

·        47% Complaining

·        42% Talking too much

·        40% Turning up late / Leaving early

·        36% Asking you questions about their work that they should know

·        35% Sucking up to their boss

The research provided me with some good laughs:

·        ‘Clipping their fingernails at their desk’.

·        ‘Making bodily noises’.

·        ‘Breathing’.

Out of one hundred and thirty five additional comments regarding what strategies they have used, eleven people said ‘Try to ignore them’.

Why ignoring them won’t work

Even if you try to ignore them, it won’t work. You not responding is still a response. Your brain has received information and will process it.  You have to process it first, to then decide if you want to ignore it, and by then it is too late. So what can you do?

You can give the information a different meaning.


You have the power to choose what you make your colleagues’ behaviour mean. You can decide they continuously click their pen to:

a) Deliberately annoy you, or,

b) They don’t have the conscious awareness to even realize are clicking their pen, or,

c) They process kinesthetically (they need to move), so clicking their pen means they are really concentrating.

You can’t ignore the clicking pen – the noise has already gone into your ears, you have seen it with your eyes- but you can choose what you make it mean to you.

Helen’s Story:

Helen had a problem with Craig’s ‘disgusting mouth noises’. According to Helen, Craig would sit at his desk, or in the kitchen, and chew his food with his mouth open (!). Helen tried to avoid Craig every time he was eating, but sometimes she just couldn’t get away from him. She tried to tune the chewing noise out – but that didn’t work. ‘I had to accept that he couldn’t help it and saw it as my problem, not his’.

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