How do I deal with my annoying co-workers?

Most of my colleagues annoy me to distraction. Most of the time I don’t have to interact with them much, but it’s a big problem at conferences; I get so drained. Any advice?

The owner of this Fortune is annoyed. You best leave them alone.

01-02-07-13-43 / 16

Hello Diner. We understand this problem completely. Every so often, it would be a late weekday night, and a tired business person would come into the restaurant already irritated from a long day at work. They would be snappy and rude to our waiters and waitresses–being just generally unpleasant to be around. Despite this attitude, our Baker’s Creed is to help anyone we’re served to. While it’s a rule for Cookies never to judge our Diners, we look forward to bonding with someone who is pleasant and kind, stuck in a predicament not of their choosing.

But once we start working, we see that this outwardly horrible person still has fears, desires, hope, and interests, like all of our Diners do. They also worry about being accepted and acknowledged. Their problems, no matter how trivial they are to another person, still keep them up at night.

Therefore, Diner, I urge you to learn about those people you dislike to see if you can connect with them on a more personal level. I can’t say if the search will bring up anything that will resolve the personality conflicts you have with your colleagues, but if you go to these conferences to learn or teach, the least you can try is to learn about these people and possibly show them how to relate to you better.

Doing this will undoubtedly take a lot of energy, but remember that you don’t have to do this the whole time. If you don’t have the energy to deal with people, you simply won’t have the energy to be receptive and learn about them. And that’s fine. This Fortune is all about making these conferences a little more tolerable than they are now. It would definitely help to pay attention to how quickly your mental battery drains and to give yourself breaks if you can take them.

To make sure you have as much energy as possible at these conferences, bring along and do activities that you enjoy and are easy for you, such as knitting, playing video games, or fortune telling. This will help you in two ways: it’s meditative, so it calms you down and re-energizes you; and it’s self affirming, so you feel good about yourself having done them. The night before get something satisfying to eat and enough sleep. If possible do a little bit of exercise. All this will counteract the draining effect from simply being at the conference and in the midst of all that input (your annoying colleagues, aside).

Hopefully this will result in new friendships with your co-workers. After all, negotiating a hard task is easier in numbers than alone. Good luck, Diner.


If it’s a matter of your colleagues pushing your boundaries when your battery is low, a great way to explain this drained feeling is with Christine Miserandino’s spoon analogy.