How to Cope With a Nosy Co-Worker

Working in an office is something that many of us experience on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, working alongside a nosy co-worker is something we have all experienced as well. These co-workers are unbearably intrusive, inquisitive and quite frankly, annoying. They push your personal boundaries to the very limits, emotionally and psychologically. Sometimes the behaviour of nosy colleagues is so severe that it can have devastating effects on your career.

Being able to counteract the behaviour of a nosy co-worker if it is having a negative impact on your work is very important, and you have the right to do your job without being distracted by someone else’s actions. Follow these helpful tips and you’ll be on your way to minimising a nosy co-worker’s impact on your work life.

1. Start Looking at Their Behaviour

Observe the problematic colleague’s behaviour closely, that may sound strange considering you don’t want to mimic their behaviour, however, in order to identify what they feel they find so intriguing about you is the first step towards being able to cope with their actions. Look at how they act around you and ask yourself: Are they constantly trying to peer at your computer screen to see what you are up to? Are they asking numerous questions that aren’t work related and seem more interested in making attempts to talk about your personal life instead? When you are able to gain any insight into what your co-worker is so interested in, you can begin to dodge any unwanted attention and get on with your working day.

 2. Change Your Behaviour

How you respond to a nosy co-worker's attempts of being intrusive can make all the difference. Try not to get defensive or aggressive with the individual, remember you are in a work environment and whilst you’re there you should always conduct yourself in a professional manner. If you usually find yourself endlessly engaged in conversations where the co-worker wants to find out too much information about you, just simply excuse yourself politely and walk away. Do not interact with the co-worker longer than you have to, this can be tricky given you work in the same office or perhaps even work together, but any opportunity you have to just simply disengage from a conversation with them will limit their verbal contact with you.

3. Set Boundaries

Having boundaries in any area of your life is very healthy. Boundaries can be tricky to apply in the workplace because to a certain extent you are obliged to interact with your colleagues. Don’t be afraid to draw the nosy co-worker's attention to your feelings about their behaviour, you can be subtle if you wish but make it clear that you do not appreciate being interrogated whilst you are at work. This is probably one of the hardest things do to but if you feel your colleague does not understand basic social etiquette and continues to intrude on your working life - you have to be assertive enough to let them know you are not comfortable with their mannerisms.

4. Make a Complaint

Many people are reluctant to report an interfering, nosy co-worker. This reluctance in extreme cases can cause psychological distress which stems from feeling unable to deal with the co-worker effectively. Talk to your boss and find out if there are any steps you can take like moving to a new internal department or having the colleague disciplined in some way if you feel you are being harassed by them.

5. Quit

Sometimes an overly nosy co-worker is just too much to bear and it is just easier to seek alternative employment somewhere else. Only take this step if you feel that you cannot personally do your job to the best of your ability alongside a nosy co-worker. This should be the last resort and you should only consider it if you feel your work is being compromised. If you do decide that this is the option you want to take, by all means hand in your notice and never look back.

It can be very difficult to not let a co-worker’s actions affect your ability to do your job, but chances are you may run into another similar individual at your new job, so do your best to cope with a nosy co-worker as best you can.