The 5 most common coworker dilemmas --  and how to solve them

Ask the Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]
Many of us spend as much time with our coworkers as with our friends and family.

All of this time together means that awkward situations will inevitably pop up.

After receiving hundreds of questions for my column, Ask The Insider, I’ve identified some of the most common conflicts people have with coworkers.

Here’s how to solve them with minimal awkwardness.

Bossy coworkers

Many people complain that their coworkers overstep and take on a managerial role, providing feedback on what they should do.

Tell your bossy coworker that you're busy working on something the boss assigned you, and then ignore the person if he or she butts in again. If you stop engaging, the person should get the message.

Nosy coworkers

One reader told me that after a gynecologist appointment, her male coworker pressed for details about where she had been.

Another reader felt uncomfortable leaving for job interviews because his nosy coworkers inquired to where he had gone.

In this case, it's fine to say 'it's personal,' and leave it at that. You don't owe anyone an explanation.

However, if you have an issue that will be unusually time-consuming, such as a health problem or divorce, it's important to let your manager know.

Loud coworkers

Loud voices, music seeping through earbuds, and crunchy foods are all common workplace distractions.

To a certain extent, you have to learn to deal with the sounds your coworkers make.

But if someone is being disruptive and meaningfully distracting from your work -- for instance you are trying to talk to a client on the phone and can't hear -- it's fine to politely ask the person to keep it down.

Coworkers who take credit for your work

In every office, there are people who will try to pass off your good ideas as their own. Sometimes, the boss buys into their version of the story, meaning you might not get the credit you deserve.

How do you combat this problem? Make sure you're being vocal about your ideas and keeping your manager posted on every step of the process.

Don't be shy about taking credit for your work. Staying quiet gives power to your coworkers, and you'll likely end up resenting it.

Coworkers who come to work sick

If you have coworkers who frequently come to work sick, ask your boss to reiterate the sick policy to the team. Once it's boss' orders, maybe the sick people will be more inclined to stay home.

If you notice your coworker is coughing or sneezing, you could send them a message and say, 'Are you feeling OK? You should go home if you're not well.'

If all else fails, experts recommend avoiding the office kitchen, washing your hands often, avoiding touching your face, and rinsing your coffee cup with hot, soapy water immediately before use. Taking these precautions would help you avoid some germs.

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