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How to Deal With a Neurotic Coworker

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Although neurotic coworkers might have good intentions, they often appear to create stress where none exists. Workplace neurosis stems from an underlying fear of disappointing colleagues and failing to meet expectations, according to a 2013 study published in the "Academy of Management Journal." While it can be challenging, learning to deal with a neurotic coworker might help make your workday more manageable.

Don't Take It Personally

Although your first instinct might be to minimize contact with your neurotic coworker, this is not always practical or possible. Prepare yourself in advance for the interaction and realize that it will most likely require an extra effort to stay calm and professional, advises Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large of "Psychology Today." Take deep breaths, count to 10 and maintain your composure. Sometimes, stress is contagious. Don't allow yourself to absorb your coworker's stress. Tell yourself, "It's not my problem." Develop a thick skin and try not to take her behaviors personally.

Stay Busy

You're at work to work -- not to play therapist to your neurotic coworker. While it might be difficult to ignore your coworker, stay focused on the job at hand. When you see your coworker coming your way, grab the phone or look intently at your computer screen. If you appear busy, he might be less likely to bug you. If your coworker persists in demanding your attention, ask him to send you an email or leave a note with his information request, advises certified life and career coach Dorothy Tannahill-Moran in an article for Career Rocketeer.

Conserve Your Energy

Neurotic people are often pessimistic and negative in the workplace because they are so focused on the possibility of something going awry. Trying to convince your coworker that things aren't as bad as she thinks, or pointing out alternative viewpoints, are exercises in futility. You can't change who she is because neurotic coworkers are usually immune to the influence of others. Conserve your energy and accept that she's not going to change. Your energy is better spent on completing your daily tasks and cultivating relationships with more positive coworkers.

Talk to Your Boss

If your coworker's behaviors are having a serious impact on your ability to perform your job duties, it's time to consult your boss. Stay calm and professional. Don't storm into your boss's office in the heat of the moment. Avoid complaining about your coworker and instead focus on the effects of his behaviors on your work. Mention specific examples of the ways your work has been affected. Ask for a solution to the problem, such as asking him to talk to your coworker, advises career coach Marie G. McIntyre in an article for her website, Your Office Coach.


Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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