5/10/2006

Working with Know-It-Alls

I work with a guy who is a major know-it-all and an all-around pain in the butt. What do I do when he corrects the pronunciation of everything everyone says?

Also, since he is a new employee, he gets very hostile when other workers inform him that he did something incorrectly. What are we to do? – Linda in Pittsburgh

Well, I understand your dilemma completely. We’ve all had a very annoying coworker, you know - the kind of person you’d like to sneak up behind & smack in the back of the head, smooshing their face into the desk . . .

Sorry, I got carried away reminiscing. But really, violence is not the answer. In a situation like this, the best thing to do is to look the person straight in the eye and ask where he got his English Language degree. If he actually has one, then ask him why he’s employed at a finance company, underscoring the fact that he sure screws up a lot & should maybe stick with what he knows.

You could also broach the subject by saying something smart, such as “Thanks, Teacher.” Then, when he screws up in his work, keep the school theme going by telling him he’s just received 2 demerits and any more will lead to detention.

Of course, if you wish to avoid confrontation while annoying your coworker, I recommend singing the old tomato/to-mah-to song. This works especially well if you are completely unable to carry a tune. After hearing it a few times, that should shut the guy up permanently.

Basically, when a coworker does stupid things on a regular basis, you should make a note of it: date, time & offense. Have your colleagues do the same. Just telling your superior that “Joe keeps correcting my grammar” may seem whiny. But if everyone in the department approaches the supervisor with a list of Joe’s “quirks” and describes the lost productivity caused by his English lessons & temper tantrums, you may well see action without repercussion. Translation: the boss sees dollar signs going down the drain every time Joe opens his mouth . . .

Incidentally, it sounds like this guy is a real weenie that makes work suck even more than work normally sucks. I highly recommend watching past episodes of the fantastic show The Office for great prank ideas. A few examples: Remove items from his desk & put them into the vending machine so that he’s forced to buy back his supplies. Every day, unscrew the mouthpiece on his phone & insert a couple of nickels. The handset will gradually become heavier. Once it has reached capacity, secretly remove all nickels & then watch him smack himself in the head the next time he answers the phone. Good luck!


Let's hear your best stories about annoying coworkers. I want to know what they did & how you put them in their place or learned to live with it.

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