“URGENT!”, “PLEASE RESPOND ASAP!” and “SOS!” are all possible subject lines you may have received in an email from a co-worker. Every email becomes an urgent matter that needs attention right away!

Overusing these attention-grabbing terminologies diminish their meaning for when they are urgent and need a response in a timely manner- not to mention, it is annoying!

Below are five tips to handle “needy” coworkers:

1. Be nice

Approach your co-worker politely, there is no need to be aggressive or respond back rudely. Self- reflect and if you feel like your emotional state is high, discuss the situation later.

Talk to them in a private setting to avoid having them get embarrassed in front of the team. Keep this information to yourself too, you don’t want to gossip and then your co-worker finds out you are annoyed from someone else.

2. “It’s not you, it’s me”

Express how their urgency on every situation is escalating your stress and anxiety levels or shifting your focus on your own tasks to theirs.

Rather than telling them that they are doing something wrong (even if they are!), just touch mainly on how it is impacting you and your ability to complete work.

Humans respond negatively to feedback strictly on themselves, so discussing it as an “us” situation as opposed to a “you” will help with their action changes.

3. Set boundaries

Draw the line between how much urgency they can place on you. Perhaps one time you were able to help them efficiently and now they keep coming back for more.

Make sure to establish what you can help with and what does not fall under your job description. While you can take on extra work, be sure it is not getting in the way of your required tasks.

4. Say no

Depending on how you deal with problems this one may be the hardest of the five tips. If you like to deal with problems head on, considering strictly saying no with an explanation.

Follow the methods below to help get out of the habit of always saying yes:

  1. Say it
  2. Be firm
  3. Assertiveness is key
  4. Never lie
  5. Don’t feel guilty
  6. Compromise
     

5. Involve your supervisor

If the problems continue, considering asking your supervisor to step in to help with your co-worker who thinks every situation is urgent.

Perhaps a standard service level can be shared.  All types of certain requests will be responded to within 48 hours, for example. Team meetings where processes and expectations can be reviewed from all sides. 

 

While a co-worker who consistently has urgent demands can be annoying, the five tips above can help you manage or mitigate the situation.

Working with them on what can be considered “urgent” will help lower the number of their problems that end up becoming your problem!