When it comes to workplace stress, nothing gets our heart rate shooting up like a particularly awkward colleague.
According to a recent study, 40% of office staff are working under "dangerously high" stress levels, and many of us blame our colleagues for this anxiety.
Research suggests there are plenty of behavioural traits that drive us crazy, from noisy eating, to lateness, failing to listen and people who talk over conversations.
In a blog for The Huffington Post, Sophia Parsons pins down the kinds of people that can make our life difficult.
Few of us won't have come across the 'office busy body' for example.
Do these characters traits sound familiar?!
"Constantly walking around with what appears to be purpose and destination - however what are they actually doing that requires them to be out of their seats every 25 minutes?
"Constantly coming up to you expressing how busy they are, how much they have to do and how they have NO idea how they are going to find the time to get it all done yet they still seem to find the time to manage coming over to you and waste your time."
But while it's easy to mock the office (and the people who work in them), some experts believe we need to reclaim our work space.
According to HuffPost blogger Michael Bernd Bayer, the office is set to have a revival... and we don't mean series three from Gervais and Merchant!
"I believe there's a misconception that office working is no longer as productive or cost effective as mobile or remote working," he says.
"As communications become increasingly intelligent, office environments are on the cusp of providing a richer, more fruitful technology experience than we can get remotely. In fact, I think we are set to become even more productive and collaborative in the office."
So if you're looking for ways to improve your office life, and reduce those stress levels, perhaps you need to think about how to improve those working relationships?
Here are 10 ways to deal with awkward colleagues in the workplace
If you're finding it hard to communicate with a work colleague, then first thing to focus on is your own behaviour. If you are finding it hard to communicate with a co-worker, put yourself in their shoes, before resorting to moaning about them. You may find that the situation exposes a blind spot in your own ability to communicate. Perhaps this individual intimidates you. Or puts you on the back foot. Remember: no one can make you feel a certain way. How you to choose to react to another person is your decision. So focus on tackling the underlying reasons you feel uncomfortable and be open to changing your behaviour.
The office can be a breeding ground for negativity. However, there's no need to lower yourself to your colleagues' level. If a member of your team comes to work with a terrible attitude, then kill that dark mood with kindness. Positivity is also infectious, so you may find that your actions affect the whole team. Be the bigger person, and watch as that mood lifts.
There are two things office workers need in order to stay positive. Decent salary expectations and positive feedback. Usually, we're not in a position to control the first aspect. But the second is a very simple lever to push. Whether you're a junior member of the team, or a manager, it's important that you acknowledge the contributions of others on your team. Paying attention to the team around on a day to day basis will do far more for your office relationships than buying a cake to share.
Although it can feel counter-intuitive, the best way to get through to a defensive colleague is to open your heart. If your emails go unanswered, or are filled with unsupportive, passive-aggressive comments, then you'll need to find a new way to engage your 'less than emotionally mature' co-worker. Generally, if an office worker is making your life hard, then it will be the same for others. So start by taking heart that you're not alone. Secondly, refuse to engage with ANY of their comments, however inflammatory, contradictory or apparently insulting. Instead address the situation, person to person. Describe how their behaviour has made you feel, being careful not to make negative accusations about their behaviour. Normally, defensive people are hugely insecure. So once you can find and engage their sensitive heart, you'll have the beginnings of beautiful office friendship.
Learning to deal with difficult co-workers can often be a journey in learning to deal with yourself. If you have an overwhelming desire to be liked, then you may find the 9-5 will be filled with obstacles. The office is not a place to befriend one and all, but a professional environment, where grudges and miscommunications are allowed to come and go. Spending your day worrying about how X treated you today will probably not help that relationship, or improve your output. Make sure that your interest in office politics stems from a desire to do a good job, rather than satisfy a psychological impulse to be loved.
Office bullying can take many forms. Sometimes, it's as simple as mockery. Frequent personal attacks that take the form of jokes are a common way for the office bully to operate. Other times, the situation will take a less visible form, as the victim is singled out for criticism in every aspect of their work, often in front of peers. The worst way to deal with this problem is to ignore it. Bullies prefer their victims to feel helpless. Start recording each incident. This will instantly make you feel better, as you look at the situation objectively. Make time to talk to the person (ask another person to come along, if you think that will make the conversation easier) and present your feelings. It's possible that aren't aware of the impact of their behaviour. If that doesn't work, you'll need to talk to your manager or HR department. The key to tackling a bully is to reduce their power in your life. Focus on finding ways to take control of the situation.
With such a rich social media tapestry at our finger tips, it can be difficult for colleagues to concentrate in the office. If you feel that one of your co-workers is not pulling their weight, and constantly distracted by social activities, there are simple ways to tackle this problem. Firstly, you need to asses whether they are getting their work done or not. Everyone works differently. And checking Facebook every half an hour might not mean they're any less efficient. If they're not doing enough work, find out why they're not feeling motivated, and find a way to engage them with their project. Try to avoid instigating rules about how they use social media, as this will only lead to resentment.
It can be hard to enjoy your work, if you sit next to an office stress-head. Research has found that a colleague's stress levels act like a depressant in the brain, prompting us think about our own worries and concerns. To avoid subconsciously soaking up emotions, behavioural traits and facial expressions emitted from miserable co-workers, you need to be well disciplined. Don't humour your colleague when they're moaning about their work and cultivate relationships with more positive workers as a counter-balance.
There's nothing worse than when a relationship begins to feel just a little too intimate. When comments start to focus on how you look, rather than what you do for a living, then it can be stressful for both men and women. If you feel that your personal space is being invaded, then start to record when and where the situations happen. Then you can start to understand whether it's a problem that needs addressing. Listen to your feelings, take careful notes and notify your superior when feel that the level of intimacy is no longer acceptable, appropriate or professional.
In a time of economic slowdown, there are few cushy office jobs out there any more. Bosses want more for less... simple as that. But how can you fight back against an unmanageable workload? The first thing to do is establish a clear set of priorities with your manager. Agree a set of goals and if more work comes in, be quick to ascertain which other work should be moved to make room for it. This will demonstrate your commitment to getting everything done, without you have to say that unacceptable word: "No"