Interpersonal relationships at the workplace have always been complex due to difficult personality types. People behave in different ways and have different approaches, which are not always welcome by everyone; hence conflict arises.
“My boss always rejects every idea I suggest for no good reason.” “Why does she keeps committing when she cannot finish any task on time?” “He always knows everything; there is no scope for an alternate way.” “How does he find time for gossiping when I’m dying here with the workload. Doesn’t he have work to do?” We all know them. We work with them – they are our challenging co-workers and are part of every organization. We all need to find our ways around them regardless of our position.
So, here are nine common difficult personality types and advice for getting along.
9 difficult personality types of co-workers
#1. The Credit Thief
They present the story only with them being the hero. They would never mention anything about other people. They steal ideas and offer them as theirs. Nothing is more disrespectful than stealing credit for someone else’s work.
If you’re this person: If you do this, STOP doing it. It’s wrong in every sense. You may gain quick recognition with this behavior, but in the long run, you will be a loser only. Instead, upskill yourself. Learn and improve your skills to gain confidence.
If you work with this person:
- Keep a record of your progress.
- Present that to your manager/supervisor in every one-on-one discussion or group meeting.
- If anyone steals your credit, speak up at the same time about your role.
#2. The Gossiper
The gossiper knows everything about everyone and wants to share it. Though gossiping is a way to connect, when there are no boundaries, it can be hurtful. Gossip adds to office politics and drama, which ruins the culture. It can also damage one’s professional reputation.
If you’re this person: Do gossip but draw boundaries. Don’t engage in negative gossiping. For example, do not discuss someone else’s salary details or make fun of some personal issues or spread false rumors. Positive gossiping is healthy. For instance, gossip about how you can improve working culture, or if someone is stuck in doing a task, find out if there was any similar situation before. Talk about recent holidays, kids’ school, weekend plans, etc.
If you work with this person: The best way is to avoid engaging in negative gossip. Make it a point that you are not interested in talking about your co-workers this way. Change the topic to something about tasks you are working on or current news.
#3. The Complainer
There’s always at least one person who can never be happy. They keep on whining about some or the other thing. It’s too cold inside. This desk is uncomfortable, etc. They are such people who will complain about cheering loudly even when they are appreciated! While their annoyances don’t cause any direct harm to others directly, it does bog down your morale.
If you’re this person: STOP being negative nancy. This attitude is very discouraging.
If you work with this person: Test your patience and listening skills. When they give up, change the topic or go sarcastic! Because they aren’t looking for any advice. Be mindful of your tone. Don’t sound rude.
#4. The Dishonest
One should be very cautious when working with dishonest people. They posture as BFFs but will be the first ones to leave you in a lurch. They tend to be nice to gather pointers, and when things go downside, they reveal it all, making you look bad and creating big troubles. You can call them backstabbers or tatter-tale, or sneaky.
If you’re this person: Try to find out why you lie or behave in this manner. Instead, try to maintain trust and build relationships. Learn to be accountable for your actions. Your co-workers can help cover your mistakes when you share a good rapport.
If you work with this person: Keep doing your work and maintain a note of all the events with dates. Be direct and talk to the person about the behavior or take it with your manager with witnesses.
#5. The Excuser
They always find one or the other reason to excuse themselves from work. Didn’t join the meeting on time because the browser was slow. The report has typos; it’s because the spellchecker didn’t work. Why is the task not done yet? I am waiting on another person to confirm it. They play victims to save themselves and keep on passing the blame from one thing to another.
If you’re this person: Own up your acts. Mistakes don’t matter much if you can correct them. It’s ok if you don’t own your mistakes in front of others but be honest with yourself. Instead of excusing yourself, try and understand what & how things went south and how you can avoid it in the future.
If you work with this person: Keep a note of the events and facts. When you realize excuses are coming in, start asking questions until they have no more reasons left. When you do this repeatedly correctly, the justifications will become less eventually.
#6. The Yes Man
They keep saying ‘yes’ to all the work you assign them irrespective of their current capacity. They might be able to finish them all on time (working late hours, another problem) or may not do things on time, but they won’t speak up. They don’t want to disappoint anyone; hence they cannot decide. These people don’t harm you directly but spoil the work culture. Late working hours, setting expectations of working beyond your capacity.
If you’re this person: Learn to say ‘No.’ Being always overloaded to please others will only give you stress because you cannot please everyone.
If you work with this person: Try not to tag along with this person as you too will always be overloaded, especially if this person is your senior. If you must work, assign them due dates before the actual date if they don’t finish on time. Ask about their current workload & observe working hours. You should question them if they are always working late before assigning new work.
#7. The Non-Responder
They are the most frustrating to work with because you can never have clarity on what’s happening on the other side. You ask them if they understood the task in the meeting, but there is no response. You share a follow-up email with the deadline approaching; you get the answer, ‘yes, I am working on it.’ You must assume it is a yes and then keep an eye out or do follow-ups with them to know the work progress.
If you’re this person:
- Learn to communicate.
- Respond to questions, and share details instead of a one-line response.
- Give clarity about your commitments.
If you work with this person: Good luck! You can only take this matter to your senior or get this person replaced if you can. Meanwhile, you have an added task of following up with this person!
#8. The Slider
They suck! They never do any task by themselves; instead, they assign the work to others like they are the boss. Their main job is to brag about the smallest piece of work they do in such a way that it appears to others how brilliant they are! They get the rewards & you keep wondering what they did. Trust me; they know how to act their part. They have skills!
If you’re this person: It’s like stealing someone else’s credit, so you need to STOP doing this. Learn to do your work on your own. Put your influencing/bossy skills to some good use.
If you work with this person: Agree on individual roles and responsibilities. When you notice the slider, tell him you have your work to finish, and so does everyone. If this becomes a habitual behavior, track who is contributing and who is not, and then call it out.
#9. The Micromanager
They micromanage. Like control freaks who cannot let go of anything and thus build pressure on whosoever works with them. They dictate everything, leaving little or no room for your creativity.
If you’re this person: Though it appears you’re highly engaged with your co-workers and adding a lot of value by helping everyone, it isn’t anything like this. You are only burning yourself with too much work. Learn to delegate. Trust others and give them the space to work their way.
If you work with this person: Show confidence that you know your work and will deliver the exact outcome. Provide all the details even before they ask.
Some people are easy to work with, while others are difficult. Working with difficult personality types gives rise to conflicts but try not to take them personally. Maintain your positive stature to resolve the conflicts. Be proactive, find your coping strategy, and bring it to your manager’s attention if things worsen.
What are your biggest co-worker pet peeves? How do you cope with difficult personality types at your workplace?