Our corporate lives would not be what they are if not for our colleagues. Ideally, we all want to work in a comfortable environment and get along with our co-workers, but unfortunately, human nature often gets in the way. Difficult people in the workplace can hamper productivity and team spirit, but being petty or spitefully difficult to enact your revenge is not the way to handle the situation. We detail four common types of hard-to-handle workplace personalities below, and provide tips on how to diffuse them without creating a bigger problem so that you end up with the respect you deserve:
1. The Jealous OneThere are no two ways of putting it: this colleague is just plain jealous of you for no discernible reason. Keep in mind that jealous colleagues usually harbour some sort of insecurity and covet whatever it is you have, be it confidence when speaking up in meetings or your new laptop bag. However, it’s not your job to change in order to make them feel less jealous. If their jealousy doesn’t ebb, then simply limit all conversations with this person to the bare minimum.
2. The Lazy OneThese colleagues take their own sweet time to get things done and the word “deadline” is not a part of their vocabulary. It’s likely that you and your colleagues regularly find yourselves going out of your way to pick up their slack so that the entire team doesn’t suffer. Doing their work for them only emboldens them, so refrain from offering to save them from their mounting pile of work. Gather the rest of your team and stage an intervention for the lazy colleague, highlighting to them how their ways inconvenience everyone else. If there is no significant change in their work ethic after the talk, consider getting your manager involved - but remember to be professional about it.
3. The Angry OneThey may be the most dedicated person in the entire office, but their fiery tongue and sharp words do them no favor. Colleagues with bad tempers are often unpredictable and emotionally draining to work with, plus heir derogatory conduct and lack of respect for other employees usually make them a menace. When dealing with them on a one-to-one basis, try to de-escalate and remain objective. If they have misbehaved with you or your colleagues, document all incriminating texts, calls, and emails so you can build a concrete case for HR to tackle.
4. The Gossipy OneThis colleague’s expertise lies in spinning complex webs of tall tales about their co-workers. While harmless chatter is common in all offices, a true gossip monger goes a step further and causes intentional harm by spreading lies. The best thing you can do to shut them down is to pay no heed to the rumours, as reacting to whatever a gossip monger says will only encourage them. However, if the colleague is saying things that could be criminally damaging to you or a coworker, it’s time to bring them to HR’s attention.