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Photo Credit: Melissa Gouws

The old saying goes “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family” well the same can be said at work with regards to your colleagues.

Now I’m happy to say that the majority of the time I have always been blessed with talented, passionate and inspiring people to work with however much like the black sheep of the family, at some point in your career you will end up working with someone toxic, draining or negative who despite all reasoning you just can’t get along with. This can be disastrous because it drains you mentally and can actually hinder your job performance.  But unlike your family who you can avoid mostly, the same can’t be said regarding your co-workers.

There are many variations of a bad co-worker; here we will look at a couple of them as well as potential possibilities on how to deal with them.

  • The Micro-manager

The worst bosses going. Their constant control freakery means they’ll endlessly interfere with every task they set, question you endlessly on your progress and generally just annoy you every time they open their mouth. For me I find this demotivating as it actually wastes time and distracts me from the work that actually needs to be done.

The solution:

Pre-empt what they will want updates on. Over compensate with information. Try sending an incredibly detailed email early on in the day outlining your plan of action and exactly what your goals are and how you plan on achieving them. This way you are showing them that you take their authority seriously and putting their insecurities about being in a management role to rest.

  • Negative Nancy and Debbie Downers

You know who I mean, that co-worker who is negative about EVERYTHING. She is the one who hates her job, thinks her clients suck, who is never in the wrong but very “unlucky”. These types of people can often be the most draining because like a succubus it’s almost like they suck the life right out of you. Their bad attitudes, disastrous thinking, and fatalistic outlooks can penetrate the rest of the team and spread like a wild fire. And although these negative people should get the least of our time and energy, we often give them the most attention.

The solution:

Try avoid communicating with them about anything negative. Keep away from any conversations that are not directly related to work and when they start getting negative try put a positive spin on everything. Also remember that you are in control of your own happiness so don’t let them bring you down.

  • The Gossip Girl (or boy)

While these nasty guys and girls can be super entertaining with their anecdotes watch what they are saying. If it’s harmless banter then you shouldn’t worry too much but if they are bitching about Britney to you, there’s a high chance they are bitching about you to Britney. Inter office bitchiness isn’t fun for anyone involved. It can damage work relationships and can make for an uncomfortable working environment.

The Solution:

Don’t tell them anything personal that you wouldn’t want repeated. Also stay away from getting sucked in to the gossip they are spreading. Keep it professional.

  • The Brown noser

This one can be particularly annoying. Especially when it appears that they have absolutely no personal dignity. Their main priority seems to be sucking up to the people of power and this often comes at the expense of the work that actually needs to be done and the rest of the team is left picking up the pieces. This is often made even worse when it appears everyone but the person in power is able to see this for what it is which can be infuriating.

The solution:

This one is tricky. But try and remember most managers are smarter than we give them credit for. Liking someone and respecting someone are two very different things and in my experience while the brown noser is often liked, this doesn’t often help his career in anyway. Just put your head down and get your own work done and be noticed on your work ethic and results.

  • The Narcissist

Also a particularly awful co-worker to deal with. Especially when they appear to be the social butterfly but you often learn the hard way that they come with an incredibly poisonous sting. Narcissists are offensive, disruptive and can be a hazard not only to the company but also potentially your career, if this persons sees you as anything other than a reflection of their own greatness.

The Solution:

The first step to dealing with this is realising that the person is a narcissist. Once you realise that it really is them and not you it’s a lot easier to depersonalise the issues that they bring to the table.

I would love to hear your experiences and tips to dealing with awful co(w) workers so please feel free to comment.

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