Some types of difficult co-workers

Now that we have some idea about managing difficult people at work, lets proceed to identify some types… so to say, lets assign them a category and make our approach more targeted.

I have come across a variety of difficult people in my career, and others I have read about :). At times, being fairly honest, I may have been a difficult co-worker myself. My “real” friends used some of the measures discussed below in changing my outlook and making me in to a more professional person. The reason my I have highlighted ‘real’ is: Only the people who cared about me combined with a positive outlook towards organizational / departmental harmony wished to do something to handle the issues instead of simply making an issue out of every little thing I did and having me replaced.

Lets begin:

The Crabby Coworker

You know the type – they come in to work in the morning( or evening /night depending on your line of business) , don’t say hi, won’t even make eye contact with you or crack a smile. 
While we do not all have to be best friends at work, it is pretty awkward when you can’t interact with these people the way you would with a normal person who will at least say hello. What to do:
  • Try to find some common ground:There’s got to be something – anything – that you have in common with this person and if you’re able to find it, you just might be able to crack them. Maybe you and him/her watch ‘Humsafar’ 😉  – you could ask them what they thought of last night’s episode! Maybe you both have kids starting school this year – ask how that’s working out. The point is to find something to get that person talking so he/she feels like you’re both on the same side. They still might not pass any salutation to you, but you might get a glimmer or a smile every once in a while that can lighten the tension.
  • Ask if something’s wrong: When people are grumpy to the extreme, there is usually something wrong on a personal level. If you’re not afraid to have your head bitten off, ask if something is indeed wrong and if there’s anything you can do to help (only if you mean it…thou, I have had instances where the other person knew that I was genuinely concerned, but they still couldn’t resist punching my teeth out ( just an idiom)). This might be a brave approach depending on who you’re dealing with but can once again help open the lines of communication and might lead to a smile down the road. Maybe the person just needs to feel that they are not alone.
  • Don’t take it personally: Chances are that if you find this coworker cranky and difficult to work around…..realize that some people are just like that no matter what you do and try not to let it bring you down.

Agent Coworker (009) (Ahem ahem … informer extraordinaire)

One fine day, you are called into your manager’s office because you were tattled on by your very own 009 … and that too for something that doesn’t really matter anyway. 009’s are really like spies because they are very good at slyly discovering every little tiny mistake you have ever made at work and then going and telling on you, thus making them look good and you look bad. ( BTW, the 009 is an increment to 007, with a licence to chugli-fy)
Is there anything you can do? Yes:
  • Make sure they like you: It might make you sick to your stomach to try to be work friends with this person but if you can do it, it is in your best interest. 🙁 And honestly I don’t like writing this, just as much as you don’t like reading it. This is especially true if you have to work closely around the person and know that they will always be “watching you.” There’s a chance that if this person feels a friendly vibe between the two of you, they might move onto another target who hasn’t made that effort to be friends. Since nobody likes a tattle, they don’t usually have many friends. Use this to your advantage.
  • Be on your best behavior: Sure, if you know the tattletale is sniffing around, just carry out your work according to the books and to the highest code. If you do everything absolutely perfectly, there won’t be anything to tell on. Plus, try not to go overboard trying to share your impression of how the boss forgets what he was talking about, or the way the director smokes etc etc. Its better that you do your comedy in the privacy of your own personal friends. 
  • Avoid, avoid, avoid: If you really don’t have to associate with this person, don’t. It’s as simple as that.

The Know-it-All Coworker

Nobody knows everything but don’t tell your know-it-all coworker that! 
Mr. Know It All
What’s tricky about these people is that they’re hard to reason with because they carry on as if the only ideas that are “right” or “the best way” are their own. It’s especially difficult when this type of coworker is your supervisor who gets to call some of the shots that affect the quality of your job and eventually your day. What if you come up with a better way of doing something that could benefit your whole department? 
Here’s what to do:
  • Make them think that your idea is really their idea No, you’re not gonna get credit if you take this approach but if you can get past that and are just looking for end results, this method works pretty well. You might say something like “Remember your abc idea? (which is actually YOUR idea) I think that will work well for us because of xyz.” You’ll probably only want to try this for ideas that are only slightly different from theirs and not a paradigm shift otherwise your know-it-all coworker could catch on (but you might be surprised – people who think they know everything and are unwilling to budge are often not that sharp).
  • Show your evidence. Prove it. : Even the most knowing of all know-it-all coworkers may find it hard to hold onto their ideas if you can provide all kinds of evidence to show that another idea or another way may be better. Tread lightly on this one and make sure that your battle is worth it.

The Lazy Coworker

Lazy worker
There is nothing more frustrating than doing all the work while your lazy coworker(s) sits around and does nothing. Ideally, someone in charge will see the light and your lazy coworker friends will eventually get fired but we all know that it’s nearly impossible to fire someone these days so don’t count on it. Apparently some people think that HR should not fire, but should rather counsel and counsel again…and once again…etc…… So while the counselling is going on…you may want to try these instead:
  • Suck it up: Yes, you work and your lazy coworkers don’t but one approach is just to acknowledge that fact and move on. In other words, as they say, “do your work and go home.”
  • Don’t pick up the slack for the lazy one: You might find yourself taking on extra duties that were initially meant for your lazy coworker without even realizing it. Stop doing that! Once the workload starts to pile up and you resist the urge to dive in and finish it off, even your coworker may take notice of the backlog and pitch in to help. And if they don’t, say
  • “Help me! I’m overwhelmed! There is work to be done here!”: Sadly, you might have to spell it out to your lazy coworker just like that. Lazy coworkers are not all bad people but sometimes they are oblivious to the fact that there is work to be done so you really just might have to tell them.
To forgive is to release resentment, hatred, bitterness and desires for revenge…We choose not to hate such people, even though we hate what he or she did.

Always remember that when you forgive:
  • You don’t literally forget about the existence of the offense, and you don’t have to ignore the fact that it did cause you pain and hurt. 
  • It doesn’t mean you approve of the offense or allow it to happen again. 
  • You don’t have to become friends with that person or trust them to show that you really forgave them. 
  • Trust is something that takes a long time to earn, not something given as a token of forgiveness. 
Learn to forgive and move on… We live on a small planet and work in even smaller industries let alone offices…. We all have to share it…. Move on and work towards cooperation or at least co-existence.


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