Years of collective experience has exposed us to all kinds of personalities in the workplace and while we have been lucky to meet some of the most amazing people who have gone on to be life long friends, it is rare to find a workplace filled with all sweetness and light. Unfortunately the office can bring out the worst in people and there are some personality types that are particularly toxic. Most people find it very difficult to change their style (apparently over 40 without active focus it is nearly impossible!), it’s unlikely they will change. Here are our tips for dealing with five of the worst types.
1. The Egomaniac
Unfortunately this type is all too common in corporate offices all over the world. Typically someone who has worked their way up through the ranks and is now in a position of perceived power where they think everything they say and do is brilliant and more importantly right. The shame with this type is that often they are very clever and capable people who are just missing the emotional intelligence that tips them from self-confident to egomaniac.
If the egomaniac in your office also happens to have a disregard for people’s feeling and thoughts this can make things extremely difficult, we have seen examples of bosses kicking people out of meetings because they didn’t like someone else having a stronger idea, throwing a colleague’s mobile phone across the room because the person wasn’t completely focusing on them and cutting someone off with a flick of their hand because they were bored with them and even saying ‘blah, blah, blah’ when someone was talking. If this sounds like your boss, short of reporting their behaviours to HR or trying to get moved to another manager or area of the business, you need to find some strategies to deal with them.
Outside of the office they are probably not someone you would give two thoughts to however if they are chain of command you have to find a way to work with them. Try framing your conversation in a way that is complimentary of their thoughts and ideas but allows you to get your point across, such as ‘that is a great idea but I wonder if we should also consider…’ or try approaching someone you trust who you think has a good relationship with the person and mention to them that their behaviour is having a detrimental affect on staff morale. By keeping it non-judgemental and focusing on the collective negative experience of the team rather than the individual experience you may be able to get feedback to them that helps them to understand their impact on productivity and morale.
Also try distancing yourself from them at every opportunity, by keeping them at arms length you can limit their influence on your experience at work. This can be hard, particularly if they are your boss so another strategy is to be ‘present but not-present’ when you are with them. Try techniques to zone out enough so that you don’t fully absorb what they are saying without them feeling like they are being completely ignored. You may come across as a little vague at times but that’s better than absorbing all of the self-importance of this personality type.
2. The Ambition Monster
We all know the type, the individual so obsessed with ambition that they will use everyone in their path to get to the top. This type can be particular dangerous in the workplace, as they are willing to go to extreme lengths to get ahead. Often with this particular type you will find that their single minded quest for success will be their downfall. Whether it’s stepping on the wrong persons toes, sleeping their way up or simply making mistakes through being promoted too soon these types will typically screw themselves over – just sit back on the sidelines and watch them explode.
On a day to day basis while you are waiting for them to trip themselves up, try just focusing on your own work output and try to limit the information you give them as this type will take it and find any way to use it to their advantage.
3. The Jobsworth or the ‘Computer Says No’
You know the type, those individuals who will take office processes to extremes and use rules and regulations to be obtrusive or difficult every step of the way. This type is particularly petty and annoying and does more harm than good to office productivity. The will hide behind process at every opportunity so the best way to deal with this type is to try and bypass them or find creative ways around them at every step. There is no point trying to highlight to them why a process or rule doesn’t need to be followed so don’t bother, just go to their direct manager and explain the benefits of doing things more efficiently or differently and hopefully that will get the change you need.
4. The Theory Drone
This one is the office bore, they will consume most of the air in the room regaling everyone with their ideas and theories about everything without actually doing any work. Worse still if this this person is your boss as you have to at least pretend you are remotely intetested in what they are saying. Some people just love the sound of their own voice and there is nothing worse than being stuck in a meeting which gets completely overrun by one individual. We have a few tactics to deal with this, try bringing your conversations with them back to the matter at hand, and always act super busy and rushed in their presence so you can’t get caught in a long conversation. If you are stuck in a meeting with this type, either learn to sleep with your eyes open or if all else fails fake an important phone call and get out of there as fast as you can!
5. The Bully
Possible the worst and most damaging of all the personality types. We once worked somewhere where people requested demotions and pay cuts to actively avoid having to report to a bullying manager. Our advice if you are working for a bully type, run! But first before you do so, make sure you document and report a factual account of the action and behaviours to your HR department- this type shouldn’t be able to continue to get away with their terrible behaviour. Depending on how supporting your HR team are there may be a way forward however if you aren’t getting anywhere through formal channels think about approaching a senior leader in your organisation that you trust and respect, any organisation with good leadership will want to stamp this type of behaviour out as much as you do and if they don’t it might not be the best workplace for you.
Let’s face it, for many of us work is somewhere we go to be productive, earn an income and fill our days but having to deal with difficult types makes it draining, unproductive and in the worst cases detrimental to our health and stress levels. If you are working somewhere that is intolerable and management doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it, seriously consider and plan your options to get out of there – after all life really is to short to spend 8 hours a day in a damaging environment.
Have you ever worked with these types? We would love to hear from you, leave us a comment below.
Want more Career, Business and Money? Click here for our article on How a Stint in the Corporate World Can Be Beneficial for Starting Your Own Business and here for our tips on How to Land Your Dream Job (and Tips for creating the perfect resume).
This had me laughing out loud! Thank you so much. As a psychologist who deals with psychometric tests, this was very refreshing.
So glad you enjoyed it! We have worked with some pretty interesting types over the years!