4 difficult work personalities — and how to deal with them
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
It goes without saying that if you don't like someone you have to work with, it's going to make your job harder — and possibly even slow productivity.
With that in mind, here's a rundown of a few difficult personality types I've seen in the workplace over the years, along with a few tips on how best to deal with them.
The Email Bully
There's a good chance this person may be one of your outside contacts — not a co-worker. I'm going to give email bullies the benefit of the doubt and say they're probably not as bad in real life, but the problem comes when email is the primary form of contact.
At best, their writing lacks much voice, so you can't tell how they meant to come across. At worst, they're trying to be rude, and it shows.
The tip: Why not give them a call every once in a while to break up the monotony of email communication? Or better yet, meet in person if possible. I almost always have better working relationships with folks I've met (or at least talked to) because we sort of "know" each other.
If nothing else, send them the same type of kind, respectful email you'd expect from someone else. Even a little smiley face or "thanks" at the end of a note goes a long way. Be kind even when they're not. It will pay off in time.
They're always right, and they're always turning the conversation back to themselves. They talk more than they listen, and even when they look like they're listening, they're really thinking about the next thing they're going to say.
Narcissists may come across as likable and have good ideas, but they have a hard time seeing things from other perspectives.
The tip: It's better not to just ignore them, even though that's your instinct. Be upfront with them and share your ideas. Encourage them to see the situation from your point of view — and tell them why they should.
Of course, there comes a point at which you may have to agree to disagree. Try not to take anything this type of person says too personally — after all, it's about them anyway.
They're always looking over your shoulder, and you can't seem to anticipate what they want, no matter how hard you try. It's impossible to just relax and do your job as well as you could without them there. Sound familiar?
The tip: First, prove they don't need to micromanage. Are you doing your job well — always meeting deadlines, being productive and making clients happy? If you are, it's probably their management style that's the problem, not you. Try talking to your boss directly. Ask how you're doing and what you could do better, letting your supervisor know you don't need constant supervision to get the job done.
If you've tried everything, may need to speak directly to the head of the department, as this might be a more serious issue that you can't fix. There are some managers who simply shouldn't be in those positions, and they might need to be dealt with accordingly, especially if the majority of their employees are unhappy.
The Negative Nelly
They don't like the boss or the company, they're always being treated unfairly — and they make sure to let everyone know. In turn, they make others around them more negative, too. They can bring you down because they cause you to dwell on all that's wrong in your office.
The tip: Offer a friendly ear for a few minutes, but don't fuel their fire. (Example: "Yes, I know the restructuring of our department will be a pain, but I think things will go a lot more smoothly once it's over, don’t you?")
Misery loves company, so don't give them too much. You may even agree with their complaints, but sometimes issues aren't worth discussing, unless you're trying to find a real solution. If anything, it makes you like your job less, and who wants that?
Of course, it's important to remember that a perfect workplace doesn't exist, so naturally, the people won't be perfect either. If nothing else, all the different personalities in your workplace might just make it the diverse place it was meant to be in the first place, even if they do offer up a few challenges.
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