It’s inevitable—at almost any workplace you will run into “problem” co-workers.
1. The Negative Co-worker: This one always has something negative to say, no matter what. True, it can be helpful to have a critical thinker on the team who plays devil’s advocate, but far too often this person is quick to criticize without offering up solutions.
How to deal: When this person raises problems (and you know they will), ask them for more details. Why won’t the client sign? What’s going on there? Press them to really describe the problem and ask them to provide a solution. They may raise some valid points, so never ignore what they have to say or write them off.
2. The Overly-Competitive Co-worker: Do you remember the person in class who would repeatedly ask for your notes, but didn’t return the favour if you asked them for help? This is the grown-up version of that person. Someone who is overly competitive may try to sabotage other people and throw them under the bus. Healthy competition in the workplace can encourage people to work harder. But, it’s a problem if the person is overly competitive with other people at work and doesn’t offer to help.
How to deal: Competitive coworkers may be insecure leading them to feel threatened by your success. Try to show this person that you want to work with them, not against them. Collaborate, but make sure to leave a paper trail indicating that you worked on projects. You don’t want him/her to take the credit for your ideas.
3. The Gossip: When people spend time together at work, there is bound to be a grapevine with “the office gossip.” They want to know everything that’s happening and may divulge information you share with them in confidence to others.
How to deal: Don’t feed into this person’s questions. They may ask who you dislike at work in a roundabout way like, “So what do you really think of Susan’s presentation?” If this person tries to engage you in gossip about yourself, your manager, or other coworkers, politely leave the conversation. There is a good chance that this person will share what you said with other people and that can have major ramifications.
4. The Bully: He/she will pick on people, blame others, or tattle when it isn’t necessary to do so. They may be unable to handle confrontational conversations without acting mean and saying something inappropriate.
How to deal: The best way to deal with a workplace bully is to try to ignore them altogether. If possible, don’t engage with them. If that’s not possible and the bullying is unbearable, you may have to schedule a time to speak to HR about the situation.
5. The Work Shirker: If you’ve ever worked on a group project at school, you know that there is usually someone who pushes off work and tries to get the rest of the team to carry their weight. Unfortunately, this behavior still occurs in the workplace. Someone who pushes off work may ask you to help them or finish their projects, leave before something is finished, or try to get out of the assignment altogether.
How to deal: Speak to them one-on-one and explain the parts of the project you are working on. Show that you need to finish your sections before you can help with their part. Delegating and communicating what role is expected of everyone will keep things clear.
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