Every day we work with colleagues, managers and clients with different personalities. Some easy to work with and others not so much e.g. the Chatterbox, the Know-It-All, the Moaner. Without even knowing it, you probably frustrate several people yourself.
“Everybody is somebody’s difficult person at least some of the time.” - Brinkman & Kirschner say. Become aware that at all you say and do, is being noticed by others around you – from the tea lady to the office manager. To make sure you are not one of the office villains - the person that others try to avoid at all costs, read on . . . .“You can't always choose the people you work with, but you can choose to learn how to deal with them - they are all different." Rowan Speedwell, Kindred Hearts
1. The Computer Peeping Tom: Ensure you are not this annoying person - you know…the one constantly peering into someone’s computer. No matter the urge to see what others are up to, realise this is an invasion of a colleague's personal space area. Save yourself the embarrassment of being labelled the office’s computer Peeping Tom.
Solution: There are screen shields that you can buy that help prevent people from easily looking over your shoulder. If it becomes so irritating say: "George, do you mind not peering into my computer - its distracting me from getting on with my job."
2. The Know-It-All: Be confident but be careful that you don't come across as the know-it-all. The person that always thinks: "It's my way or the highway." Stop walking around the office as if you own the place - watch your body language, facial gestures and "arrogant" words. Be authentic.
Solution: Know-it-all’s think their way of doing things is the only way. They are normally confrontational and argumentative. Meet the challenge with a smile, catch them unawares with friendliness. If you don't agree with them - you don't need to. Say: "That is your opinion of how the situation should be handled and I respect that, however I believe we could also look at this alternative solution..." Make sure your solution is backed up by solid facts.
3. The Gossiper: Gossiping is not networking! At all times attempt to stay clear of gossip. No one has ever been promoted because they were the best office gossiper.
Solution: If James says: "I believe Anne suffers from anorexia - look how thin she is." Deflect from the conversation by saying: "Talking about weight-you look like you have lost some weight, you look good" or say “You shouldn’t always believe everything you hear.” If Thumi says: "Karl snuck out of the office at 4 yesterday." Say: "I can understand why - he normally puts in really long hours."
For a 7 step video on how to handle gossipy co-workers &feature=related">click here
4. The Flirter: You may be flattered by the attention but office romances seldom work and are frowned upon by many companies. Here are some common flirtatious signals to look out for:
Women - Tossing and playing with your hair, seductively licking your lips, wearing very revealing, sexy clothing. Men - preen themselves, straighten a tie, smooth a lapel, touch their faces, smooth their hair, stand like a cowboy. Become aware of the signals you could be sending out - intentionally or not. The “office flirt” is not what you want to be memorable for. You also don’t want to be accused of sexual harassment.
Solution: From the start stop a flirt's advances - don't humour him/her. If they ask you out, tell them you have other plans. If they buy you gifts or snacks constantly, say "thanks, but no thanks" If the provocative behaviour continues, let your offender know you feel uncomfortable by their behaviour and you want it to stop. Keep your tone firm but stay friendly. Tell them that you're married, taken or not interested if they still persist. If they persist - report them to your line manager or HR. For a great video on more tips to deal with the office flirt click here.
5. The Moaner: Nobody likes a moaner. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Moan and you moan alone. People will start getting tired of hearing about your terrible mother-in-law; your neighbour’s barking dog; the long hours you had to work over the weekend. Don’t convert your colleagues into your personal "agony aunts" - otherwise they will run away as soon as they see you.
Solution: Don’t agree with them - it further encourages the complaining. Don’t solve their problems - you can’t. When he starts his usual complaint, say: “We know you feel that way - complaining won’t make it any better and it’s unpleasant for everyone else.” If you can’t get results by discussing it with him, take it up with your manager. Disruptive behaviour in the workplace doesn’t help anyone. Minimise his influence by spending less time with that colleague - negativity is contagious! Ask them to start focusing on solutions, not their problems.
6. The Bully: This person is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting. They use put downs, insults, taunting and teasing in order to embarrass, humiliate or show off their power. Their behaviour is deliberate, disrespectful and repeated. Bullies often focus on someone they believe is weaker than them and won’t stand up for themselves. If you are reading this and think...oh no that sounds like me – please seek counselling.
Solution: Don't ignore the situation. Tell the person you find their comment/behaviour unacceptable and you will take formal action against them if it is repeated. Explain how their actions are impacting on your work. Tell them what behaviours you will not put up with in the future e.g. say: "I will not tolerate any name calling from you anymore." By making them aware of their behaviour - you are putting them on notice. Don’t lose your temper - let them know that you are serious about not allowing them to walk all over you. Follow this up in writing to them - so you have proof if the bullying persists. Documentent it - keep a log of their actions. If the bullying continues - inform your line manager and/or HR as they have a responsibility to resolve the issue.
7. The Joker: When in doubt…leave it out. If you have just met a potential client or new colleague don’t tell them your latest funniest joke - they might have a completely different sense of humour to you (or none at all). Don’t tease or laugh at someone else’s expense - nobody wants to be made the butt of jokes.
Solution: Your first choice in reacting to an offensive joke should be - not to laugh. This is often enough feedback to a joke teller that his joke missed the target. Use "I" language, say: “That joke made me uncomfortable.” rather than “That joke was in poor taste.”
8. The Chatterbox: She is friendly and wants to share all her thoughts, plans and ideas with you. Her idle chatter is keeping you from concentrating on your work.
Solution: Tell her you have trouble concentrating while you are listening to her interesting stories. You'd love to hear them at some other time, just not while you're working/having to meet deadlines. If you enjoy her company, tell her to come with you for lunch.
9. The Yes Person: In an effort to please people and avoid confrontation, this person over-promises and under-delivers or does not deliver at all. They agree with everything others say so they are liked and accepted.
Solution: If you need them to carry out certain tasks - make sure that they understand what you need from them and set clear time guidelines as to when you need this. Remember that a “Yes” doesn’t mean it will get done. Follow up and avoid surprises. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
No matter what type of person you have to work with or situation you might find yourself, always remember that respect and self - control is key in your interaction. As long as you are aware and try to understand the different types of people in the workplace, you will be able to handle anything.
Haydee Antezana of Profesional Impressions email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.profimpressions.co.za