5 toxic types of co-workers and how to deal with them

These types of co-workers just know how to suck the fun right out of everything in the office

Cleo Pimentel-Capili, Special to Guides
07:00 July 17, 2017
Toxic employee

Research shows that difficult employees in the workplace create a negative and toxic environment that can impact you emotionally as well as mentally, while also affecting your physical well-being. Most of all, the drama queen or king who spiels non-productive venting sessions will certainly waste your time.

Here are five kinds of co-workers you need to be wary of:

The tackling intimidator

Who are they? This co-worker is both envious and resentful. They believe that they should have what you have or be who you are.

What do they do? In return, this person attacks you personally even while discussing business-related issues. The situation may become unbearable when this co-worker lashes out on you. Eventually you will realise that they are doing so out of sheer insecurity about their own jobs.

The tackling intimidator

Tip: Don’t give them the pleasure of magnifying small tics. Never get affected and encourage yourself to start working on a project that will enhance your skills, excite you and motivate you to be better. This is a sweet revenge and a great way to deflect any undesirable feelings.

Source: Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D., Industrial-Organisational Psychology Practitioner and co-author of "Working With Difficult People".

The chicken little

Who are they? The negative downers of the office.

What do they do? It’s like the sky is always falling on them. Even if you share some good news, they will always find a problem in it. The problem is they don’t realise how pessimistic they have become. 

The chicken little

Tip: To deal with this type of person you need to show them how happy and grateful you are. You show gratitude to all things in life. Try not to engage too much and never fall into the trap of becoming a sympathetic audience member to their woes, or you'll be their regular go-to for complaints.

Source: Lea McLeod, Career Coach and Author at The Muse, an online career resource portal.

The gossip monger

Who are they? There's always one in everyone's office.

What do they do? These types of employees just can’t get enough of chatting about their co-workers. Every office has gossip, but every office also has the odd loudmouth, who can't be trusted. 

The gossip mongers

Tip: Deal with difficult issues involving gossip by detaching from the story and staying away from the bearer of all office news. If the person starts spinning a story (“Have you heard about...?”), just say “I have no idea. Sorry,” or “Umm, I’m not comfortable talking about my co-workers. Let’s talk about something else.”

Source: Universal Class, Inc., an online continuing education courses provider.

The nit-picker

Who are they? This person is smart. A co-worker who is very meticulous.

What do they do? They are always on time or ahead of deadlines, very early but last to leave the office, has a by-the-book work ethics, has a very neat desk, very prim and proper, and always almost gets things done perfectly. But, they nit-pick – obsessively, all the time. They will find fault in every paper, report, font size, font colour, and will bug you or worse stand behind you until you correct every detail just the way they want it.

The nit picker

Tip: Whether this guy is your team mate or line manager, it is best to tell the nit-picker about your boundaries ahead of time. Be straightforward especially with work schedules. Just assure them of your quality work and trust that they will respect you and your work.

Source: Carly Alaimo, Co-author and Content Manager at Avelist/The Muse

The busy wannabe

Who are they? The busy wannabe is "busy", "slammed", "swamped" and will use his or her charm to seduce you to help.

What do they do? They keep bragging about how busy they are! It truly sucks. They are loud with a big personality and always in everyone’s business. They always make it look like they are so busy and buried underneath paperwork or would literally get their hands dirty just to manipulate you into believing that he or she is a productive employee.  

Busy wannabe

Tip: If you feel that the 'quicksander' goes snooping around your desk, be straightforward and tell the person that you know your role and priorities. Never fall under their guise of trying to work crazy hours making you feel unproductive and lacking of worth. Remember, if you finish early, you are not lazy, just efficient.

Source: Carly Alaimo, Co-author and Content Manager at Avelist/The Muse

Other References:

Dealing with Difficult People, a report from the Programme on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.