Coping With Difficult Coworkers

Coping With Difficult Coworkers

Coworkers must work together to be as productive as possible. It can be difficult at times. Here, Geoffrey James, author of Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know, outlines 10 different types of coworkers and explains how they can keep the peace and work better together "It's not difficult once you've spotted the behaviors," he explains.

Here are 10 of the most difficult coworkers and how to deal with them:

  1. The Waffler. Wafflers study everything to death, always seeking that mythical single last bit of information that will make a decision into a no-brainer. If your project hinges on a waffler, establish a deadline, with a default if no course of action is chosen.
  2. The Competitor. The competitor defines the world as a zero-sum game. He always must feel that he's won and that someone else has lost. To deal with him, channel that competitiveness into helping his team win (and somebody else's team lose).
  3. The Dramatist. Dramatists (aka, drama queens) draw from the drama they create because it makes them the center of attention. Unfortunately, giving them attention only increases their appetite, so your best bet is to ignore the histrionics until they run out of steam.
  4. The Iconoclast. Iconoclasts break even the most sensible rules (social and business rules alike), just to show that they can get away with it. To deal with iconoclasts, distance yourself from them as soon as possible, both socially and organizationally.
  5. The Droner. Droners are always ready to give a presentation--usually one that everyone has heard before. To cope, try to avoid any meeting to which a droner has been invited. If that's not possible, answer emails on your tablet or laptop under the guise of "taking notes."
  6. The Frenemy. The frenemy pretends to be your biggest cheerleader but subtly sabotages everything you do. Example: "You did so well in that meeting that almost nobody noticed the typos." Best strategy: Cool the "friendship" and avoid them.
  7. The Vampire. Workplace vampires suck all the energy out of the room by always having a reason that something won't work. Just as traditional vampires avoid sunlight, workplace vampires avoid ridicule. Just say: "Oh, you're just being negative." Then move on.
  8. The Parasite. Parasites wait to see what ideas become popular and then position themselves as the brains behind them. To thwart them, always keep an "audit trail" of your contributions to a project in the form of regular status reports.
  9. The Genius. These are legends in their own minds who talk and talk about their accomplishments but never seem to get anything done. To work with them, lay out frequent (even daily) milestones, and complain loudly to the genius's boss when deadlines are missed.
  10. The Volcano. Volcanoes appear calm and cool but under the veneer is a roiling cauldron of anger and bitterness, which will eventually explode. Your best strategy: Be elsewhere when the volcano blows.

"Ultimately, the best way to look at irritating coworkers is with a sense of humor," says James. "Especially since your coworkers probably think you're pretty irritating sometimes, too."

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