A Guide To Dealing With The Four Most Difficult Types Of Coworkers

The workplace can often feel like a roller coaster, with less-than-pleasant coworkers making the ride particularly bumpy some days. While most people know how to play nice with others, there are always a few who never mastered that skill set.

How should you deal with difficult coworkers? Here are some tips for not letting them get you down.

The Bully

According to a study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 49 percent of employees have reported being affected by bullying in the office. Often the most common type of office monster, the bully typically spends more time verbally abusing, intimidating or harassing coworkers than getting work done.

The most complicated kind of bully? Your boss. While it has become more difficult for people to bully their way to the top, there are still bosses who use their authority to micromanage, humiliate you in front of others, or constantly question your contribution to the company.

But the office bully doesn’t have to ruin your day. First, remember that office bullies often target people who have brought something positive–such as a new client or opportunity–into the workplace. Did you do something praise-worthy at work recently? It’s likely that everyone, including the bully, has noticed.

Second, hold your ground. It’s only a matter of time before the bully finds someone new to pick on, leaving you to continue doing what you do best.

The Loudmouth

If you work full time, you probably spend more than 40 hours each week at the office. With that much time around the same group of people, someone is bound to get on your nerves. A common culprit is the office loudmouth, who has either forgotten how to use his or her “inside voice” or uses company time talking to others about personal affairs. The louder the voice and the more intimate the details, the more annoying he or she becomes.

The good news about the office loudmouth is that he’s likely unaware that he is bothering others, so the solution may be as simple as letting him know. Instead of speaking in front of others, ask to step aside and kindly mention that it’s more difficult for you to concentrate on work when he or she is loud. Chances are the volume will come down.

 The Gossiper

Who’s pregnant? Who’s dating who? Who’s getting fired? While you might like to think that gossip ends in high school, some coworkers never grow out of it.

Those who spend as much time at the water cooler as they do at their desks make office gossip their secondary job. And while at first it may be fun to hear details about someone else, coworkers often get fed up with the constant backbiting, which eventually creates a tense work environment.

Not sure if gossip is the real thing? It’s helpful to arm yourself with the facts about a situation from unbiased sources—not the gossiper. And before you ask the gossiper for the latest tidbits about your coworkers, ask yourself: Would I want others talking about me behind my back? If the answer is no, it’s time to tune out.

The office gossiper needs an audience; without one, she has no one to spread the juicy details of the latest office romance. The next time the gossiper tries to tell you the latest tantalizing news, politely excuse yourself from the conversation.

If tuning out is impossible, it’s OK to approach the gossiper and nicely explain your frustration. If the gossiping continues, it may be time to have a chat with the human resources folks.

The Scene Stealer

Was that your great idea that someone else just took credit for? It’s happened to everyone: You have an amazing idea that somehow gets stolen from you and made to look as if it came from someone else. The scene stealer is less worried about your feelings and more concerned with looking good in front of others—even at your expense.

Make sure you’re recognized for good work by keeping it to yourself until you’re ready to implement it. Scene stealers can’t take credit for what they don’t know. When you’re ready to spill, set up a paper or e-mail trail that you can reference later, just in case.

Also, keep your boss regularly updated on your projects and include any ideas you may have. If it turns out that your boss is the scene stealer, use this to your advantage by posing your idea in front of others. Having witnesses makes it more difficult for someone to pass off your idea as his own.