Douglas Conant, an American businessman who served as President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, said, “I strongly believe that you can’t win in the marketplace unless you win first in the workplace. If you don’t have a winning culture inside, it’s hard to compete in the very tough world outside.” The workplace, to be blunt about it, is a jungle where employees sink or swim; where every day becomes a struggle to survive; where the character of the worker is tested and hardened; where different characters clash or unite toward certain goals. Working in an office, in reality, is not for the fainthearted. Since workers will be spending at least 8 hours per day, 5 to 6 days a week, in the office, it pays to be mentally, physically, and psychologically prepared to face the difficulties of working for a living. The office can either be a battleground or haven depending on the employee. Although, admittedly, there are no complete and hard rules on how to cope with different work environments, allow me to offer some suggestions for employees to help them identify and deal with the different personalities in the workplace.
The Gossip is a first kind of personality type that is common in many work environments. Their pastime involve talking about people behind their backs and spreading rumors about others at the same time. Chances are, you may even have been a victim of this kind of people whether you were aware of it or not. Bear in mind that office gossips behave this way out of their own insecurities or to create drama in order to entertain themselves. Gossiping may even be their way of deflecting attention away from their own bad traits or work performance or it might simply be their way to entertain themselves. Either way, gossips are imbalanced and problematic people that leave a negative impact in the work environment and might be a factor in bringing everybody, and the company, down. To effectively communicate and counter the gossip, you need to realize and accept the fact that it may be difficult to effectively communicate with the gossip or to change their behavior. But if you’re still willing to deal with the situation head-on, you can just approach the gossip directly and tell this person the impact of their behavior on you with a statement like, “I felt really upset by the comment you made about me.” If it did not work, you may opt to try staying out of gossipy conversations and avoid sharing details of your personal life with the office gossip. Just stay as far away as possible from such people. Realize that their behaviors are attributable to their own faults and insecurities. It’s not your fault, it’s theirs. If all else fails, let go of the idea that gossip within the office can be controlled. Instead, just focus on your own behavior and set a good example for others.
Another type of personality is the Blamer. This kind of officemate is the first to always point his or her finger at someone or something else when something bad happens. For sure, most of us, in some point in our lives, have found ourselves pointing the finger at someone else when, in reality, we were the actual cause of a situation or problem. But “blamers” (also referred to as “guilt trippers”) are different because they constantly shift responsibility away from themselves and onto others whenever things go wrong. They are simply too perfect to commit mistakes. They will rarely acknowledge or apologize for their own misgivings, mistakes, bad decisions, or poor performance. Oftentimes, they will even stretch the truth in order to convince others that their version of events is accurate and factual even when it’s not. To effectively deal with the blamer, try to redirect their attention away from blame and toward facts that are verifiable. They can never argue with hard evidence. If applicable, own up to any mistakes that you’ve actually made if they attempt to “guilt trip” you. Do not engage in the blame game with them. You’ll most likely to lose since they’ve had a lot of practice. Also, try to maintain firm boundaries around the blamer and do not to let them push you around. Getting a blamer to realize his or her own part in the problems may prove difficult. For your sake, try creating your own safety and limits around them.
There is a highly emotional type who may “fly off the handle” at any time. Let’s call the as the “Flyers.” Sometimes called the “drama queen” or “drama king,” they are very emotionally reactive people. Oftentimes, you may find yourself drawn to this type of person in the office when they’re in a good mood because they can be funny, entertaining, and energetic. However, when types like this feel aggravated, they will “fly off the handle” and became very angry and dramatic. They may also be unreliable in following through with tasks and bad about making decisions based on emotions instead of facts and data. To deal with this kind, you may try to use praise for the positive things they bring to the office before delivering any critiques. You can also try the direct approach and tell them how their mood swings affects you if you. Also, try to remain calm when they’re in one of their moods and try to also calm them down if possible. If all else fails, accept that you may be unable to change many of their behaviors and instead focus on protecting your own interests during the times that you find yourself in the unfortunate position of dealing with their high emotionality.
The Control Freak
The Control Freak is the type that is also common to many companies. This type is often critical of others who do not do things their way. They may have traits of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) even if they do not have the disorder itself. They feel the need to control the outcome of everything and everyone around them in almost all aspects of work life. They may also be perfectionists and have impossibly high expectations for themselves and others. However, they may be a valuable asset to your company or organization due to their high attention to detail. To effectively communicate with them, especially since he or she may very well be your supervisor or boss, you may give them praise for his or her attention to detail and contributions to your workplace. Then, provide him or her detailed reports or itinerary, or work process to avoid ambiguity that will surely raise their anxiety levels. Letting go of control at times when the situation or task does not matter as much to you will greatly contribute to your peace of mind. When they’re need for controlling is at its peak, just go with the flow and do not take it personally.
The Victim is another personality type that is an obvious one to spot. This is the person who is a constant complainer and attempts to draw people’s attention to their problems (or perceived problems) every day. They are the ones who complain about their work duties and try to convince everyone that they aren’t treated fairly and have more work than everyone around them. Or they may play the victim when something goes wrong on a team project and claim that they were left out of important conversations. To deal with this type, try to exercise patience with them during conversations and recognize that they actually believe that they have been victimized. Try to point out evidence to the contrary when they begin complaining about their bad circumstances. Again, they cannot deny hard evidence. Attempt to empathize with them if possible while being careful not to support their tendency toward helplessness. To protect yourself, maintain your own boundaries during conversations and do not let them suck you into constant complaining about the same topics.
Though there are still a lot of types out there, the bottomline in dealing with them would be to use your head in coping and working with them while protecting yourself and interests at the same time.