The Definitive Ranking of the Worst Coworkers and How to Deal
They’re your worst enemy by day, your favorite topic at happy hour by night. They’re bad coworkers. And they come in all shapes and sizes.
How do you deal with them, you ask? A bad coworker is one of the worst things because, in general, young professionals spend more time in the office than anywhere else. You’re with these people a lot. In a cramped, confined space where you’re forced to not only be cordial towards one another, but actually communicate constantly. There is no room for negativity.
Can’t we all just get along? Below are a few examples of how to spot them, how to deal with them, and how not to be one of them.
The “Missed-the-Bus Guy”
Characteristics: Panting. Sweating. Perpetually late for meetings (or pretty much everything). He/she always comes with a “valid” excuse — and your life and work are somehow always screwed up by his/her tardiness.
Catch Phrase: “I can’t believe the bus missed my stop/the train was late/my alarm didn’t work/the dog ate my powerpoint.”
How to deal: It sucks, but make sure you’re the one on top of time-sensitive tasks. If you know that you’re working with someone who isn’t going to get the work in on time, make certain that major projects don’t lie around waiting for him. Your boss will notice who is doing the brunt of the work. And don’t be this guy — it makes people cranky. Show up on time. Set your alarm earlier if you have to. Hit your deadlines.
The ‘Don’t Look At Me’ Girl
Characteristics: You know that person hiding under the desk when assignments and deadlines are doled out? Yep. That’s this person.
Catch Phrase: “I’m not responsible for that/That’s not my job.”
How to Deal: They always find a way to wiggle out of assignments and you’re left with double the workload. This is tricky, but you could try itemizing and dividing tasks. If there is someone higher up involved in the project, CC her on the planning emails. This way, there is a written trail of who is responsible for what. If that person still slacks, at least you’re covered.
Characteristics: This person might come across super friendly. Right away. Maybe too soon. At first it might seem like harmless banter…but then you are suddenly privy to all of the intimate details of his or her life. If you know a coworker’s bikini wax schedule, you probably know too much.
Catch Phrase: “This might be TMI but…”
How to Deal: Politely change the subject. This is a helpful life lesson in general. Try to keep things professional with this person. Having friends within the workplace makes things fun and more comfortable, but if someone doesn’t know where the line is, it can make for awkward days. How to avoid being this person? Simple. If you have to ask if something is TMI, it probably is.
Co-Worker Mommy Dearest
Characteristics: This person is at the same level as you professionally, yet she always seems to know best. Whether it is critiquing the status or quality of your work, or giving “helpful” guidance…it is annoying. You feel like you’re being watched by a parent. Welcome to the professional version of high school.
Catch Phrase: “Make sure you do it this way/Have you thought about trying this/I wouldn’t have done that.”
How to Deal: The best way to combat someone like this is to kill them with kindness and confidence. You want to remain open to suggestions, but be confident in your ideas when you’re presenting them. This type of person can only really control what you allow them to.
The Take Away: There are some people with whom you just won’t get along. If it’s just an issue of clicking with someone, these tips will come in handy. However, if there is a behavior or communication issue that is preventing you from doing your job to the best of your ability, you might need to bite the bullet and have a conversation. Make sure you thoroughly understand your points, and have a polite dialogue prepared. It might help more than you know. Communication is still key.
Disclaimer: I actually really like all of my coworkers. They’re great.
xo, The Capitalista
Alexandra Saville (@CapitalistaBlog) is the Media and Writing Specialist at Law Street Media. She has experience in the publishing and marketing worlds and started her own publishing company right out of college. Her blogs, The Capitalista and Capitalista Careers, focus on the young and the entrepreneurial.