No matter what industry you’re in, or how large or small of a company you work for, you’re bound to meet some, er, “interesting” people that make you question whether or not your life is actually an Office Space sequel. Here are the five types of people you meet in every office, and how to deal with them (without losing your cool or your job).
The One Who Is Soooo Busy
She’s most likely your peer and carrying a similar, if not identical, workload, but somehow she is always just so. damn. busy…and you’re not sure why. No, really, she’d love to chat but she’s just totally swamped right now. She says wishes she had the kind of time that you have, but you secretly wonder if she’s just making herself look busy. Good thing she’s too busy to notice you rolling your eyes. Yet somehow, she always has time to take the full hour at lunch.
How to deal: There are two types of people in the workplace: those who are busy, and those who only look busy. And if you’re an efficient worker who truly is busy, nothing’s more infuriating than an inefficient worker who is good at making themselves look busy.
Their faux-busyness may be annoying to you, but try to see how your boss is perceiving it. Is she rolling her eyes right alongside you, or does she applaud the heavy workload this person talks about during every team meeting? If it’s the latter, your manager may equate the appearance of being busy with success. Unfortunately, you may need to reevaluate how YOU present your work. The reality is, you may be up against this person for a promotion one day. Make sure you’re selling your successes, no matter how small, while maintaining your authenticity.
He may be your boss, or a more senior colleague. Either way, when you’re working on a project for him, he’s there every step of the way—and then some. He wants to be copied on every email, invited to every call, and prefers you do things the “correct” way, aka his way. Once, he even told you what size notebook for your personal notes during meetings (true story).
How to deal: Researchers agree that a micromanager’s behavior stems from their need to be in control, and is most likely not related to your performance. Believe it or not, not all micromanagers are created equal! Those micromanagers who simply have high standards and expect you to produce high quality work may even end up teaching you a thing or two. Instead, it’s the “pathological micromanagers” who interfere with details wayyyy below their pay grade that you should worry about, according to Harvard Business Review.
Convincing a micromanager to give you some breathing room can be a long process. Focus on building trust and catering to the micromanager’s need to be in control. When starting a new project, agree on the actions you’ll take beforehand, provide updates during each step (no matter how tedious it seems to you) and provide a thorough summary afterward. It may be easy to turn defensive—after all, what’s the point of hiring someone if you can’t trust them to do a job? Play the long game, and build your trust through repeated positive actions.
The Perpetual Pessimist
Rain or shine, she’s permanently miserable. No matter what you do, or how well you do it, she always lets you know that she thinks that, “No offense, but this could be way better.” She’s quick to offer criticism, hold the constructive. She also lets you know in a not-so-subtle way that she thinks your wardrobe needs work, too. How rude!
How to deal: Take a deep breath and repeat after me: Kill ‘em with kindness. You may secretly have a few choice words for her, but unfortunately those words will land you in the hot seat with HR. If it’s someone you don’t work closely with, say your good mornings and move on. Remind yourself that you don’t know her personally; therefore, you shouldn’t take her snooty remarks personally.
If avoiding her is inevitable, take it a step further and try to empathize with her—she may be going through issues of her own and is channeling her negative feelings on you. It’s not right, but it is human (albeit rude). If you know there’s no underlying issues and she is just a year-round Grinch, do your best to ignore the comments. Don’t give her the satisfaction of a reaction.
Is there anyone worse than your coworker who keeps repeating how busy they are? Yup. Meet the slacker. The slacker is like that super senior from your college Intro to Psychology class who didn’t contribute a single thing to the group project, then got upset when you removed his name from the report. He somehow graduated and landed a job, and has been here ever since 2012. He rolls in an hour late every day, while you’re routinely turning the lights on in the morning.
How to deal: Get ready for some tough love: this isn’t about the slacker, it’s about you. Yes, it’s irritating to watch him get away with lazing about while you’re carrying a full workload, but you can’t let it get to you. The slacker’s lack of work ethic has zero bearing on the high quality of your work. You may be tempted to discuss the slacker’s performance with your boss, but she may see it as tattling. The one exception: if you’re working on a project that requires the slacker’s input, and he’s not delivering, you should carefully explain the situation to your manager. Otherwise, focus on selling yourself and never pick up the slacker’s slack.
She’s your North Star, your voice of reason, your standing lunch meeting. She’s there when you need to vent over losses and celebrate successes. She tells you when there’s leftover food or free swag, and she’s always down for a coffee run. She is the rare co-worker-turned-friend.
How to deal: Cherish this rare unicorn, and indulge in happy hours. Lots of happy hours.