Every Type of Coworker You'll Ever Have (and How to Handle Them)

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Gabriella DiDio26

It’s 6:30 am on a Monday. You get out of bed, exhausted, and slip on your trusty black work pants, button-down shirt and watch, then head out the door to your car. When you arrive at the office building, you swipe the access card that hangs around your neck, get on the slow elevator and wait as it climbs up to the third floor. Then, you sit down at a cubicle marked with your name to start your day.

As you log into Windows, you pause to think about how the day could turn out. Suddenly, an array of potential characters and thoughts come to mind. 

Will John talk down to you today as he does every single other day? Ugh, it just gets under your skin. Or, will you run into Kim, who seems to be keeping a tight leash on you ever since the CEO noticed your skills on that last account? Will Tanya burst your bubble with “the truth” as she sees it? 

Work doesn’t have to be a drab experience filled with negativity and a fight for survival. When you were first hired for your job, you were so excited, remember? What happened? 

You don’t have the right tools to deal

When Brian and Emily start gossiping about what happened at the last happy hour, you must admit that sometimes you go along to get along. It’s just easier that way, even if it makes you uncomfortable. 

The problem is that you need to acquire the right tools for every coworker situation you may face — from the gossips to the two who are battling it out for that promotion. You can’t control who you will be around at the office, but you can control how you respond when you have the proper mindset — and instructions. 

We’ve rounded up the coworkers you might encounter everywhere you go, plus how to deal with them in a productive way that doesn’t hurt your professional reputation (or your personal wellbeing). 

1. The person that’s always right

This type of individual is a dime-a-dozen. They always get the last say in meetings and insist on their opinion. Naturally, others rally behind this behavior because this person exudes confidence. Even if their work is messy or inaccurate, the person that’s “always right” will continue to excel because of the authority they project.

How to handle them:

This behavior is tough to work with. At first, be patient and see how you get along with this person. If stepping on your toes becomes a pattern, speak with them after you’ve had time to reflect on what you want to say.

2. The control freak

Much like the person that loves to be right, the control freak has a very strong personality. They feel they are important and that they always know the best (and often, only) way to do things. Because of this mentality, others don’t get the chance to show their talents because the control freak is too busy interrupting with the “right way.”

How to handle them:

Maintain your professionalism. If there are too many frustrating incidents for you to deal with, plan a time to speak with this co-worker privately when you are calm. Explain why the situation isn’t working well for you, and how it can be fixed so that both parties can work well together. 

3. The martyr

The martyr is always doing way too much work — every single day! This person keeps their head down and doesn’t ask for much in return.  Thus, they often are forgotten about when it’s time for a promotion.

How to handle them:

If early in their career, guide them and make sure they call attention to the work that they do for recognition and praise.

4. The duo that fights for control

This is two or more employees that are in a fight for power over a situation. One always wants to be in control and right. This duo may consist of two alpha personalities, and they love to one-up each other.

How to handle them:

If you find yourself fighting for power, then take a step back. Recognize that you can get farther by working as a team. Draw strengths from your co-workers and see these as complementary to yours. 

5. The queen bee

Or, Betty Crocker with a twist. She will smile to your face, but as soon as you turn your head, she’ll have gossiped about your latest interaction.

How to handle them:

Avoid gossip about any of your co-workers. It’s best to stay out of sweeping office drama.

6. The role model

This is a shining star and the person you aspire to be like. If you find the role model in your office, make sure they have all the traits of a true role model.

How to handle them:

Try to emulate their good aspects, recognizing that you also have unique talents also. Ask this person if you are able to shadow them for a day. 

As I mentioned before, you can only control yourself. One way to expand your ability to handle sticky professional situations? Research and find a career coach that can help. 

Now over to you. You've got this. 

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Gabriella DiDio is tired of the struggles of getting ahead in her career. So, instead of revolting, she created Taupe Shoes — an empowering website for women that can help you become stronger through your work dilemmas. Download this quick guide to discover the 5 most common reasons why your coworker or boss upsets you at work.  And you can follow Gabriella on Twitter.