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Handling the Toughest Types of Characters in the Office…

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We deal with a wide range of people in the office on an almost daily basis and some can be tough to handle and/or difficult to manage. Here’s how to handle the most difficult types of characters in the office:

The Office Pessimist

Generally anti-everything, critical of staff and their roles in public, small-minded approach, doesn’t like change.

How to handle:

Make that person ” devil’s advocate” – ask them to spot problems/issues that others cannot see BEFORE they offer their thoughts publicly

Don’t give them room to manoeuvre – ensure they know you remember what their thoughts were last time but that you want the team to learn from their mistakes – basically turn their negativity into positivity

When they start to say there are problems with a new idea, get them to list all the positives first before you’ll see their negatives – encourage them to at least contribute some positive thoughts to the idea

The Office Loner

Doesn’t interact with staff in work, shies away from teamwork, never seen at work do’s (outside of work) – care may be a private or shy person

Refuses or is unable to share information that helps others without being asked

Work style more of a quiet, get on with it kind of way

How to handle:

Identify if that staff member is introverted or are they surrounded by more outgoing (i.e louder!) staff members?

Don’t put a loner on the spot in team meetings, look for subtle body behaviour that shows they might be comfortable to input their opinion – to do this it might be an idea to give them an agenda in advance so they can think things through.

“Mr/Mrs Pushing the envelope the wrong way”

Tests management authority

Bends the rules

Exploits sick leave to its fullest

Works to rule but on a whim

How to handle:

The way to counter is to ensure you keep an open door for their feedback on issues but don’t be afraid to use discipline

Check that your expectations are realistic. Don’t lift your expectations just because you want them to work to their highest capacity they will only realise and look to exploit or undermine you.

Consider what motivates that person into doing more than just messing about..

The Office Clown

Takes any opportunity to make others laugh usually at their own expense, can be disruptive but also a welcome tonic to lighten the atmosphere.

How to handle:

Usually, people like this love the attention, give them something to prepare for the meeting that will allow them the attention but not give them centre stage when they want it.

Make sure they are reigned in when they become too disruptive

Give this person tasks that will suit their character. For example, they could be put in charge of arranging all the staff social events or team building activities.

The Office Bully

Uses their own position of power to get what they want.

Intimidates quieter members of staff to inflate own sense of self-importance.

Will take any opportunity to show up the mistakes of others very publicly. And will deflect blame from their own mistakes to others.

How to handle:

Firstly, find out if this person realises they are bullying others. It may be that they just think they are being funny. Speak with them in private.

If they are a genuine bully, take company procedure steps to tackle the problem. Make a record of any incidents and speak to your manager. (If your manager is the bully then go to HR).

The Office Gossip

Idly chats to everyone in a friendly manner but stores information on everyone with scary precision. This person is desperate to be liked and wants to divulge information to become popular. “Two-faced” and can be a backstabber.

How to handle:

Don’t enter into gossipy conversations with this person and certainly don’t ever give any information about yourself that you want to be kept private. If they attempt a gossiping session with you just politely make your excuses and run away.

The Office Hypochondriac:

Has six boxes of tissues, supplements and an array of medicines on their desk. They use hand sanitizer at every opportunity. They take a lot of time off for doctor appointments (which usually come to nothing!)

How to handle:

Don’t give this person the opportunity to talk about their health. Don’t mention anyone else’s health issues either. If you manage this person, make sure their doctor, hospital appointments, eye tests, dental appointments, counselling sessions, cat scans etc don’t cost the company too much!

What other characters do you encounter in your office?

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