Workplace Personalities + How To Deal | Part I
When you work in an office environment, there’s one skill you’ve got to master or life will be very difficult as long as you work in said office: teamwork. But sometimes working on that team or in that office can come with extra stuff. Like, extra dressings. I’ve been working professionally for about three years now, at two different agencies. And although both of those agencies are complete opposites of each other, they share one commonality: personalities. Of course in any job that requires you to work with people, you’re going to encounter a variety of work styles + the personalities that come with them.
Sometimes, the level of petty that goes on in the workplace is exhausting. But at the end of the day, it’s a game and you gotta be strategic if you’re going to play. Now, I don’t have all the answers, but I know some thangs. Below are a handful of personalities you’re sure to find at work:
The Nosey One.
This employee, be it a man or woman, has a burning desire to be in your business. Oft times, their work is mediocre at best because they spend most of their energy trying to know the inner workings of your life. They tend to chime into conversations they weren’t invited to, ask where certain members of your team are (regardless of the fact they do NOT work with this person) and ask a lot of non-work related questions. In the words of the Fresh Prince, “mind ya bidness, that’s all. Just mind ya bidness!”
How To Deal: Try to avoid this one at all costs, but somehow this person finds a reason to be in your face at some point. Be nice, but guarded. Before you know it, the conversation you were whispering to your team member will be all over the office (and incorrect) and now people are looking at you crazy and you have no idea why. Feed the office gossiper with a long handle spoon from across the courtyard. Catch what I’m throwing?
This person is usually cool with mostly everyone in the office, tends to do quality work and is willing to listen to the most mundane of conversations, only offering feedback as necessary or as they feel comfortable. The observer is probably one of the more intelligent people in the office because they’re actually studying every person they encounter, in one capacity or another. But be careful with this one -- they’re like a sponge, taking and holding in a TON. Once that sponge is squeezed, there’s no telling what could come out. This person is also probably an introvert and has the juice.
How To Deal: Stay on this person’s good side; you don’t want them to have anything negative to say about you. Most days, they’re pretty harmless because they don’t want the drama, but again -- they have the juice and could probably end you and you’d never know.
Pretty much the office Kanye West; this individual believes they are God’s gift to humanity and does not hesitate to identify the Taylor Swift of the office and make them the butt of their “jokes.” The know-it-all always has a story, or life lesson to share -- even when you don’t ask for the advice, they offer. Similar to the nosey one, this person enters conversations with no invite and shoots corny jokes with such a weak delivery, it’s painfully obvious they sit in their office preparing for the deployment that is often met with lackluster applause. Like West, the know-it-all just has to be the center of attention and is usually smart. Ya know, they tend to be well-spoken and know a little bit about a lot of thangs, but sometimes they’re a bit tew murch. Also, their wokeness is questionable. Sometimes things just don’t align…
How To Deal: Let them tell their corny jokes, smile and don’t take it personally. The know-it-all is actually informative and a nice person, they just needs friends. And potentially a breath mint, but that’s petty and none of my business. Moving on.
See, the difference between this one and the nosey one, is that the nosey one is a bit more discrete in their pursuit of privacy invasion; borderline sneaky, really. The gossiper has no shame in their game and it really isn’t hard to identify this person. In the words of Mother Mason, a dog that brings a bone will carry a bone. If an employee comes to you with piping hot tea about someone else, what makes you think they will keep your secrets? Because y’all are cool? Yea, the gossiper tends to make you think y’all are cool; this one is usually charismatic, knows how to work a room and will attempt to get just close enough to you so you feel comfortable sharing with them and before you know it, Jan in Accounting is telling your boss ALL your business. Oh, and don’t think this person cannot come in the form of a dude -- men talk, too. These folks live for drama, probably because they have no one to come home to or any sort of business -- so they create drama and thrive off of sharing tea. Unfortunately, their own tea is quite flavorless and lacking personality. It could stand a longer brew.
How To Deal: In the office, you have to be strategic, remember? Your goal is to not form enemies -- no matter how messy your colleagues may be. There’s good in everyone, but when you see a red flag, don’t ignore. If you see a colleague that’s troublesome, treat them kindly but don’t get too close. For the gossiper in particular, if it’s not related to work, keep the conversation to a minimum.
The do-gooder has one objective at the office -- to do their damn job then go home to their lives. This individual is not to be mistaken for a brown noser or suck up. They simply recognize work is actual work and all they want to do is...well, work. They’re usually well informed about their given tasks, is very much about the business and executes a conference call with multiple teams flawlessly. They are a true professional, but can be mistaken for being a bit uptight; a bit white-washed even (if you work primarily around POC) and more than likely, judged by their colleagues for having a significant other of a different race. Now who someone decides to date, is no one’s business. We know this. But c’mon, let’s not act like people don’t talk and cast judgements they have no business casting. Either way, the do-gooder is usually pretty oblivious to all the conversation that’s going on in the office. After all, they’re there to do a job then move on.
How To Deal: Typically this employee really isn’t problematic -- they’re actually probably someone you should know and have a good working relationship. Always be pleasant when you talk to this one and have some standard small talk topics ready to go when you’re around them (i.e. the weather, Chicago tax increases, the Cubs preparing to win the World Series…)
Oh, I’m not done. There are definitely more personalities found in the workplace than these five. But what I want you to understand is that you’re always going to be surrounded by an assortment of people; some will be cool, some will be dramatic, some will be helpful, etc. Point is, you can’t avoid being around and interacting with people. Folks carry a lot of stuff; you never know what life experiences have made adults the way they are, but you can be in complete control of how you respond. Be an example. Be open to learning about people and their experiences, but know when to take a step back, too. As often as you can, leave work stuff at work. Otherwise, you can become overwhelmed, even obsessive about office shenanigans. It’s also inconsiderate to come home and bombard your significant other with work rants -- it isn’t fair to him/her. Recognize the people you’re working with, plan accordingly and never lose sight of who you are or what you’re willing to take. Remember, you ain’t no chump. Don’t ever play yourself.
Don’t worry, part II is coming...