The Workplace, the Minefield of the Crazies

25 Nov

By: Shelly Anglin Smith

Ahhh the workplace. Such a conundrum of experiences… good and bad. You know I like watching “The Office”. A lot of what goes on in that show accurately depict life at the office. Seeing the “goings on” on the screen, I can finally get to have a good laugh or make all the comments I want about a particular situation that I’ve had to face or about particular persons that really sit on your patience and try your nerves. Oftentimes I’d want to give them a good tongue lashing or even have had to clench my fists and squeeze them tightly by my side to prevent a hand from suddenly flying up of its own volition and connecting with the offending person’s nose. A nice thought yes, but not a good course of action if one wishes to hold on to one’s job. Worse if it’s the boss. What can I say? With the range of personalities that exist in such a small environment – the workplace – it’s a wonder that more persons don’t actually come to blows, for its is typical that on any given day at work, one can go through such a range of emotions and experiences and with so many different types of people, it can literally make you feel like freaking out by the end of the day. All you can do is drag yourself home to take you sanity back to peak.

So for all those like me, as an ode to the “crazies” at the office, let’s pop a bottle of chardonnay, kick off our shoes, lay back in our favorite lazy-boy, and “mello out” (and no we don’t need a glass) as we reflect now on the various office personalities and figure out the best way to deal with them.

The Constant Complainer

He or she may have once been a model employee, a colleague that has worked for the company for years longer than he or she might have expected. Although after a few confrontations with the boss later, they prefer to be the negative voice at work. This type of person always hears the bad news first and enjoys circulating them to his fellow employees.

To handle a constant complainer is to keep ones opinion in perspective. No; don’t roll your eyes and tell them to shut up for once. The issues that they have against the management should not affect your own goals and your relationship with the bosses. Instead of changing their opinions, concentrate on shaping your own. Complainers are sometimes completely justified in their complaints, but still allow room for more objective facts concerning the issue involved.

The Company Gossip

This personality type is one of those that I dislike the most as they usually cause a lot of damage by what they do. The company gossip exists for the controversies and conflicts that may arise in the company. Although seldom a part of the authorised loop, the company gossip will consistently situate themselves to “accidentally” eavesdrop on private exchanges or intercept restricted memos and telephone calls. They concentrate on everything but their own job, tending to consistently overstep boundaries and make rude, racial or otherwise inappropriate remarks and can’t wait for another sad victim to feed them with any type of confidential information; which they will promptly distort and spread all throughout the office. The main effect of the company gossip is the loss of trust and misinformation among peers. Some colleagues may find a covert association with the company gossip, hoping to acquire information that will be valuable to them. This is typically an unhealthy alliance, and something you should, by all means, avoid (ie RUN!). Deal with the company gossip by not associating with them; courteously but firmly tell them that you are not interested in what they have to share. If they approach you with a new rumor, politely but firmly inform them that you are not interested in what they have to offer. Gossips tend to seek out only those who are eager to hear the latest.

Information Hoarder or Miser

This type of person gathers important information and conceals them away for future use. Man, have I had many an encounter with this type. They will hold on to this information until they are contented that their own needs have been met. Dealing with the “information hoarder” may be very tricky, because in a sense they do possess most of the cards. You need to maintain a normal face when you deal with such people. They can hold out as long as they need to if they do not consider you trustworthy. But if you come across as, say, “Jody, the nice lady who works in accounting”, then they might more likely offer you what you need. Appeal to their human side but recognize their power as well; and make sure to smile to help ease the pain.

Braggers or Know-it-alls

You’ve already done all you know on how to fix a certain circumstance, to no avail. So now you must call in the reinforcements – The know-it-alls. They may be an expert consultant or an experienced repairman, but an absolute failure as a co-worker. This is tough if you want to sustain a pleasant working relationship with this useful and skillful co-worker. Always remember that you won’t be able to transform their overconfidence and arrogance overnight but you can try to promote a connection outside the workplace environment. Perhaps you could invite them to an after-work activity and be able to wind down or even invite them to an informal party. Braggers oftentimes use their intellect as a cover against a possible intimacy with their co-workers. It might be that they do not realize that their remarks and sudden dismissals would sound as cruel as they do. You can try to suggest to them privately that they should use more caution when dealing with their colleagues.


This type of person has daily temperatures which you should consider before entering into any conversation with them. These can be a challenge as they may be perfectly nice one day, then suddenly unreasonable the next. Supervisory positions who are mood swingers usually create an atmosphere of dread and uncertainty towards their subordinates. You just can’t really tell if they will be open to your idea or will shut you out of their office. I’ve always found these to be the most problematic, because it seems as if there’s just no pleasing them. And if it’s a woman-to-woman relationship, woe to the one lower on the office totem pole! However, the most excellent way to deal with this type of superior is striking while the iron is hot. So that the unpleasant days won’t influence your own goals greatly, obtain as much task done with them on their pleasant days. Set aside the bad news for their pleasant days, where they would likely deal with it wisely. The flare-ups are hardly personal, it may seem that way but as long as you can detach yourself from the impact of their self-inflicted rage, you can definitely endure the mood swinger unharmed.

Ok, so those are some of the main types; I’m sure you know others. And of course some persons are a mixture of two or more. But irrespective of the type, remember that dealing with the many different personalities in the workplace is essential to make communicating and working with people easier. So do try. And with all that expressed, I’ll stop here and conclude on this one note of reminder while I drink my last glass of chardonnay: While you are busy complaining about others, they’re busy complaining about you. So to some of these people that you’d like to stomp into a pulp while grinning from ear to ear like a maniac, you aren’t so darling yourself sweetheart. 


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.