Whether you have been working for donkey years or fresh out of college, the workplace can be a war zone or a safe haven depending on how you find your way around. Every office has an assortment of personalities ranging from the ethical, to the lazy to the downright insolent. The key to making it out alive at the end of the day is knowing how to identify and deal with these different personalities, whether it’s your boss, your assistant, or the guy who cleans your desk.…
The overly ambitious employee
He seems great at first, but then he starts to irritate people with his ideas that never seem to run out. He has plans for the company, at some point, you suspect he has shares. He then starts noticing just how lazy everyone else is and this is something that would anger even the nicest of people. After a while, he claims he can’t work under such slow conditions and threatens to resign. But after months, he is still there, singing the same song. He will have a new business idea every time you see him with a proper strategy on how to execute it and become the next Bill Gates. And this is the guy who stays longest in the company.
The adorable one
It’s not even just that she’s cute— which she is — it’s that everything about her is cute. She wears the sweetest perfume and little cute dresses. She is like a doll. Everyone likes her. She has cute notebooks, a cute phone case, cute laptop bag, even her voice is cute. And the worst part is, she actually really is nice! You can’t even dislike her, because she’s just that sweet.
The office beggar
Whether it is a flash disk, note book, pen, phone cable or even ear phones, this person wants to borrow it all. They never have anything of their own. It isn’t that they don’t have money; it is just that they prefer to wait on other people to do everything for them. The worst part is that they are careless with other people’s things and have a high chance of losing what is lent to them. But they will have no shame in coming back again.
The office-is-home guy
He wants to use the office driver like he is his personal chauffeur. He gets so comfortable in office and always talks to the bosses like he would his peers and bullies interns into believing that he is the boss around the office. He asks the tea lady to keep the tea coming like she was assigned to him. When you are new in the building, you will think he is the owner of the institution, even when you clearly know it’s government owned. If you landed on his paycheck you might even find you earn more than he does. But that doesn’t matter, he is home.
The lazy one
There is a reason they say 8am – 5pm. There is always that one person who didn’t get the memo. 9:30am is the earliest they will come to office and sneak into their seat like it is the first time it has happened. As soon as the boss or supervisor gets a phone call around 4pm they are out. They are always seeking for sick leaves and “killing” their relatives just to get two days of fake burial leave. Ever since they started work, they have lost more loved ones than the whole office combined. On return from this leave, their eyes are red, but not from mourning of course, from the hangover threatening to end their life.
Whatever you do, don’t let anything you want to remain private get to this person. They will spread it like a wildfire. As if that isn’t enough, they even change the story and make it a little juicier. By the time the story gets back to you, you can’t even recognise it. Whatever anyone did over weekend, doesn’t last an hour before it gets through to the whole office. They don’t care if it’s a rumour, as long as it gets out there.
I smell cigarette smoke, who is smoking? Definitely John. The one who is always walking out for a quick smoke. The outside is decorated with burnt-out cigarette sticks. About 20 employees have all quit smoking at some point, but not this guy. It is amazing how he gets any work done because every time you look up, he is out smoking. And when he is done, he remembers he had something important to tell you and you wish he had told you before he went out to suck on sticks because the smell is just not nice.
The one no one knows
He has been in the company for about five years but for some reason, no one knows him. There are so many questions about this person — who is he? Where did he come from? Anyone who can recognise him probably won’t know his name and will refer to him as “that guy”.
He just appears every day in office, usually very early, and leaves in the night. Hardly a word uttered all day. He has worked in the same office for five years but if someone were to refer to him, it would take people ages to understand who the person is.
Again, it would be something like, “Ah. That guy who sits in the corner?” This fellow does his work with the efficiency of a particularly animated robot, so it’s not like anyone’s complaining.He’s the real hero, the mysterious employee.
The ancient one
He has seen it all but refuses to give up on work. He wears his old fashioned ties, his clothing hasn’t changed and he gets to work on time, leaves on time but doesn’t want to give up on working. His son almost has grandchildren but age doesn’t mean a thing to him. He is slow at doing things but still gets them done. He’s a nice person to deal with, and everyone likes him because he is naturally a pleasant guy.
Have you had a meeting that was to last for an hour but instead went to three? There is always that person that wants to argue about everything. He will bring up new ideas just when you think the meeting has ended. He wants to have a say on every topic discussed in the meeting. You are not a bad person, but sometimes you just want to put some sellotape on his mouth and see how quick the meeting will go. Worst part of it all is that they never actually miss any meeting.
The intern, the newly married assistant, the tea lady and receptionist, have all fallen victim to this one’s “moves”. He has a job to do but his eyes are stationed on the long legged assistant at her desk. He notices that she changed her hair style or wore a new necklace. He is probably married or engaged but a little “eye candy” never hurt anyone - at least that is what he tells himself. He will flirt with anyone with a cleavage and pulse. New arrivals barely survive a week before he hits on them. Strangely, no one has given in to his advances, but that won’t stop him.
The loud one
This one is by far the most annoying. When he picks a call, you are forced to assume that he is trying to communicate with people in Katuna. When he is at another’s desk, anyone within a five mile radius can hear him. When he laughs, you hold onto something because the ground actually shakes a little. He is that loud. Having a conversation with him over lunch makes people suspect that he is interrogating a terrorist.
This one never has any kind words for anything or anyone. He oozes with negative energy just. The slightest attempt at a compliment is always followed with a “but”.
The moody one
This one assumes that people are supposed to understand that they are in a bad mood. You can’t keep up with their mood swings even if you tried. One day, they are all smiles and before you know it, they are walking by your desk looking like you just farted. Attempts to say “hello” fall on a “talk-to-the-hand” attitude. You try to imagine what you did wrong but nothing comes to mind. Later, when the swinging mood has passed, the person is back at your desk trying to act like nothing is wrong. Very annoying this one.
How to handle personality conflicts at work
At some point in our professional lives, most of us will have to deal with people we just don’t like or can’t seem to get along with. A clash of personalities is most likely at the root of these conflicts. Despite our best efforts, we sometimes just can’t seem to make it work.
The unfortunate result is that the quality and enjoyment of our work suffers, and our stress levels skyrocket. In most cases when personality conflicts happen in the workplace, the entire team is disrupted as well.
Different types of personality conflicts
Work style differences – people work in different ways. That’s just a reality in the workplace.
Some people work quickly, completing their tasks as soon as they are assigned, while others like the rush of waiting till the deadline is looming. Some like to work on what appeals to them first, while others prefer to work methodically down their checklist from step to step.
Background differences – gender, ethnicity, social economic status, political views, and religious backgrounds can cause people to view situations with different perspectives. Our perception is in large part determined by our personal experiences and beliefs. These differences in perspective have a major impact on how we interact with others.
Attitude differences – cynicism, arrogance, and irritability all contribute to an attitude of negativity. A negative attitude interferes with effective communication. Nobody wants to be around a terribly negative person. If you are a naturally upbeat, optimistic type of person, you may have difficulty dealing with someone who has a negative attitude. Some people constantly complain, looking for flaws, while others look for the positive and focus on finding solutions. This makes collaboration extremely difficult.
Competitive versus cooperative differences – some people feel the need to compete and compare constantly, while others seek to cooperate and work together, rather than against each other. It’s very difficult to work with people who are condescending, petty, posturing, and aggressive.
Handling personality clashes
The good news is that while workplace conflicts are unavoidable, there are ways to minimize them.
Some things to keep in mind:
•Your way is not always the right way, and your personality is not necessarily the “normal” one.
•Except that, people have different perspectives. All are valid.
•Different personalities, if handled correctly, can strengthen a team by contributing different ideas and solutions.
•When personality conflicts have reached the point where they interfere with the ability to work, it’s necessary to deal with them.
Acceptance – sometimes all that’s necessary to defuse a personality conflict is a little bit of kindness and understanding. When we’re able to accept personality differences, it often defuses defensiveness and friction.
Stay professional – conduct yourself in a professional manner. Be calm and courteous during interactions. Even when personality differences exist, if both parties remain professional, confrontation can be avoided. It’s not necessary for coworkers to like each other to work together effectively. Remain professional and don’t take it personally.
Personality conflicts can be one of the biggest challenges in the workplace. Conflicts can usually be diffused by acceptance, understanding, appropriate action, and professionalism. It’s imperative to remember that while you cannot control the behaviour of other people, you can control how you react to it.