How to Deal with Your Idiot Co-workers: Page 2

Posted February 2, 2007

Eric Spiegel

Eric Spiegel

(Page 2 of 2)

3. Gossipers – Everyone loves a good rumor. That’s why tabloids sell at the grocery check-out line. Same thing applies to the office. Typical rumor ammunition would be office romances, someone quitting, layoffs, etc. I’m no psychologist, but I’m guessing it makes us feel important to be the first to share a juicy tidbit. These creatures are similar to Time-Killers, except they can do much more damage by hurting reputations, or worse, causing someone to lose their job.

Do not enable Gossipers by giving them your time or being influenced to spread rumors yourself. Ask them how they would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. Or you can be rude and ignore them (I’m not kidding).

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4. Blamers – It takes a mature person to take the blame when they make a mistake. If your work culture is not tolerant of risk taking, this may create a more fertile environment for Blamers. Even the most forthright person can be tempted to push blame elsewhere to protect themselves. But a Blamer is someone who constantly sheds responsibility.

Whatever their motivation, you need to protect yourself as well. If you work with a Blamer, make the extra effort to document all your interactions. Keep a CYA email folder to track all correspondence on shared projects. This way you can let the facts speak for themselves. This may seem a bit paranoid, but Blamers justify these tactics.

5. Braggers – There are certainly a variety of less flattering terms for a Bragger. I hope my kids will read my articles some day, so we’ll stay out of the gutter. A Bragger is someone who excessively boosts about what a wonderful worker they are to management, without giving credit to their coworkers. This can cause resentment and friction on the team, especially when done at team meetings or through shared emails.

Tooting your own horn isn’t all bad to bring attention to your contributions. You should do so to balance how the Bragger is influencing your manager. Be careful not to join the Bragger club, by keeping your boosting just between you and your manager – and giving others their due credit. It never hurts to follow up with a question about how you can improve even more next time. Managers eat that stuff up.

Some people would rather let bad behavior go on without opening their mouths for fear of conflict. I completely understand keeping peace in the office might be better than telling a Time-Killer you are always busy or a Gossiper that their antics are not polite. You have to decide what threshold of pain you can take and how negatively they impact your job. Ultimately it is up to management to deal with team members impacting the bottom line.

So move that guest chair into the hall and put your earpiece in so you can work in peace.

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