Your place of employment can sometimes feel like a battlefield. You may have certain coworkers you strictly avoid, while others you pair up with at the first opportunity. Then, there are coworkers that fall somewhere in the middle: they may seem friendly, when really they are your enemies. Watch out for these people, as they can be bad news for your personal and professional life.
Here are six common types of workplace personalities that may wreak havoc for you, if you aren’t careful – as well as how to deal with them.
Ambitious Arnold can seem like your greatest fan at first – then he slowly begins to cross the line into a frenemy. Arnold is that coworker who constantly says how much he admires your work, while secretly making plans to take your position or become your higher-up. He is ambitiously trying to seal his position in the office, regardless of where that leaves you. Keep your eye on Arnold, and make sure what he says to you matches what he does. Otherwise, his cutthroat nature could mean losing your spot in the office hierarchy.
Negative Nellie in the office is the coworker who always manages to find – and almost seems to delight in – the negative aspects of everything. She often complains about hours, pay, other coworkers, bosses, the weather – anything and everything. If you try to point out the upside, Nellie surely has a way to refute you. Don’t join Nellie in her whining ways. Instead, keep your distance so your boss doesn’t associate the two of you together. Nellie can wallow in drama, crises, and sorrow while you focus on making positive changes.
Idea-Thief Ian is the frenemy who uses friendliness to get close to you, then sabotages your professional goals by stealing your idea. Ian may press you for more details about your idea or project under the guise of finding it interesting or praising your genius. Before you know it, however, your manager is pulling Ian to the front of a work meeting to applaud him for his brilliant idea – your idea. If you encounter an Ian, go straight to the source. Talk to him and see if it was just a misunderstanding. If it wasn’t, go to your supervisor with the truth.
You might have a Terry Time-Waster in your office if a coworker constantly hangs around your desk, wastes time by the water cooler, and wants to talk about everything except work. Terry might make a fun friend, but he can be a productivity enemy. Hanging out with Terry too much could reflect poorly on you as an employee – even if you’re getting your work done while Terry fools around. Allow yourself a few minutes a day to chat with Terry, but then explain that you have to focus on work.
Discrimination Debbie is one of the more harmful types of workplace frenemies you may encounter. She may talk nice to your face, then speak badly about your race or religion when you aren’t around. Or may give backhanded compliments or make “harmless” jokes about your looks, weight, age, or disability.
If you encounter this type of coworker, act. Talk to Debbie about discrimination and what’s appropriate at work. If that doesn’t work, go to Human Resources and file a complaint. You may then file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if your employer fails to reprimand Debbie or control the situation.
Harold the Harasser is more than just a frenemy. He’s a threat to you and others at work. Harold may seem friendly at first, but quickly become too friendly – or intimidating. Harold could make sexual comments or innuendos at work that make you uncomfortable, or even go as far as to touch you. If you encounter a harassing-type frenemy at work, report him or her to your manager, to HR, and/or to the EEOC. Document all interactions with Harold and gather eyewitness statements. Then, protect your rights by hiring an employment lawyer.