Office ninjas are, for better or worse, the social butterflies of the office. They are typically involved with just about everybody in the office, which can mean having to navigate interactions with all sorts of people.
Difficult workplace personalities come with the territory, and while many of them can be wildly frustrating at first, learning to manage them will ultimately make you a more effective ninja and a much saner person. Here are five common workplace egos and some tactics to help manage your interactions with them.
The Fear Mongerer
These people are the loose cannons of the office. They are often unpredictable and react quickly and harshly. What’s worse is they usually feel more empowered when people are actively terrified of them. If these types are in a position of power (and they usually are), it can be even harder to navigate interactions because you may feel like your job is at stake if you displease them.
Under no circumstances should you react in kind to this personality as it will likely just aggravate them further. Remain respectful and calm at all costs. A simple smile and nod can work wonders on these folks. If you feel comfortable confronting the fear mongerer, try politely telling them that it’s hard for you to have a conversation when you feel like you are being attacked or bullied. Hopefully interactions going forward will be less volatile and more mutually respectful.
The Debbie/Donnie Downer
These folks are never happy with anything. They tend to have strong, close-minded opinions, and typically refuse to explore solutions to their problems. Everything is wrong, nothing can be fixed, WOE IS THEM. This type tends to have stubborn, know-it-all tendencies, and is usually unreceptive to anything new and/or suggestions that might improve their situation.
Put on your inquisitive toddler hat and ask “why” every time this type shuts down a suggestion. Try to get to the crux of why this person refuses to consider possible solutions to issues. Being overly positive and helpful to these types may be a good way to combat their tenacious pessimism.
The Double Crosser
This type is arguably one of the hardest to interact with and manage. They typically march to the beat of their own agenda and don’t care who they have to manipulate to get their way. At first you might think this is a person in whom you can confide. However, their conniving intentions usually become quickly apparent when something you told them in confidence (or after a few drinks at a happy hour) is used against you.
Out of all the types, this type is the easiest to call out. They probably won’t see it coming, since they think they have forged an alliance with you. Revealing that you are aware of this type’s tendencies will usually be enough to keep them from double crossing you (and hopefully others) in the future.
The flake operates on their own plane of existence. They are the manic-pixie-dream-coworkers who you just want to shake by the shoulders and snap them out of whatever trance they are in. They tend to have a hard time following through on things and you may feel like you have to have the same conversation with them 1000 times.
Sometimes you actually need these people to do your job, and that can be frustrating when they are flakey. They may do well with friendly reminders and follow-ups. If not, having a real-talk conversation with them about how their behavior has directly affected your ability to do your work may be the ticket to pulling them back down to Earth.
The Black Hole
The black holes are the self-proclaimed centers of the galaxy. They have a distorted view of their own importance and tend not to listen unless you are feeding their egos. They aren’t very good at taking any criticism and typically seek to control conversations and people in order to establish their superiority in the workplace.
Just steer clear of the black hole as much as possible. You might be sucked in from time to time by their gravitational pull, but the less interaction you have with this type the better. If you do have to interact with this type, try to maintain a sense of useful neutrality. Help them, listen to them, but try not to get sucked in to any of their drama. Once you get sucked into a black hole, there’s no getting out.
What workplace egos have you encountered? How have you learned to manage them? Share your tips in the comments!