Managing Personalities in the Workplace | Virtual Assistant Israel How to get along with difficult coworkers

Managing Personalities in the Workplace

The workplace, whether brick-and-mortar or virtual, will be fraught with many personalities to contend with on a daily basis. This blog will focus on a few of the more challenging personalities, and some tips on how to streamline your interactions.


The One-Upping Show-Off

Stay in your lane. Do your best. Shine on your own. Keep communication with management clear and open. Document your work. Whatever you do, don’t counter this behavior by openly criticizing it, calling attention to it, or worst of all, mimicking it! Ignore = narcissistic supply shutdown.

The Underminer

Keep backups of backups and document your work like crazy. Don’t let this person give the presentation. They are likely to excise you and other team members, and might even whip out a completely different PowerPoint than the one all of you slaved over for weeks! Bring the original to the meeting!

The Gossip

Disengage immediately! Do. Not. Get. Involved. Be a part of a healthy workplace dynamic and zip it at the water cooler!

The Harasser/Abuser

Set clear boundaries and speak up. If that doesn’t work, go to management. If that doesn’t work, seek help from HR or your compliance manager. You do not need to tolerate outright toxicity.

The Condescender

Hold your own, and breathe deep. Don’t serve that peach retort.

The Lazy One

On every team, there is going to be someone who possibly won’t — or can’t — pull their weight. Help identify your teammate’s demotivation. Maybe they are not lazy at all! Maybe they are having difficulties in their department or maybe even outside of work. Maybe they just need to be given a piece of the project that really hits on their expertise or interest. Before you balk, investigate where their lackluster approach is rooted. Don’t pry too hard, but see if you can spark that fire by inviting their input in way that is meaningful to THEM.

The Wet Blanket

There is a distinct difference between an effective co-worker who is really good at identifying potential pitfalls and one who just wants to rain on every parade as a means for negative attention. Identify quickly. If the former, take their advice into account and help them by saying, “I really appreciate you identifying some of the things that could go wrong. I really respond better to more positive framing, but definitely appreciate the bottom-line insight.” If the person is just a dripping naysayer, put that wet blanket in the dryer by simply saying, thank you and minimizing engagement.

The Micromanager/Difficult Boss

This person is probably not intentionally difficult but every time you hear those feet approaching you know it’s not long before his or her hot breath is down your neck and they are peering over your shoulder (or taking control of your mouse) to make sure you do things their way. The micromanager is not a jerk. They are insecure, which breeds perfectionism. They are afraid to look bad, and want to make sure you don’t make them look bad, so they exercise authority over every detail.  They can drive you up the wall and you leave your desk every day feeling like a complete dunderhead.

Tip: Depersonalize and don’t let them MAKE you feel any kind of way (remember, only YOU can make you feel something!) Instead, ask to set up a 15-minute conference with them pre-shift to go over what you will be working on, when you will be submitting them drafts to review, and edit sessions. Explain that it’s YOU — that you work best when you can sort through a project on your own and present it to them in various draft stages until completion. This will ease anxiety for both of you.

A strong component of successful workplace interactions is to always be mindful of your own output, approach, and contributions. We can’t always choose our peers but we can choose how much stock we put into what they say and do. Remember YOU CHOOSE your reactions and feelings. We cannot lead by chasing after everyone’s idiosyncrasies all the time. If we stay humble and use a process that aims to generate excellent results, while being solution-seeking rather than complaining, it can help melt a lot of discomfort.


 Submitted by Darcie