In a perfect world, every workplace would be filled with only great, hard-working people that get along every minute of every day. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the way things go. Workplaces are filled with all kinds of different personalities, and while most of them are great, you can’t get along with everyone all the time. There are, however, ways to work around that.

Here are the 8 most commonly difficult personalities you’ll find in your workplace and how you can work with them.

8 difficult work personalities office gossip

The Office Gossip

Let’s start out with one that’s relatively easy to spot. The Gossip likes to be up to date on everything in the office, so it won’t take long for you to identify this person. They will buddy up next to you and want to know everything about you. They tend to be friendly social butterflies, but soon, they’ll be sharing the details of everyone’s private lives throughout the office. There are many reasons why an Office Gossip does this; it could be their way of diverting attention from themselves, it could be for entertainment’s sake, or it could just be that they’re not very good at keeping things to themselves. Whatever their reasoning, these people are never too far away. There may even be several within your workplace.

How to work with them:

Just stay out of it. Don’t entertain the gossip when they are looking for an ear to listen, don’t share anything you’ve heard, and don’t give them any information you don’t want getting out to the whole office. Just steer clear and play it safe.

The Quiet Guy or Gal 

In contrast to the Office Gossip, this personality is not the oversharing type. Neither are they a particularly challenging one to deal with, but they can be confusing to some. This person may seem distant, withdrawn, or even snobby, when in reality, they are simply not social butterflies. They prefer their peace and quiet while they work to complete their tasks.

How to work with them:

First and foremost, do not take their lack of interest in socializing personally. It’s just not their style. Instead, be friendly, but give them space. They will choose when they want to communicate their thoughts and feelings with you. If you’d like to build a relationship with this person, take some time to get to know them. It may take longer than your typical extrovert, but your patience will be appreciated and rewarded with a hardworking, quality teammate.

The Seriously Stressed Out

No matter how much or how little work this person has on their plate, they always seem to be inches from tearing their hair out. Every time you pass their desk, they are in a tizzy about some project or another, and if you happen to engage them in conversation, get ready to hear all about what’s weighing them down. From their personal life to office work, this person always has something stressing them out. This not only makes working with them a stressful experience, it also makes them unreliable. These people have a tendency to be forgetful, while their feelings of being overwhelmed lead them to cut corners on the tasks they do remember to complete.

How to work with them:

No matter what they’re stressing about, do not let it rub off on you. Your stress and frustration will only add to the situation. If you are scheduled to work in close collaboration with this person, break down the work into manageable steps that won’t overwhelm your co-worker. Start small and move together from there. It will keep them on track and stop them from falling into a stress spiral.

control freak office personality

The Control Freak

This person can be highly valuable to a company with their close attention to detail. However, if not kept in check, they can also be incredibly frustrating to the people around them. Control freaks can be nit picky and critical of others who do not do things their way. They feel the constant need to be in control of situations, causing them to overstep boundaries in an attempt to gain control. Their perfectionist tendencies cause them to have impossibly high standards for their co-workers and teammates.

How to work with them

First, do not take their controlling tendencies to heart. It has less to do with how competent you are and more to do with their comfort level. To make things easier for yourself, try giving them clear, detailed reports and updates on projects. Avoid any ambiguity that may cause them to feel the need to tighten the reigns and get over involved. Also, if and when possible, let go of control on projects that don’t mean as much to you. It might make your life easier and may mean more to them to have the control.

The Permanently Paranoid

This personality can be somewhat frustrating in the workplace. Their paranoia can manifest itself in many ways, whether it’s through questioning motives of their coworkers, fearing for the outcome of projects, or feeling like they are constantly on the verge of being fired. These people tend to be negative by nature and can make every project feel like a hassle.

How to work with them:

Choose your words carefully. You never know what could be spun differently in their head. Offer fact-based explanations of projects, people, and changes happening around the office to reassure them that nothing is going on behind the scenes. Above all, do not let this worry wart suck you in. Chances are, they’re worrying about nothing. Don’t let their concerns shake your confidence.

paranoid office personality

The Blame Shifter

These people are always the first to point the finger at someone else when something goes wrong. They will rarely take responsibility or apologize for their mistakes, bad decisions, or poor performance. In fact, they will likely tell their own versions of the truth in an attempt to convince others of their perspective. This person can be tough to work with, and if not handled carefully, can cause unnecessary strife in your workplace.

How to work with them:

Getting the Blame Shifter to see their part in negative situations will prove more difficult than protecting yourself from their accusations.  Whenever beginning a project with this person, make an effort to clearly discuss the details of the project, for example, who is responsible for what, what the deliverables are, and when they are due. That way, it is evident when they are slacking. If a situation does arise that you were involved in, the fastest way to disarm the Blamer Shifter is by taking responsibility for your mistakes before they have the opportunity to use them against you.  Most of your coworkers will respect your ability to acknowledge your shortcomings, and the Blamer Shifter will be all out of ammo.

The Narcissist

The Narcissist is an especially challenging and frustrating workplace personality. They may be arrogant, carry a sense of entitlement, and put their own contributions and ideas above everyone else’s, regardless of their actual efforts or value. These people tend to create polarizing opinions within their colleagues. However, these people can also be charismatic, causing many to enjoy their social presence. The Narcissist’s inflated self-view can make it hard for anyone to do their jobs well or get noticed for the work they have done.

How to work with them:

As frustrating as it may be, flattery is key with these personalities. Praise them when they deserve praise and give positive feedback before criticism. When trying to get work done, express to them how team efforts can work to their benefit. Narcissists are self-driven and motivated by their personal goals. They can be quality teammates when they believe it is in their best interests. No matter what you choose to do, be realistic about what to expect from this person. Do not try to change them, force them to see their errors, or expect something different from them just because they rub you the wrong way. Accept the reality and work accordingly.

8 difficult work personalities

The Backstabber

This person is one of the hardest to spot. In fact, you may not know you have a Backstabber on your hands until they’ve already tried to make a move against you. These people seem as friendly as anyone else in the office. You may work well together for a while, and they may show interest in getting to know you, but the next thing you know, they’re taking credit for your work, complaining to your manager and leaving a trail of aggravated teammates in their wake.

How to work with them:

Your number one defense against the Backstabber is to avoid reciprocating their passive-aggressive behaviour. Once you get involved in this toxic work process, it can be hard to untangle yourself. if possible, confront issues with them face to face to get it sorted out. Stand up for yourself when they try to undermine you, but be prepared to pick your battles. Letting them win every now and again will allow them to feel that you are not a threat. If they feel you are resistant to their direction or goals, they may decide something must be done about your trouble behaviour.

 There will always be difficult people in every workplace setting. However, the majority of the people you will encounter are as honest and responsible as you are. As long as you’re learn to navigate these challenging personalities and their toxic work habits, you will enjoy a pleasant career with fantastic teammates by your side.