5 People to Look Out For in The Workplace

by Kelly Long on February 2, 2010

Work life is interesting to say the least.  Full of interesting people that by in large consume a huge amount of your time – for some, it’s an extended family of sorts.

While I haven’t been a “professional” for a super extended period of time, I have witnessed a variety of personalities thus far.  They should have had a class in college on what to do about these characters … it would have been helpful!  I’m no “Professor of Workplace Personalities,” but hopefully these few tips will help those of you entering the workforce for the first time.

So, let’s get right to it!

The Secret Egotist (AKA The suck-up)

Let’s first look at the definition of “Egotist” shall we?

“An egotist is an arrogant or conceited person, always talking about himself: She’s a real egotist, always on about what she has done or is planning to do.”

You know these people right? They are typically pretty easy to spot.  However, an even trickier level of the Egotist exists … The Secret Egotist.

This person will initially friend you, quite enthusiastically.  They easily slide into your good graces by offering help and advice in the workplace.  They appear to be selfless and humble, but when close attention is paid you notice the small, repeated comments they make that feed their need to suck up and recognize their secret ego.  These are comments that feed their ego so subtly you may not even recognize their bragging.

You need to be careful of this person because you will immediately feel as if you can trust them and that their interest in you is altruistic.  It’s not!  This is the person that might take you out for drinks when you’ve had a bad day and pick your brain for ideas … later presenting and taking credit for them as their own.

I promise – you’ve met this person.  The question becomes … have you been able to recognize them? 😉

The Gossip (AKA “Loves the water cooler”)

Careful when you meet this one; they can easily entice you!

This person prides them self on being the unofficial eyes and ears of the office.  Who’s sleeping with who, why John Doe got into trouble and the low down on the new girl.  Office gossip can easily turn into supermarket tabloid material and it’s hard to turn your head.


Stay away from this person.  Not only will you most likely be thrown into the cross hairs of office drama this way, but also if you work in HR you are putting your job at risk.  Because HR is such a confidential department, any sign you are unable to keep confidentiality can hurt your position.

Besides, if you work in HR, chances are you already KNOW all the good gossip. 😉 So save yourself the hassle and the potential for losing your job and keep it to yourself.

The Opinionator (AKA The Know-it-all)

Have you ever known someone, that no matter what topic the conversation is about, they not only have an opinion, but are the only person whose opinion counts?

It’s pretty frustrating!

Save yourself some stress and hassle … try to steer clear of this one.  They will only exhaust you!  Each conversation has the potential to turn into a debate and most of them end with recognition by YOU that no matter what is said, they still know it all.

In fact, the conversations usually end with “You’re right, Sam … Gotta go!”

The Complainer (AKA Debbie Downer)

This person stinks!

Not literally, but it’s never fun to be around someone who can suck the joy from a room.  This person finds doom and gloom in every task, every situation, every smile.

Instead of bucking up and getting the job done, they do it whilst complaining.  Don’t you want that person to just shut up?

Being surrounded by constant negativity can start to wear on you and your attitude in the workplace.  You may start to misplace this irritation or anger on other people; not something you want to do.

Stay away from Negative Nancy!

The Slacker (AKA “I’ll do it tomorrow”)

There are a couple things that could happen with this person.

First, you can’t complete your part of a project until they complete theirs.  So you wait, impatiently, and end up submitting your project late.  Despite the fact it was their fault, you’re the one taking ownership and blame for tardiness.

The second is that you’re working on a team assignment … except you’re not really functioning as a team.  Instead, you’re doing all the work.  And you both get credit.

Don’t deny it.  Your inner brain is screaming “UNFAIR!” Hold the slacker accountable!

Anyone else you should avoid in the workplace?

Share your fun stories!  We can all learn from them I’m sure. 😉

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Long (The Red Recruiter) February 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Good list Kelly! I think that we should all be aware of these characters in the workplace… but, further, we should all keep in mind when we are starting to fall in to one of the above mentioned categories. Someone once told me that we despise that which we resemble the most 😉

Great job!

Beth McDonald February 2, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Loving this list, Kelly! I know I’ve certainly worked with my share of these folks … Hopefully I’ll steer clear of becoming one of them (as Michael mentioned).

Thanks for the great post!

Shennee February 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm

This is a must have List for Professionals everywhere!

Alicia Arenas (@AliciaSanera) February 3, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Love this! I can’t decide which one frustrates me the most, the Know-It-All or Debbie Downer. Decisions, decisions… :-)

Deborah February 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

Ahhhh…. and Alicia reminds us of yet another annoying office character… Hesitant Hank! He’s so afraid of making the wrong decision that he lets time pass until someone else makes it (and then can be blamed if it doesn’t work out.)

GL Hoffman March 11, 2010 at 9:42 am

How about WannaBe Wanda. She (or he) is the one who always wants to start their own business, and is constantly telling you their dreams (fantasies) about why and what they will do, when EVERYONE knows it will neverever happen because of TONS of reasons.
I love your list.

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