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Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

Do your coworkers drive you crazy? Listen, you’re not alone. Every workplace has them: coworkers with the unique ability to make your job both more frustrating and entertaining at the same time. These are the cubicle-mates who so perfectly embody workplace clichés that they practically beg to be immortalized on the silver screen. There are the coworkers you should get to know and then there are those that you need to learn how to deal with.

The Overachiever
The Overachiever will always want to one-up you. Anything you do she will want to do bigger, better, and quicker. But behind that perfect facade is often someone who is seriously lacking in self-confidence. Blow the Overachiever out of the water by staying calm and confident. She’ll be mystified by your positive vibes and the satisfaction that you derive from your work. Your happiness and success just might keep her up a night or two—a welcome payback for the many times she’s tried to trump you in front of the boss.

The Slacker
Sneaky and slippery, Slackers are infinitely smarter than they look. In fact, their workplace goal is often to ply you into doing all or part of their job for them. How do they do this? By acting dumb, ill-informed, or just plain lazy. Make them take responsibility for their performance and their actions. If necessary, allow them to fall flat on their face in front of the boss in order to prove both their incompetency and your unwillingness to cover for them anymore.

The Kiss-Up
The Kiss-Up uses compliments, praise, and lots of saccharine sweetness to get noticed by the bosses and move ahead of her coworkers. The Kiss-Up is hard to combat because she can make even the nicest person look a little lackluster. Thwart her by striving to forge real relationships with your boss and coworkers so that you can give honest opinions that are respected—whether or not they’re accepted.

The Creepy Weirdo
The key to engaging with the Weirdo is to keep your interactions brief. Ask direct questions and require succinct answers. Communicate in group meetings or over email whenever you can (it keeps things less personal). When the conversation starts to drift to the dark side, wrap it up. If you engage, he’ll feel like he has a friend in you and will be more likely to approach again and again with his endless stories of his Dungeons & Dragons escapades. Remember, if you ever feel like the Creepy Weirdo at work isn’t so harmless, make sure to tell your boss or file a formal complaint.

The Drama Queen
She thrives on overreacting to even the most minor of occurrences and constantly demands attention from everyone in the office. The Drama Queen is prone to exaggeration, so take everything she says with a grain of salt. Before you respond to her issues or complaints, do some fact-checking and get the real story. Above all, don’t encourage her. The Drama Queen likely has issues staying focused, so being super low-key will force her to stay at her desk and do her job.

By Anne Zimmerman of Nicole Williams