by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Co-workers come in all sizes and shapes — each an individual, with specific traits and quirks. Yet, when we examine the workplace as a whole, most people can be placed in one of several categories.
Here is one categorization of co-workers:
The Friend. This person truly values the relationships with co-workers, interacting with others as trusted colleagues. While these co-workers can be extremely helpful to others — and are truly a joy to work with — you do sometimes need to be careful about the line between office life and personal life blurring too much. In the worst of situations, the friend can become the sexual harasser.
The Competitor. This person views every co-worker as a rival — for perks, promotions, and face time with the boss. While some amount of competition improves the level of work accomplished, the competitor can take things too far, always looking to best others, sometimes to the point of sabotage and back-stabbing to get ahead.
The Loudmouth. This person can certainly be well-meaning, but will stop at nothing to be heard. Some of the folks are non-stop talkers — what some refer to as chatterboxes — while others are interrupters — always feeling a need to interject their opinions into conversations.
The Gossip. This person has a need to not only know everyone else’s personal business, but also to spread that information throughout the office. The gossip eavesdrops on people’s conversations, peeks at what’s on people’s desks and computer screens, and then spreads rumors to anyone who will listen.
The Egomaniac. This person thinks very highly of himself — and wants to make sure everyone knows just how good and important he is. The egomaniac thrives on getting his way — sometimes to the point of being the office bully — while taking a “know-it-all” attitude. Worst case is when this person is the boss.
The Prankster. This person serves as the office court jester, planning and enacting practical jokes and pranks. Often with good intentions of breaking the tension or diminishing negative vibes, the prankster can take the jokes too far, hurting and belittling co-workers.
The Victim. This person perceives just about every situation as one that will somehow have negative consequences. Also referred to as the whiner or complainer, this person always has a dark cloud over his or her head — preferring to be helpless to make changes to improve the situation.
The Procrastinator. This person over-promises and never delivers. Whether over-worked or simply incompetent, the procrastinator tends to wait until the last minute to get work completed, often missing deadlines — though usually with an apology and an excuse of being overworked.
The Mimic. This person either has no real personality or is afraid to show it, preferring to simply repeat what others (especially the boss) say. When this person does speak, the words are often so full of jargon and cliches that no one knows for sure the exact meaning of what was said.
The Critic. This person loves to shoot down other people’s ideas and plans. While the critic can play a vital role in questioning the status quo (and fighting group-think), too often this person is quick to judge but slow to offer any new ideas or initiatives.
Wondering which type of co-worker you are? Take the Workplace Relationships Quiz: What Kind of Co-Worker Are You? A Quintessential Careers Quiz.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.