Different Types of Colleagues and Interacting With Them

I’ve read a couple stats saying up to half of U.S. workers will seek new jobs in 2020. Half! Are you one of them, too? In changing companies, you’ll meet new people and interact with different personalities. We’ve all read how to deal with difficult co-workers, especially as it relates to conflict, so I won’t go there. But, there are a variety of other personality types you’ll interact with.

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The Newbie

Who they are: They’re new to the company. Sometimes they’re a seasoned veteran with years of functional and/or industry experience. Other times, they’re straight out of college jumping into their early career.

Interacting with them: Be more than that person who shows them where the bathroom is and leaves it at that. Show them around. Do introductions. Support them during their on-boarding. They’ll be grateful for your help. Who knows, it may also help you down the road as they rise in the ranks.

The Buddies

Who they are: If you hang out after work and use each other as sounding boards, you’re buddies. This can occur between just two people or a handful. You enjoy each other’s company and look forward to your time together.

Interacting with them: Build a good relationship and don’t be afraid to be open with them. They’re probably experiencing the same issues as you. They not only listen, but make the day in the office that much better.

The Old-Timer

Who they are: They’ve been around for a long, long time and know more about the inner workings and who’s who of the company than most. They also have a tendency to remind you how long they’ve been around and sometimes struggle with letting go of the past.

Interacting with them: Build rapport with this person. Ask them about the company’s history or maybe previous projects that have contributed to the company’s success. They can be a great asset.

The Funny-Guy

Who they are: When things get tense, they crack a joke. They avoid conflict and use a sense of humor to keep things “light” around the office. Sometimes, however, their jokes may be offensive to some.

Interacting with them: They’re good to have on your team because at some point, issues will pop up and a little comedy can help break the tension. Don’t let comedy get in the way of a serious decision, though. Also, make sure their jokes stay appropriate and confront them if they don’t.

The Nosy-Nelly

Who they are: They want to know what’s going on around the office and then will spread information, right or wrong, faster than you can say “Holy shit, we only talked about that 5 minutes ago!! How do people know already?”

Interacting with them: First, if you have information that should remain confidential (can be work-related or personal), don’t share it. If this person comes to you looking for information, keep tight lipped. Don’t feed them anything that can be spread around the office. If they do start spreading misinformation, don’t be shy about talking to them about it.

The Get’r Done Guy or Gal:

Who they are: They are usually assigned to critical projects and remain calm if, and usually when, issues crop up. Management will call on them in times of chaos, when things need to be done fast and correct. Their focus is on results!

Interacting with them: Sometimes their focus to get things done can come across as rude. When interacting with them, sometimes it’s best to focus on tasks and results first; try to make a little small interpersonal talk later. If you’re looking for a mentor, ask if you can work with and learn from them. If you become a high performer also, you may be the next Get’r Done Guy or Gal.

The Lazy-Ass

Who they are: They look busy all the time, but in reality they’re checking social media or updating a PowerPoint deck for the 72nd time. When assigned a task, they find a way to have someone else do it for them. They’re also really good at taking credit for the work of others.

Interacting with them: If you don’t work directly with this person, ignore them. If you do, take note of what they actually do and when they deflect responsibility and work onto others. If the lazy-ass is on your team or you’re their manager, make sure they have measurable goals.

The Complainer

Who they are: They piss and moan about everything, in good times and in bad, and suck the life out of any conversation. They complain about your team members, which also begs the question of what they say about you when you’re not around!

Interacting with them: Avoid them like the plague! They’re negativity can rub off. If you have to deal with them because they’re a boss or on your team, try to understand the source of their negativity and correct it. If they’re on your team and the complaining can’t be stopped, you may need to consider replacing them before they cause irreparable damage.

The Bully

Who they are: This person never grew up after high school. They can be verbally nasty, intimidating, retaliatory, and will find ways to sabotage and then blame you for it. This is a pattern that can be repeated over and over.

Interacting with them: First, document bullying events, note who else was there and save any physical or electronic evidence to show HR later. If you’re comfortable, confront the bully with a trusted witness. Report instances of bullying to HR and/or supervisors. At the end of the day, this person can cause you a LOT of mental and emotional angst, so tackle this ASAP!

The Mentor/Coach

Who they are: These people can help you grow in your career. They want to help you be successful by sharing experience, knowledge and being a source to go to when you have questions or need assistance. Mentors/coaches offer a consultative and broader perspective.

Interacting with them: Meet regularly, listen and be open to their advice (even if you don’t like constructive criticism). Word to the wise; find more than one mentor/coach in your career. You’ll learn something new from each.

The Workout Person (full disclosure; this includes me!)

Who they are: They come rolling into work chipper, with their coffee or plant-based nutrient drink ready for the day. They’ve probably already run 10 miles and/or biked 25 this morning, so they may be a little slow getting up sometimes. They’re also driven to get things done and understand when to go a marathon pace and when to sprint.

Interacting with them: They’re mentally resilient and want to get to the finish line of the project they’re working on, so may come across as pushy sometimes. Only take them to lunch at places that have healthy food on the menu and unless you’re ready for a long conversation about exercise, don’t ask them about their next race!

Too Much Mt. Dew/Caffeine!!

Who they are: They’re wired for speed. They talk fast and move fast. They want to get things done, fast. They’re great to have on your fast-moving team when things need to get done, fast.

Interacting with them: If you have kids, sometimes you need to take their shoulders, point them in the direction you want them to go, and say “This way!” Same for these people. They work hard and fast, but may need to be reminded of the direction and tasks they’re supposed to do from time to time. If you need them to do something, bring them a Mt. Dew. It’ll get done, fast!

If you’re on the hunt for a new job in 2020, I wish you luck and hope you’re successful.

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