In the world of office dynamics, you have to work with a wide variety of folks. Most are wonderful to work with, but there are a few who can absolutely hurt your career. They are the land mines you should try to avoid as much as you can. However, there are times when they are unavoidable. So today we'll discuss how to work with them without causing your career harm.
Everyone knows that gossiping is childish, and yet even as grown adults, we all like a juicy story about someone we know. At work, this can spiral downward, however. It hurts morale and people become less trusting of one another when office-place turns into a rumor-mill.
Knowing this, do what you can to avoid getting caught up in gossip about others and always present yourself as skeptical of rumors that reach your ears. Discourage the spread of false accusations. Additionally, be careful about what you say around the person(s) who start the gossip. Even when you say something benign, you never know how it will be interpreted by this person or how it will be presented to others.
This person spends most of their day watching and listening to others and waiting for them to slip up. Then they take this to their superiors with the hope that by bringing you and your co-workers down, he or she will be propelled up in their career.
Obviously, the easiest way to avoid getting hurt by The Spy is to always do good work and treat your co-workers and customers with respect. Understand that if they are a good spy, you may never realize what's happening until it's too late. So, it's best to act as though you're being watched, even when you think you're alone or with someone you can trust.
If you discover who The Spy is, avoid them at all cost. They only have their best interests in mind.
"The Glory Hog"
This person can be extremely annoying, especially if it happens to be your supervisor. You have all these great ideas or do all the fantastic work that upper management is raving about, but they take all the credit.
The best way to handle these individuals is to circumvent their ability to take credit by mentioning your idea to them and their superiors at the same time. If you don't feel you can be this forward, you'll have to bide your time and give them enough rope to hurt themselves. Eventually, they will get found out for who they are when they're placed in a position or given a project outside their abilities.
The Downer is the person on your team who always gives you a sad story, complains about something at work, tells you all their problems or ailments, etc. You know who I'm talking about...he or she is the one who, when you ask how they are, will give you a long story about everything bad happening to them. It's a sad fact, but you're not going to fix The Downer's attitude or outlook. Even worse, these folks have the natural talent of dragging you down with them. A conversation with them will make you feel drained and a little less cheery than before you entered into it.
When you work with this person, it's best to make sure you stay on topic and be as upbeat and positive as you can. Hopefully, your attitude will rub off on them. Whatever you do, try to prevent them from starting to get negative, otherwise you'll be trapped in their negativity with them. If you have a close relationship with this person, try to broach seeking some help if things feel like they are getting significantly worse.
Sometimes, in order for you to get your work done, you have to hold the distractions to a minimum. But there's always someone on the team who is wants to have a lengthy conversation with everyone in the office. Many times, it's a nice distraction, but not today!
Some suggest that you should avoid eye contact. This keeps them from engaging with you. But that comes across as rude at a certain point. The alternative is that when you have a pending deadline to get something important done, cut these people off at the pass. Tell them that you're working on something and can't be interrupted. Give them a block of time when you are working and when you'll be done so you can catch up with them.
When you're clear on what you're expectations are and why you are limiting time with them, they'll understand and usually will leave you alone.
The ironic part of people who suck up to the boss is that the boss generally doesn't appreciate it. It's one thing to be complimentary and use some flattery once in a while, but doing it all the time comes across as disingenuous. Pretty soon, what they thought was helping their career ends up hurting them.
You should avoid being too close to the Brown-Noser because people start associating you with them and pretty soon, you two are one in the same.
"Doctor Do Little"
There was time in school when I was in a group which was working on a presentation. It was on a complicated topic and was consuming a lot of our time. Even though it was frustrating, it had to be done. Then one day, one person in the group just stopped showing up.
At first we didn't know what to make of it. But eventually, we assumed that she wasn't going to contribute. So, the rest of us divided her part of the presentation among the remaining three of us. What bothered us the most was that she was getting graded the same as those of us who put in the effort.
This isn't how these individuals always work, sometimes they are just relying on the team to pick up the slack to their under-performance. Why are they under-performing? There's always a reason. They take all their sick days - whether they are sick or not. They act overwhelmed to what's a small issue to others.
The moral is that if you have any say in who is in your group or team, make sure you don't have someone like this, otherwise you may end up doing his or her work.
Hopefully you don't find yourself reading this and discovering you are one of these characters. However, if you do find that people are avoiding you, be open to changing. You're doing yourself no favors by making your co-workers not want to work with you.
Obviously, you can't actually avoid people at work, but you can learn to work around them with less danger to yourself. Good luck!
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