Within an office environment, it is inevitable that you will come into contact with a melting pot of characters and personalities. While some characteristics are a godsend, other personality traits can be challenging to deal with.

Here are some ways you can deal with 3 common difficult types of colleagues:

The Aggressor
This personality tends to be hostile, intimidating, critical, judgemental and sometimes abusive. He demonstrates an intensity that helps him quickly and effectively accomplish his tasks. In his eyes, there is only one way to get the job done: his way. If you attempt to challenge or cross him, he will charge at you like an angry bull.

How to deal with Aggressors:
Remain calm and avoid taking his rudeness to heart. Let him express his anger and frustration before you approach him in a manner that is neither confrontational nor threatening. Maintain control in the situation when you address him by name and state your position clearly. Avoid the temptation to match his nasty behaviour and argue back.


The ‘Expert’

Often the academic at school or high-flyer, this know-it-all personality is overbearing and acts superior. He is often arrogant, impatient and self-reliant because he is touted as the most knowledgeable in the field (although this may not even be the case). He has little tolerance for people he thinks are less worthy than he is, and becomes exasperated quickly when another person does not understand him.

How to deal with ‘Experts’:
Before you deal with him, make sure you do your homework and get the facts right. When speaking to him, paraphrase what he has just said to show your understanding. Avoid directly challenging his facts or interpretation of the facts but instead, pose a question that can open his thinking. Overall, the key is to be respectful but firm when speaking to the office know-it-all.


The Backstabber

This two-faced person will go to any extent to rise up the professional ladder. She may display saccharine sweet behaviour towards you, but that is only to mask her true intentions. She belittles your work and ideas, but behind your back, she quietly passes off your ideas as her own to the upper management. She is good at gaining the bosses’ trust and may go to the extent of spreading malicious rumours about you – just to keep the competition (you) at bay.

How to deal with Backstabbers:
Keep your cool but let her know you do not appreciate being thrown under the bus. After that, try to maintain a distance by keeping your interaction with this person strictly professional. Do not reveal anything about your personal life to her, otherwise you are just providing her with material to gossip about you. If you are called in by the bosses with false accusations, state your case and stand firm by your decision.


It is essential that you negotiate your way to professional success while still keeping your sanity and wellbeing intact. One of the first steps to accomplish that is to understand how you can effectively handle difficult co-workers.

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