In the mythical worlds of all cultures, there are monsters of various kinds who prey on the weaknesses of humans, manipulate them or cause chaos in their lives.

Unfortunately, these monsters have their counterparts in the real world too — you are likely to know people in your workplace who have similar characteristics.

Unchecked, they bully, manipulate and make trouble for those around them.

These “workplace monsters” may not necessarily be bad people.

However, their demeanour and behaviour may fill you with a sense of dread, which may affect your own competency and proficiency at work.

There are two things to keep in mind when dealing with these difficult colleagues.

First, identify the type of “monster” you are dealing with.

Second, know what you have to do to keep them in their place.

Here are some of the more “dangerous” workplace monsters: 

Emotional vampires

In folklore, vampires are blood suckers who eventually drain their victims of life.

In the workplace, there are people who prey on your feelings of vulnerability and self-doubt, and make you lose confidence in your abilities. These are the emotional vampires.

You can identify emotional vampires from the way they converse with you.

For instance, after you have made an excellent presentation, the emotional vampire will try to devalue your achievement — perhaps with a sarcastic remark — or make an overt effort to find a fault in the way you did your work.

The emotional vampire’s intent is primarily to make you feel inadequate and useless.

Corporate werewolves

These are opportunistic people who like taking credit for your hard work.

They wait for the opportune moment when you have exhausted all your energy, to jump into the picture and imply that they have been assisting you all along.

You may be too stunned or inhibited (that is what the werewolves are counting on!) to inform your boss that it was your hard work and not theirs. 

3 Office spirit or ghost

These are people who have an uncanny ability to appear when the work has been completed, and disappear when they are needed most.

The ghosts in your office can be disruptive because they are poor team players. They cannot be counted on to do their share of the work, and project schedules may be delayed.


In horror fiction, these creatures live in the cemetery and feed on dead flesh.

Office ghouls are people who are always reminiscing on the past and are unable to let go of old values and methods of work.

They can be frustrating to work with, and if you are not careful, they may make you second-guess your decisions because as far as they are concerned, anything new is doomed to fail.

Protocol zombies

Also known as “the walking dead”, these are people who will not do more than what is specified in their job description.

If you take the initiative and do something that will help to resolve a problem, your zombie colleague will accuse you of “spoiling market”, bad-mouth you to other zombies (“He thinks he’s the CEO”), who in turn may do what they can to stifle your professional ability.

Dealing with difficult colleagues

The good news is that there are remedies to overcome and keep the office monsters at bay.

Take charge of your career and work life — the monsters are wary of people who show strength of character.  

Be more assertive when communicating with them, and work on your self-esteem.

When you know your value and believe that you are a confident professional, you can prevail against any attacks from these negative people.

Article by Daniel Theyagu, a corporate trainer since 1989 and the author of five books, including Gravitating Towards Success. He runs Lateral Solutions Consultancy and can be contacted via or