How to Handle Nightmare Colleagues

We all have that special person whose presence undermines and infuriates us, and just by drawing breath it seems they are precision engineered to make our day harder. They seemingly derive little pleasure from life other than making the people around them miserable. This maybe because they have had little opportunity to learn and practise effective communication skills, or…, they really might be cagey, nasty, manipulative so-and-sos.

Who are they?

Anger addicts, are dangerous and controlling who deal with conflict by accusing, attacking, humiliating or criticising. They inflict emotional damage by wearing down your self-esteem and refuse to be held accountable for their actions. Always take a deep breath and count to 10 before responding.

Narcissists have inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement, craving attention and requiring endless praise. Some are obnoxious egomaniacs, but others can be quite charming. Both know how to belittle you and make you serve them. Avoid the trap of always trying to please them.

The passive-aggressive, a close relative of the anger addict, but one who expresses anger with a smile or exaggerated concern, and always keep their cool – even if through clenched teeth.

Guilt-trippers are the world-class blamers and martyrs of the office. They know how to make you feel terrible about something by pressing your insecurity buttons. They use it to manipulate you into doing what they desire. You made a mistake, so what? If the guilt-tripper gives you heaps, simply apologise or take responsibility… that should shut them right up.

The Office Gossip longs to capture your attention with insider information so that you like them…best advice, get on with your job and don’t give a shit. You will generally find that if they can’t provoke a reaction, they will lose interest in you.

What else can you do?

Make friends with them

The hypocritical option, requiring you to swallow all animosity and be best buddies, even though you know they are nicking your Nutty Bars from the office fridge. Massage their ego by asking their advice on important issues, or lunch choices. Grab a livener together after work, or go paintballing so you can shoot the crap out of each other under controlled supervision.

These characters are like people who eat and talk at the same time: it’s better to have them at your side, rather than straight in front of you. Just remember, there’s a good chance that if you have a nightmare colleague, you’re probably their nightmare colleague too.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down

If your problems are intractable, and no one is going to resign because you all have mortgages to pay, then just dig in and go for the long game. If your nemesis insists on conducting hour-long virtual meetings at their desk every other day, set up two-hour online conferences, every day, without headphones, also at their desk. If the baddie in HR sends the wrong form down again, send back a jiffy bag full of cooked pasta (al dente). Hide Harry’s favourite Parker 51, he so deserves it.

This option is the most entertaining for your co-workers, and your adversary maybe the cause of all this hostility, but guess who will wind up looking like the jerk at the tribunal?

Be a Superhero

Now we’re talking. All real champions (by real, we mean fictional) have an arch rival. Plotting ways to dish out divine retribution will make your daily workplace struggle a secret saga of heroic overcoming. The weasel that hovers, waiting for you to slip up, Poison Ivy who reschedules meetings at inconvenient times because she wants you to feel overwhelmed and shed a tear… you will not succumb! Screw those stinking scoundrels!

Your boss is not one of these characters if she or he is routinely being an ass to everyone else you know, and barely knows your name. These blaggards must be personal, bonded to you alone, like an evil step parent, they are solely engaged for your overthrow and destruction.

Don’t allow another person to rob you of one minute of your enjoyment of life. Don’t be afraid to say `no’, it’s better in the long run, simply become assertive. Have you done assertiveness training? … Is that a ‘no’ I hear from the back?


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