Types Of Co-Workers In The Workplace

Every person you meet, you’ll try to put them in some kind of group, especially at your workplace. Some may be friendly and make your office a pleasant workplace, while others might turn it into a living nightmare. So, let’s talk about ten types of co-workers that will definitely ring a bell, How to deal with difficult co-workers, and other strategies to go on well with your colleagues. Stay tuned with a far-out post related to Career Advice topic.

1. The Busy One

The busy one is always so obsessed with work that she or he may skip chatting or helping you with a project. This individual is here to get their job done, which means they’re always on the go. They are continually coming up with brand new ideas and sending business emails after work. If they aren’t at the office, they are working from home. Their career is the most important thing to them.

On the bright side, hard workers are the best teammates for group projects. On the contrary, these eager beavers can be so effing annoying at times. They can bombard you with tons of emails even after work, or asking you too many questions at the office.

How to deal with Mr. Busy when he turns annoying? Well, busy coworkers are mostly too occupied with their own “enormous” workload and will not disturb you unless it’s the utmost important thing. So, not to worry, be patient as they might be just doing their job, or making you do your job. 

If you still want to avoid them, it might help to explain why you are unable to help them at this time. “I’d love to help, but I have three emails to send and a new report to prepare before lunch.” This should be enough to let you off the hook.

2. The Bullying Colleague 

Have you ever thought that you are working with a bully? Do you have a colleague that talks over you in conferences, criticizes your performance day in day out, and takes credit for your work? Suppose you answered yes to any of these questions. In that case, you’re probably one of the 60 million Americans affected by workplace bullying, according to a Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI) 2017 national survey.

The bully usually makes you feel intimidated, shocked, and upset, which turns the workplace into hell. In other words, they want to mentally or physically threaten you at work.

The Bullying Colleague
Bullies want to mentally or physically threaten you at work. Photo by Direct Media 

To deal with this type of co-worker, the best thing you can do is not to respond by any means. According to workplace abuse specialist Patricia G. Barnes, author of Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees, and Psychopaths in the Workplace, you’ve given the bully what they want if you react.

They’ll be more likely to stop if they don’t see the reaction they expect. What if the bullies don’t stop? Then, it’s time to start documenting their actions and report the case to the HRs with evidence. And what if that doesn’t work? Considering quitting your job for a new one is definitely one of the most emotionally intelligent things to do.

3. The Chatty

These folks make your life simpler when you’re a new employee. They approach you and break the ice, so you don’t have to make much effort to get acquainted with the new environment. They’re skilled at both water cooler banter and in-depth personal interactions.

They’re quite pleasant, yet they may be a little too talkative at times. Yes, it’s a norm to ask others how they’re doing in the workplace. However, for a too chatty co-worker, this “How’s it going” can lead to a never-ending monologue full of details about their latest holiday that would likely make us jealous, or bump us out. Additionally, being caught up in a conversation with these guys is likely to result in getting nothing done.

The Chatty
The chatty are quite pleasant. Photo by Gary Barnes 

In short, you are not likely to experience awkward silence with them around. Yet, you are not expected to have any moment of silence with them, like, ever.

So, what are you to do if your chatty coworker tends to get carried away? Here are three tips to avoid office chit-chat.

  • Have a catchphrase. Saying something like “I’m up to my ears right now,” if you don’t want to be disturbed at work can stop any unimportant chit-chats from happening. “I’ll get back to you on that, I have to deal with this right now.” is another useful phrase.
  • Wear headphones. If your chatty coworkers see that you are wearing headphones, they are unlikely to bother you unless it is for anything urgent. 
  • Don’t get involved in the first place. Perhaps you think you can join the conversation and make some important comments on the topic, and then swiftly leave. Well, since such chit-chat can be lengthy, we recommend not saying anything in the beginning.

4. Pessimistic Co-worker

Some employees sulk in their negativity. They may don’t like their jobs and working for their employer. These people tend to think that they constantly have terrible employers who mistreat them. From their point of view, customers might be useless and demanding, and the firm seems always in a downward spiral.

Additionally, these people know how to spread their negative power. One of their favorite expressions is likely to be “It’ll never work out.” Also, they have a follow-up “It only occurred because…” if any good things happen.

Pessimistic Co-worker
Some employees sulk in their negativity. Photo by RODNAE Productions

You might wonder if they’re just being negative or really dislike you. You might be searching “What are signs co-workers are intimidated by you?” nervously after work. Then, you are likely to find them doing the same things to everyone. 

Why these Debbie Downers behave in this way is due to a few reasons. The most significant of which could be that they feel ignored and unheard and need someone to support them emotionally.

Avoiding their presence at work is a simple way to deal with these pessimistic co-workers. However, recognizing their feelings, for example through deep conversations, can make them feel heard. That said, it does not imply that you must agree with them. If you have to deal with too much negativity at work, it might help to say, “If I were you, I would feel the same way.” Also, it might be a good idea to try to ask whether they’ve considered a potential solution to whatever they are complaining about. 

5. Optimistic Co-worker

This individual is usually enthusiastic about everything. Mornings are likely their favorite time of day since they are the “birth of another day full of endless possibilities.” Even when the ship is sinking, they constantly pull for you and try to keep your spirits up. They keep swimming, waving a flag, and yelling: YOU CAN DO IT! even after the ship has sunk.

Optimistic Co-worker
YOU CAN DO IT! – Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 

Frankly speaking, there is not much to complain about these guys since they just try to make you believe in yourself. Sometimes they can even help to lift your mood. What’s bad about them? They might someday have a fight to the death with the pessimistic ones, though. 

6. Office Comedian

These guys can be hilarious. They tend to crack many jokes, from the smoothest to the most offensive ones. We’ll call them “comedians” since that’s what they might think of themselves. They can really make the workplace more vibrant. 

Office Comedian
Office comedians can be hilarious – how to deal with difficult co-workers. Photo by RF._.studio

How to detect them? Jokers tend to laugh at everything they say. In case some of their jokes get too personal or offensive, it would be wise not to laugh. Most of the time, they will take the hint and remain the funny guy that nearly anyone would want to befriend. 

7. Honest Joker

This one is exactly like the Office Comedian, except he or she states facts within their jokes, whether you like it or not. They can say whatever they are thinking: “I way out of your league, John *wink” and then laugh. “It’s a joke! LOL!” but we all know she was just being honest. John has no chance.

The good thing is you can see right through them, but sometimes their jokes can make one laugh sadly. 

8. The Gossiper

This one lives for the latest office scandals, no matter if they’re true or not. They can spend a long time discussing a co-worker’s eating disorder, who’s likely to get sacked, one’s promotion, or who has a thing for someone else.

Yes, after middle school, the gossiping continues. Gossip is in our blood. People spend an average of 52 minutes a day gossiping, according to a 2019 study from the University of California-Riverside.

Here are a few other shocking facts about gossiping, according to LinkedIn in 2015:

  • 21% often gossip at work 
  • 15% occasionally gossip 
  • 86% gossip about company difficulties 
  • Each gossip session lasts an average of 15 minutes.

A little bit of gossip may be harmless, but it breeds negativity and drains your emotional energy when it crosses the line to rumors and unnecessary drama. It can also make employees suspicious of one another because they have trouble discerning whom to trust. How to deal with mean co-workers who start a harmful gossip session? 

The Gossiper
A little bit of gossip may be harmless – how to deal with difficult co-workers. Photo by Direct Media on StockSnap

There are a variety of approaches to dealing with office gossip. You can either quit the discussion or verify the truth of the information if you find yourself unintentionally joining a workplace gossip. Stop listening is likely to help since gossip has fewer places to go if you stop spreading it.

Asking “How do you know that?” will also help to make you appear as someone who is solely interested in delivering true facts, not in having a conversation about rumors and gossip.

9. The Lazy And Incompetent Coworker

If you’re an ambitious person who puts 110 percent into your job, having to work with a slacker who does the exact opposite might be irritating. This individual thrives on performing the least amount of work possible every day. They’re simply searching for a way out of a task, and no one likes working on group projects with them. Because they never accomplish anything, you’ll have to revise their work every time since it’s usually of bad quality.

The Lazy And Incompetent Coworker
No one likes working on group projects with a slacker – how to deal with difficult co-workers. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 

How to deal with difficult co-workers like these slackers? It’s easy to complain to your employer or other co-workers, but the emotionally sensible reaction is to figure out why they feel this way. 

It’s possible that their boss isn’t giving them any motivation. Maybe they think their hard work isn’t paid enough, leaving them little motivation to conduct their job effectively. Or, they just don’t have a specific goal to aim for. For example, if they live for the KPI, working without it cannot interest them. A challenge, on the other hand, may elicit a positive response. A constructive challenge such as “I bet we can hit our targets by the end of this week. What do you say?” perhaps would make them work harder.

In the worst scenario, maybe laziness is in their blood, and there’s nothing you can do about it. No pep talk or challenge would make these slackers occupied. In this case, one of the best tips is to stay away, so they don’t have any influence over you. 

10. The Egomaniac Colleague

This co-worker refuses to give credit to others and always wants to be the center of attention. They will shut down other people’s ideas at a meeting and insist on why their views are better, even if everyone else disagrees.

The Egomaniac Colleague
Egomaniac colleagues want to be the center of attention – how to deal with difficult co-workers. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Your co-worker might be a narcissist or egomaniac. It seems like no fun getting put down just because someone wants to make themselves feel better.  Thus, it is natural to strike back or be defensive. But it isn’t going to solve the problem, and it will not deter them from doing such action again.

So, what are your choices? How to deal with difficult co-workers like these annoying colleagues? Clinical psychologist Craig Malkin stressed that rather than feeding their egos or completely ignoring them, it’s best to “catch” and praise them when they show good behavior. 

Let’s say they bring you coffee one day because they know you have a tight deadline. A phrase like ‘Thank you for giving coffee,’ or “I feel like you have my back, and I want to push harder,” according to Malkin, is a great way to connect with them and really help them warm up to you. Thus, little by little, it may lessen their narcissistic tendencies.


These ten types of workers above tend to pop up in every office, regardless of its size, sector, or culture. We may have worked with folks like this, from the pleasant ones to those somewhat more repulsive. We can sometimes be like them. Do you know What are signs co-workers are intimidated by you? Jobandedu hope after going through this article, you are more skillful in dealing with your colleagues. Take your time and get on well with others at work since no one can change overnight. 

Emmanuel Davies

Most of Emmanuel Davies's professional life has been spent in education. Early in the year 2020, he teamed up with JobandEdu, getting a career counselor writer role and contributing such as career overview, employment counseling, and workplace culture. Davies has deep expertise in the academic and career advisor position gained via past roles at diverse establishments and foundations. Consequently, he plans to use writing to disseminate his knowledge and counsel to the masses.