6 People to Avoid in the Professional World

Let’s face it, the workplace can be like a battlefield. It’s hard enough that you have to huddle in a little cubicle, slagging away every day to support yourself and your family, but you also have a bunch of workplace drama that you usually have to deal with, too.

While this is not true of all work environments, there are some people in your professional crowd that you definitely want to avoid. Learn the traits of these professional piranhas, and stay out of their treacherous pond at work, so you don’t get eaten alive and watch your career go down in flames.

Idea Thief

The idea thief is the one who takes your great ideas and somehow turns them into his or her own great ideas. He recognizes a good idea when he swipes one, and runs straight to the powers that be to sell them on his grand plan before the creator gets a whiff of what just happened.

How to Deal With Him:

Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short! Never give away your great ideas for free. Make sure you share them with the appropriate person and not someone who has the opportunity to use your own information against you. Once you identify who the credibility crook is, steer clear!

If you’re forced into a situation where you must work directly with an idea thief, be protective and proactive. Share your work with your boss before the idea thief gets his dirty little paws on it. If you’re brainstorming on email, be sure to CC your boss on all original work created by you. This way, the idea thief will get the hint, and go sponge off someone else’s smarts!

Slacker Steve

These are the workers that sit on a committee or a team, but don’t contribute anything to the project or job task. A group project is the ideal situation for this person, because the rest of the team that has to pick up the slack of Slacker Steve if they want to get the job done. And the worse part is that the slacker gets just as much credit for completing the job task as all of the people who actually worked!

How to Deal with Him:

Nobody likes to be the office tattletale, but if you get stuck bearing the burden of a tough project with only Slacker Steve to offer assistance, take the matter to someone higher up on the food chain. Explain that you feel more comfortable working independently, or perhaps you’d be better paired with someone else in the group who matches your level of industriousness. If that doesn’t work, come right and say that you don’t feel like Steve is pulling his weight. In general, slackers make things draining and frustrating for the rest of us, so stay clear of working with with these toads if you can!

The Control Freak

Next, you have those in the crowd who have to control everything. From what time the meeting is scheduled to assigning tasks to nitpicking the grammar and then changing it back again, the control freak has to have their hands on all aspects of the task at hand. Even when they assign the tasks to a group, the work is never as good as if they had done it themselves, so they end up doing your work for you, or redoing work you’ve already done.

How to Deal With Him:

You have one of two choices when stuck working with the Control Freak. One, you can take a passive role in the project and simply let him micro-manage you. However, this tends to come back and bite you, because if the Control Freak gets out of control, you’ll likely be the one blamed for whatever he messed up. Another option is to somehow finagle a situation where the control freak becomes so engrossed in whatever he’s doing that he can’t possibly have time to pick on your work.

Or, there is always option three, which is to direct his attention to a lesser individual in the group – someone with less experience, who is more likely to actually NEED his constant instructions. In general though, being in the driver’s seat is the control freak’s power feeder, so don’t add fuel to the fire.

Debbie Downer

The power of positive thinking works. If you surround yourself with positive people and have a positive attitude of your own, you’ll go a lot farther than if you hang with a crowd of Negative Nellies. Unfortunately there is always the Debbie or Nellie of the crowd… the one who, if there’s an open parking spot close to the building, will complain that now everyone can watch her as she eats lunch in her car. You all got bonuses, but according to Debbie Downer, it’s not enough… you know the type I refer to! If you get wrapped up in her negativity, she’s going to drag you down.

How to Deal With Her:

If you find yourself stuck under the same raincloud, bring an umbrella! Or, I should say a pair of earphones. Listening to music while working is a great way to drone out the Debbie Downers of the world. Also, make it known (in a polite way of course) that you do not share her pessimistic attitude.

Keep your mind focused on the good things. Use that energy to motivate the rest of the team. Or, at the very least… if Debbie Downer criticizes a certain aspect of work that’s fixable… why not take her advice and work toward improvement! Keep it up, and who knows… you might even get a pay raise for your effort.

Bootlicker Bob

Bootlicker Bob only cares about himself and his success, so he’ll do anything to get ahead. Also known as brownnosers, bootlickers focus all of their energy on making themselves look good and their colleagues look bad. They’re usually the ones trailing the boss, answering to his or her every whim.

How to Deal With Him:

Bootlicker Bob is probably the least harmful out of all the workplace weasles you may encounter. He’s annoying more than anything else – so find ways to avoid him and/or drown him out. If you see that Bootlicker Bob’s sucking up has outed you from a few opportunities to be noticed for your good work, then be the squeaky wheel and make some (positive) noise of your own. If he’s a snitch, keep your nose clean and document everything you do. It’s a good practice to get into anyway, regardless of whether there’s a brownnoser sniffing about.

Backstabber Betty

Similar to bootlickers, backstabbers will do anything it takes to get ahead. They’ll throw you and other colleagues under the bus in a heartbeat, if it means getting that promotion, earning the boss’s praise, or snagging that pay raise.

How to Deal with Her:

Avoid backstabbers like the plague and you’ll avoid becoming one of their casualties in the workplace. Also, play your cards close to the vest, just as you would with the Idea Thief. Keep communication reserved for you and your boss, and try to pair up on projects with someone else, who won’t try to take your credit or steal your thunder. Again, ask if you can go it solo for certain tasks – it will certainly allow you to prove your own competence without old Betty knifing you when you’re not looking, just so she can claw her way to the top!

At work, you have to deal with a lot of different types of people. While there are many good folks that you probably enjoy working with, others can be toxic to you and your career. Stay clear of these six types and you’re sure to soar ahead without any workplace drama.

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