The office -- or whatever your work environment -- is the one place at which you probably spend more time than your own home. And if you work long hours or multiple jobs, it's likely you see your boss or colleagues more than your own family and friends. It can make it especially overwhelming to try to navigate personality conflicts at work.
"It's challenging to avoid toxic people with whom you must work with. To make matters more complex, toxic people aren't that way 24/7; they tend to have their days," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.
With common pressures outside work taking precedence -- like finances and family -- ma people may choose to keep their head down and push through conflict. However, Taylor says, "It's better to confront the issue and communicate as best you can, attempting to make the relationship at least functional and cordial.
"Having a positive rapport with your colleagues significantly increases your chances of delivering the best results," she explains. "If you foster an upbeat environment that embraces mutual respect, trust and a 'we' versus 'me' approach, you have a much better chance to ascend into greater leadership roles, as well."
Below are eight classic personality types that Taylor believes most employees encounter among bosses and coworkers at some point in their careers, if not regularly. Plus, she shares advice for how to deal with intolerable behavior so that you can be your best self in the workplace and in life.
1. The Bully
Characteristics: The bully humiliates and is abusive in order to get the result they desire.
Solutions: Taylor strongly advises against bullying back. Instead, intervene early when the behavior is triggered and use positive bookends when you do so. For example, "I like working here and feel that I'm able to contribute a great deal. It did set me back a bit when you said 'X' in front of John. It would help me in my job if we could do more of 'A' and less of 'B.'" Then, after getting response, add "I greatly appreciate your taking the time to meet with me."
However, if the bullying behavior is ongoing and untenable, Taylor suggests getting yourself out of harm's way ASAP.
2. The Tantrum Thrower
Characteristics: They lash out at those around them as opposed to managing their emotions in a socially acceptable way.
Solutions: It is important to understand when this individual is most triggered to lose emotional control (for example, after bad company news or long staff meetings). "After a childish rant and the venting has passed, state the more rationale facts without becoming confrontational," says Taylor. "Start your conversation in a calm tone and be the voice of reason. If this is an ongoing practice that's fast becoming abusive, however, consider visiting your favorite job board."
3. The Stubborn One
Characteristics: It's this person's way or the highway, making it difficult to move your projects forward.
Solutions: "Use positive language to relax toxic people when they're in an obstinate rut. Consider offering a wider array of choices and approaches, so they can save face. Consider some 'concessions' so that the outcome appears to be a win-win," says Taylor.
4. The Demanding Boss
Characteristics: Typical behavior among managers, the demanding colleague expects the impossible from you in terms of the project itself, the volume of work or the deadlines to accomplish tasks.
Solutions: Taylor suggest helping your boss establish more realistic priorities by making them aware of what it takes to get projects done. She adds, "When you're overwhelmed, ask which project takes precedence. Explain that you want to be on the same page and focus your efforts most productively."
5. The Passive-Aggressive Peer
Characteristics: These people are nearly impossible to read, poor communicators and are typically unavailable when you need them. They can ignore you, as they avoid any potential confrontation at almost any cost.
Solutions: "Find ways that will appeal to your boss or peer in terms of communicating as well as content. Maybe she prefers regular email updates or concise voice mails; find out," says Taylor. "Establish a protocol for meeting regularly that's acceptable. Make sure your meetings are to the point and engaging. Find out the projects on her plate, too, so you can garner maximum interest."
6. The Moody Individual
Characteristics: These toxic workers act out in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. They may make big decisions hastily because of the emotion de jour.
Solutions: According to Taylor, the simple tactic is to be a beacon of calm and to refrain from overreacting yourself to events and circumstances. She adds, "Know that the mood will likely swing the other way in due time. In the meantime, know the cues for a bad storm on its way. Time your meetings accordingly. Use clever humor to lessen the tension if appropriate."
7. The Micromanager
Characteristics: Managers or co-workers who micromanage either don't trust you or just can't leave you alone. Either way, they can sap your morale instantly, because it feels like they're compelled to think for you.
Solutions: "Learn to 'over-communicate' so others are aware of your project status and have no reason to check up on you. Some bosses and coworkers just want to hang around," says Taylor. "Be low-key when discussing time off or you could trigger 'separation anxiety.'"
8. The Liar
Characteristics: They may manipulate or lie to you to get you to work harder, or to achieve anything that serves their needs. You can't trust this colleague because honesty is just not a priority.
Solutions: "Ask your boss or colleague to recap and elaborate. By asking probing questions, it will be harder to fabricate. Just have all your facts before judging and be sure to cover your tracks in writing," says Taylor.
Taylor's final words of advice for friction in the workplace: Remember that you have choices when it comes to your career.
"Never feel trapped, as you have as many opportunities as you allow yourself," she says. "The problem is that it's far too easy to stay with routine, even if it's toxic -- because change can seem equally daunting."
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