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Which of These 9 Types of Colleagues Are Stressing You Out?

ByWill Bridges,
business.com writer
| Last Modified
Oct 01, 2015
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At some time or another we all experience stressful work situations, whether in the form of impending deadlines, troublesome clients or a heavy workload. However, many of us will also experience stress caused by colleagues. 

Generally, we have no choice over who we work with, and often, we spend more time with colleagues than with friends or family. Sometimes, that means hanging out with people that bring you down instead of support you.

We’ve identified the nine prime suspects and the ways in which you should deal with them.

Related Article: 5 Signs of a Bad Manager

1. The Gossip

Listening to workplace gossip is not only time consuming but it can also be draining and upsetting. Most office gossip is harmless and some gentle ribbing is par for the course, however, it can take a more sinister turn.

Try not to be drawn into conversations of this nature and take everything they say with a pinch of salt. If the situation becomes too stressful either try to remove yourself from it or steer the conversation in a different direction.  

2. The Shirker

While you might be on top of your workload, working autonomously isn’t always possible and from time to time you may have to wait on a colleague in order to complete a task.

This can be a highly stressful situation, which may seem out of your control and cause you to become frustrated. However, try not to get too stressed and instead attempt to talk to the offending colleague.

Let them or their manager know that their performance is causing some hold ups. Arranging check-ins at various stages of the project might help to keep the individual on track. For time sensitive projects, where possible try to find a solution to the problem or a work-around in the meantime.

3. The Pessimist

Being surrounded by individuals with a negative attitude can really get you down and cause extra unnecessary stress.

Although feedback and opinions can be useful, negativity can start to grate and is often no use to anybody; unlike constructive criticism.

Deal with colleagues who meet your proposals with negative comments by standing your ground and telling them that while you take their opinion on board, on this occasion you will be proceeding as planned. You can’t control how they behave but you can control how you react to their pessimism.

4. The Whinger

Stress can be catching; therefore sitting near a colleague who is constantly worrying or moaning about things, such as their personal life or office politics, can impact on the way you feel.

Spending a lot of time with this kind of person can cause you to become stressed, as you absorb the emotions and situations they are experiencing. You may find that you get stressed about things easily as a result.

In these situations try to take a step back, suggest the individual talks to HR or even a counselor, and remind yourself that you do not share the same issues.

Related Article: Personality Disorders that Get You Hired

5. The Joker

Almost every office has a practical joker and while it might be funny at first, it can begin to tire and, if you’re the butt of the jokes, stress you out. Also, constant jokes while you’re trying to work is never ideal.

You might feel like a party pooper if you say anything about it but suffering in silence isn’t going to help. Politely declining to be involved in such situations or informing the individual of how busy you are can help alleviate the problem.

6. The Suck-Up

Just like at school, there’s always one or two individuals who like to be the teacher’s or boss’ pet.

This individual can schmooze with the best of them and will trample over anyone in order to be seen to be doing what the boss wants. Try not to concern yourself with this and instead focus on your own performance.

7. The Competition

Unfortunately, some people see life as one big competition and you may experience one or two colleagues like this during your career.

Overly competitive individuals can make you feel inadequate and undermine your work and achievements. Try not to let this get to you, comparing yourself to others is stressful as it is, never mind somebody who is constantly trying to out-do everybody else.

8. The Slacker

This person turns up late most days, takes a long lunch break and leaves before anybody else.

In other words, they’re the worst! If you’re also friends with this colleague it can become even more stressful as you might find yourself easily swayed to take that extra ten minutes at lunch. However, in reality, it isn’t worth it.

Sticking to your working hours will cause you less stress in the long run as it will mean you won’t have to stay late to finish your tasks.

9. The Rude One

Rude colleagues can put a huge strain on their co-workers, with researchers at the University of Texas finding that some then take the subsequent stress home with them.

Not only can they make a workplace an unpleasant environment but they can leave colleagues feeling upset and stressed about going in the next day. Tackle this by talking to them calmly about the situation and, failing that, speak to your HR department regarding the issue.

Will Bridges
Will Bridges
See Will Bridges's Profile
Will Bridges is an HR Consultant at Unum, one of the UK’s leading financial protection insurers. Unum specialises in providing Income Protection through the workplace, and is committed to helping the UK’s workforce get a back-up plan.
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