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12 Types of Difficult Coworkers & How to Deal with Them?

We work from 8am till 5pm in the office every Monday to Friday. Thus, our workplace has somehow became our second home. In fact, we spend more time in the office than in the house. Therefore, our workplace needs to be a place we enjoy being at, and look forward going to everyday. Work is already stressful, wouldn’t it be even worse if you don’t enjoy the company of your coworkers and had to deal with toxic coworkers every day?

How to deal with difficult coworkers at work

Nobody can guarantee you that you will always have pleasant colleagues in the company. Everybody is different from one another so it is normal to have difficult coworkers due to the different personality types in the workplace. These are the people who makes you dread to go to the office every day but what can you do? No matter how much you hate them, you will still need to deal with these toxic coworkers in order to be happy in your work and survive at workplace. In this article, we talk about the difficult and hateful types of coworkers and tips on dealing with difficult coworkers everyone has in the office today.



How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers at Work

1.    The one who always gossips

The one who always gossips

A person who likes to gossip is a person who likes to spread rumors – whether true or untrue about other person.  A gossiper spends most of their break time (and also working time) whispering, talking softly or sometimes quite loudly with another coworker about how A got dumped by her boyfriend last week, how B was late and got scolded by the boss yesterday and how C doesn’t like B because B is always making fun of C’s height.

A person who gossips tend to have something to say about everyone who comes across their life. It is not surprising to see A telling B how she hated C because C is not a great team player and the next day tells C how much she hated B for always procrastinating her work. It is easy for them to judge others and give their comments because gossipers normally will not talk about themselves. It gives them the satisfaction of putting other people’s life as a discussion and make themselves feel better.


How to deal with gossiping coworkers:

You cannot avoid yourself from being the topic of the gossip, however you can keep yourself from being involved in the gossip. Stay away from a coworker who talks too much and spreads rumors about others. Even if you eventually had to participate in the gossip, just listen and keep quiet. Don’t get tangled up in the whole gossip mess. Do not make any judgements or provide any comments. Keep in mind that those who gossips about others to you, will most probably gossip to others about you too.



2.    The one who always complains

Signs of a bad coworker

There will always be such person in the workplace and is every signs of a bad coworker. Someone who will always have something to complain about – be it their work, their personal life or their boss. It is very annoying when you have to listen to them moaning and complaining about everything almost every day. “Do you know that my workload is the heaviest in the whole team?” “I have endless calls and meetings that drags whole night!” “You thought you have the worst day? Wait till you hear mine.” “Everyone is happy with their work and leaving on time every day except for me.” And the complaints goes on and on.

Nothing seems to satisfy or please this particular coworker who will always try to find faults or magnifies every little unfortunate thing that happened in his or her life.


How to deal with coworker who complains constantly:

Keep communications to the minimum as it drains you of your positive energy and happy vibes when they drown you with their complaints. This kind of colleague also makes you feel guilty of having a smooth work day or enjoying what you are doing. If you really had to listen to their complaints simply because you are the person sitting nearest to them in the office, then listen for a while and quickly change the topic to distract the complainer and end the complaining.


3.    The one who frequently makes mistakes

Dealing with difficult coworker

This type of coworker is basically harmless, however they give you headaches in cleaning up after their mess. Their unconcerned attitude towards their work often results in a lot of mistakes which might also bring you inconvenience especially if you are in the same team and needs to cover for each other. You spend part of your time correcting their mistakes and going through their work that you have no time for your own work.


How to deal with a coworker who always makes mistakes:

Dealing with difficult coworker is never easy, especially when it comes to dealing with someone who always can’t seem to work without dragging your productivity down. Talk to the person to let him or her know your concern over the quality of their work and how it will lead to unwanted escalations one fine day. Let him or her know where the problems or mistakes are and work together to see how both of you can avoid it. If it is about the carelessness of the coworker which resulted in the mistakes, then politely request the person to be extra careful and make it a point to check their work. If it is something to do with the lack of skills or experience, then see how you can help him or her understand the work better.

However, if this still continues even after you tried to work it out with the person, then let him or her know that you will have to talk to the manager to see if something can be done.


4.    The one who is always on leave or on medical leave

The one who is always on leave or on medical leave

This person always seems to have endless excuses for not reporting for work especially during critical periods like month end closing or during peak periods when workload is high. They do not seem to care how you are coping with your own work plus theirs; as long as they come back to the completed task the next day.


How to deal with coworker who is always absent:

Set expectations that you do not always have to support them in their work whenever they are absent. If this is getting too overwhelming for you especially during critical periods, talk to your manager to see if the workload can be distributed among other team members.



5.    The one who is lazy

Toxic coworkers signs

One of the toxic coworkers signs is someone who is lazy and often procrastinates in getting the job done. Other things like chatting with another coworker, or browsing social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, or playing games on their smartphones seems to interest them more than their work. They can’t seem to focus on their work and is easily distracted by the things happening around them. This person can’t seem to get his or her things done and often had to delay their work until the last minute when everyone else had completed theirs. Having this kind of coworker is frustrating for you during the time when you are waiting for them to complete their work in order for you to do yours. For example, you might be waiting for them to hand over their submission so that you can process the orders.

However, as they hand over the submission to you late, you somehow had to put other things on hold and prioritize their task because you do not have much time left to complete your part.


How to deal with lazy colleagues:

Let your coworker know that their procrastination should not be affecting your work. What you can do with a colleague who likes to delay their work is that you can set an expectation that you will not be accepting any last minute request of theirs. Set a cutoff date or time so that the person knows you will not be entertaining them once the deadline is over.



6.    The one who is always negative

Dealing negative coworkers

A coworker who is always negative does not only opposes to all changes and have negative opinion on the things happening in the work place; he or she is also a toxic to you as they will turn your positivity into negative vibes if you get too close to them. In the long run, a negative coworker will make your morale low and eventually make you lose interest in your job or give up trying even before you make an effort.


How to deal with a negative coworker:

One of the ways in dealing negative coworkers is to stay positive yourself or surround yourself with other positive people. Choose positive and motivated coworkers to hang out with and avoid negative coworkers if you can so that you won’t be easily influenced by them and let their negativity consume you.

You can also handle negative coworker by not turning the conversation into a 2 way communication where you give the impression that you are readily available to talk and empathize with that person.



7.    The one who forms cliques at the workplace

How to deal with bullying coworkers

Most often, a person who feels insecure about herself/himself or does not like being a standalone will generally form cliques with others in order to feel powerful and well-liked by others. Some might feel intimated and bothered by cliques in the workplace as those in the groups tend to make others that are not in the group feel unpopular and unwanted. Bullying can also happen when you are different from them and we see the same situation happening in high schools happening again in the work place. You felt demoralized and dreads going to work to avoid being the object of their discussion just because you are not being accepted as part of the group.


How to deal with bullying coworkers:

Surviving workplace bullying is not easy but it is not impossible either. Everything takes time. Ignore them and not let what they do or say bother you. One day, you might realize you no longer care about what they are doing or saying either. Don’t think of changing yourself just to join them or fit into the group. As the saying goes, ‘birds of the same feather flock together’. You don’t even want to join them as you are nothing like them.



8.    The one who suck up to bosses

The one who suck up to bosses

There will be a colleague in your workplace who prefers to use this way to climb to top of the ladder. This type of person will always be your boss’s favorite as he or she will say yes to everything your boss said no matter if it is right or wrong in order to flatter the boss. It might even cost you a chance for a promotion when the boss chooses him or her over you, not because the person can perform better than you, but because the person works to please the boss.


How to deal with suck ups:

There are no special ways to deal with suck ups. You couldn’t possibly be confronting them to let them know your concern on them sucking up to your boss. If your leader is the type of person who prefers suck ups in their team, then it is time for you to quit your job and move on to work under other better leaders. Read more When is it Time to Quit Your Job?



9.    The one who backstabs

The one who suck up to bosses

One of the reason a coworker backstabs you is when that particular coworker is treating you as a threat to their position in the workplace. This person is jealous of how you are more likeable by other coworkers, is envy of how the boss praises you in front of everyone and is afraid of you standing out more than him or her. A backstabber will go all out to spoil your reputation with untrue remarks just to bring you down.

Imagine a situation where your manager is contemplating to give you a promotion and is asking those in your team for feedback about you but this particular coworker tells the manager how you are not supportive and helpful with issues and even see you talking too much and on social media rather than working. This will definitely bring some bad impression to your manager and cause your manager to hesitate on the promotion.


How to deal with a backstabber coworker:

Do not reveal too much of yourself so that the backstabber does not have a chance to spread rumors about you and bring you down. Protect yourself in everything you do so that you do not create opportunity for backstabbers to be successful in their plan. If the situation gets worse, confront the coworker who backstabs you to know what you have done wrong and why are they putting you in this position.



10.    The one who takes your credits

The one who takes your credits

You find yourself working hard as always, giving it all, but you are never mentioned or awarded by the boss and even worse, your boss does not even know it was you who contributed. Either you are being too quiet and does not have visibility, or someone else is taking all your credits. It is easy to find out if someone has been taking credit for your work. It is mostly the person you are working closely with, whose job is interrelated to yours. You give ideas during a brainstorming session and that person shoots all your ideas down. However, you suddenly hear your boss praising that particular person for providing great insights, something that is familiar to what you have mentioned during the session.

Or, there will be times when that particular person asks you for your opinion on a certain issue, and later, you somehow hears that person discussing the same issue with your boss and gives your boss his or her opinion without mentioning your name.


How to deal with a coworker who steals your credit:

Again, avoid revealing too much of information in front of the coworker whom you see will potentially take your credit. Take the opportunity every time to correct your boss or let your boss or even anyone of importance know about your involvement in the work. Never stay behind the scene and allow the person to steal all your credits. This type of person will continue to do what they are doing because no one is going to realized or find out the truth if you are not going to speak up and stand for yourself.



11.    The one who knows it all

The one who knows it all

This type of coworker annoys the hell out of you because you probably cannot finish your sentence without being stopped or interrupted. Mr/Mrs Knows it all seems to always have something to say or some opinion to add whenever you are discussing on something which they thought they might be the expert. They refuse to listen to your inputs or other people’s idea just because they think they are smarter than the rest. It hurts their pride if you do not agree or try to argue with them.


How to deal with Mr/Mrs Knows it all:

Take a deep breath. Allow him or her to talk or present their ideas then ask for some time to present yours and let them know they can give their comments after you are done. Do not purposely cut them off just because they are annoying you. Like I said, it hurts their pride and might even lead to conflict between the both you.



12.    The one who spends most of their time networking

The one who spends most of their time networking

It is easy to identify this type of person. This person spends most of their time networking with almost anyone they come across with, be it from the upper level or lower level. They made it a point to stay in touch, and to be on their good books so that it will help in their career path or their work whenever required. They seem to have a lot of friends and acquaintances from work and spends time talking on the corridors, pantry or on the phone rather than working. They distract you from your work as you are unable to focus because they do not even bother to check with you if you are available to talk, and continue the conversation with you. They can’t even finish their own work and had to spend a lot of time after working hours to catch up with the tasks that could not be completed during working hours.


How to deal with a coworker who talks more than work:

Tell him or her politely that you are behind schedule and would like to complete your work so that you can clock out on time. Do not give impression that you are free or entertain them whenever they try to strike a conversation. Pretend to be focused on your work and occasionally avoid eye contact so that they know you are not available to talk.



We work in an environment with people from different backgrounds and cultures so it is a norm to have different personalities at work. Dealing difficult colleagues is something everyone had to encounter and is part and parcel of their work.

With this, I hope this list of difficult coworker types provides you with some good laughs and comfort to know that you are not alone. I also hope that these dealing with difficult people tips are helpful to you whenever you feel like giving up and quitting your job.


About Life Hack Guide Admin

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  1. This post made me laugh; I think we can all recognize these 12 kind of individuals in our own lives- let’s just hope that we aren’t one of them! I think another way of dealing with negative coworkers is to reply positively, and try and help them see situations in a better light. This works for me (sometimes!)

    • Thanks for your insights, Danny. Definitely one of the ways to deal with a negative coworker is to insert some positive vibes into them. After all, nobody wants to work in an environment when there are negative people all around you.

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