A perfect office with ideal colleagues is a utopia. You’ve got to use all your ingenuity and guile to come out smiling after a day in the company of irritating co-workers.
Here are some smart tips on how to deal with difficult co-workers:
Pritam loves his job but hates Uttara who has the adjacent workstation and is currently in the throes of a nasty divorce. “I know exactly how the case is progressing, each twist and turn in her custody battle, who gets the dog and the DVD player and even the Noritake dinner set they were gifted at the wedding,” Pritam reels off with a resigned air, as he prepares to launch into yet another project alone because Uttara is too distressed to work.
Work shirking colleagues are tricky business. Ignoring them doesn’t help, dropping hate mails can backfire and complaining makes you look like the office whiner. But neither do you want to suffer in silence. A perfect office is a utopia but burning the midnight oil as your less efficient co-workers trapeze out on painted toe nails isn’t acceptable either. So, a crash course in tactics, tact and timing is essential for coping with Uttara and her tribe.
The Shirkers are the easiest to spot. You’ll find them moaning about their workload over lunch or the coffee maker. The first to offer unsolicited advice, contacts and help, smooth talkers who’re up to date with office politics and gossip, they spend more time catching up with their personal mail than working on the report that was due last week. Simply blow the whistle on them. Or just let them trundle along, and they’ll get caught out sooner than they think.
The Buck Passer is an intelligent creature who uses his ingenuity to come up with unique excuses to offload his work on you. Fool that you are you’re probably even flattered until the criticism comes along and you become the convenient whipping boy (or girl). Note that when the compliments roll in, they’re perfectly positioned to grab them. It’s frustrating to see buck passers darting glances at hapless, blameless colleagues when a dressing down is underway and the best way to deal with it is to say something along the lines of “I think (his/her name) handled the project” even if the person in question is trying to kick you under the table. Then sit back and watch the fun.
The Procrastinator always reckons tomorrow’s the best time to start, but of course tomorrow never comes. The moment of productivity rarely strikes and the reason they come to work is obviously the free coffee and subsidized canteen food. If your team has its share of procrastinators, spell out clear timelines for specific projects and demand compliance. If all else fails, stalk the coffee machine or loiter outside the toilets, they’ll show up soon enough.
The Critic has mastered the art of finding flaws in the best piece of work. Drawing comparisons and highlighting their own amazing work is their pet technique. This is a colleague to watch out for. He’s insecure, jealous and your real competition. The only way really to deal with him is to persevere regardless and wait for the moment of reckoning when seniors applaud your work.
You’ll spot an Interrupter if his derriere rests on your table as much as your computer and landline phone. They can be fun and interesting but such co-workers hamper your productivity. They love attention and it doesn’t matter if you’re hard at work on an important report. Learn to say no, gently and politely. Realize that they’re just passing their time at your expense. Take a break when it suits you and don’t feel bad, the Interrupter will find another bakra in the office. In any case, they’re probably telling everyone the same thing.
And finally, the original Boss from Hell. Savita’s a bundle of nerves. Fresh out of an MBA course, she jumped at the chance of working for a well known Mumbai-based NGO but didn’t know she’d be reporting to the office bully. Hunched up in her cabin as she pores over yet another project report, breaking off only to slip into a reverie about all the horrible ways she can slay her monster boss, her happy, enthusiasm a distant memory. Waiting it out is probably the most sensible option, though it’s easier said than done. Transfers do happen, but in the meantime, make sure that other influential people in the office are aware of what you’re working on.