HUMAN RESOURCES / JUN. 27, 2014
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Newbies Should Identify These Toxic Coworkers Before It's Too Late

When I started my new job three years ago, I was ecstatic. It was my first job fresh out of university and I just couldn’t wait to become a tax payer. The first day at my new job was good. Everyone was friendly.

When I received my first pay check, this friend, let’s call her Mrs. Smith, came to me with tear filled eyes. She told me this long sob story of how her daughter was sick and she didn’t have enough money to pay her hospital bill. Feeling sorry for her, I lent her some money with the promise that she would return it on her next pay check.

When we received the next paycheck, I assumed that she would honor her promise and pay me back my money. But then she came up with another sob story about how her mom was sick and she really had to send her some money. Feeling sorry for her (again) I told her that I would wait until her next pay check.

By now I know you are probably guessing that she had a sob story at the end of every month. Eventually I grew tired of her sob stories and I asked another coworker what Mrs. Smith’s story was and how come she had all these sob stories. That’s when I learned that I was just another newbie that fell for her sob stories and lent her money. She had a habit of coming up with sob stories hoping that she would make you feel sorry for her until you forgave her debt.

Since then, I learned that there are many types of coworkers that are simply toxic to newbies and also other coworkers in the workplace. They are not easy to spot on the first day, but when you look closely they are right there for you to see.

The Slacker

This type of employee doesn’t do their job although you might be fooled into thinking that they do. They are charming and very likeable so they easily get other people to “help” them get their job done. If you watch closely, they spend more time socializing with other people and less time working.

Chances are they will be the first person to welcome you to the organization, introduce you to a few people and make you feel like you belong. I’m not saying that everyone who does this is a slacker and they will have you doing their job without knowing it, but it helps to always be smart. If they charm you into doing their job, at least make sure you get credit for it.

The Belittler

I have never figured out what the belittler’s problem is. You’d think that if you have an idea to get something done within the shortest period of time they would support it. After all, don’t we all want to go home and relax with a glass of wine rather than work all night trying to complete a project? But obviously, that is not what the belittler wants.

He will shoot down your ideas and make you feel like the dumbest person in the room. The funny thing is that, he won’t share his brilliant idea since yours sounds like something even a two year old would call dumb. My advice would be to challenge them to share their ideas if yours doesn’t sound reasonable.

The Credit Thief

The credit thief is very good at making other people see that he is the hardest working employee in the organization when in real sense, he is not. He spends his time looking at what other people are doing and complaining how no one in the company works as hard as he does.

He makes it seem like he is assigned so much work that he can’t handle it himself. He is similar to the slacker only difference is that he takes credit for all the work. He works harder to get out of doing a task rather than completing it yet when it is completed, he is there to take all the credit. My advice is to stay away from this guy or you will be spending your days doing his job.

The Finger Pointer

The finger pointer is always good at identifying people to blame when something goes wrong. God forbid if they ever have to admit that they made a mistake. The finger pointer avoids making decisions because he doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything. He uses a passive approach and spends more time looking for someone to blame rather than finding a solution to the problem. The only way to deal with the finger pointer is to make him make a decision or tear down the fence so he has nothing to sit on.

The Flirt

I couldn’t leave out the flirt because he is always present in every workplace. He is likely very charming, good looking, probably smells good, can cook and has all those other admirable qualities that every woman dreams of. At first you may not spot it because he acts friendly but after a few emails he makes it clear that he is flirting with you. Don’t be surprised if you are not the first person that he has ever flirted with and you certainly won’t be the last once he gets what he wants. And yes, women too can be the office flirt; it goes both ways. My advice would be to keep everything in the office as professional as possible. Don’t even think about engaging the office flirt.

Have you ever encountered any of the types of coworkers mentioned above? Are there any more you can think of? Your thoughts and comments below…

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