12 types of colleagues and how to deal with them

12 types of colleagues and how to deal with them

As a bird is known by his note, so is a person – or colleague – by his talk. What are the different types of colleagues you can run into at work, and more importantly, how do you deal with them?

The workplace – also known as the adult version of a playground – is the habitat of different types of colleagues. As is the case with a playground, every workplace has its rules and every colleague has their own personality. Some of these we prefer over others.

For the sake of your career, your company and yourself, it is for the best that you get along with as many of your colleagues as possible. Therefore, we listed twelve different types of colleagues, how they can be recognized and how (not) to deal with them.

12 types of colleagues

1. The Winner

This is the person your manager will look at if something needs to be done. Basically, the Winner can be described as the ideal employee. The Winner is the go-to person for important moments or big projects. Needless to say, this person has a long list of accomplishments, stays calm and structured in every situation and is capable of being in charge. The Winner is a real asset for a company.

How to deal with The winner?
Keep supporting and encouraging this type of colleague. Show enough appreciation and don’t forget to ask yourself: “What can I learn from this person to perform even better?”.

2. The Silent Hero

The Silent Hero is the type of person that does their job without really taking credit for it. Nevertheless, this colleague is a really important part of your team. They simply prefer keeping a low profile. Expect the Silent Hero to do their very best, day in, day out. This person looks a lot like the Winner. Often underestimated but essential.

How to deal with The Silent Hero?
Let the Silent Hero know that their accomplishments are being noticed, without making too much of a fuss about it. Try pulling them out of their comfort zone by involving them in opportunities to lead and to take more responsibility.

3. The Mentor

The Mentor would love to teach you more than only the technical side of the job. They love sharing their knowledge and will provide you with a broader perspective on the way of working in your company and sector. Don’t be afraid to let the Mentor help you progress in your career, as this colleague only wants the best for you.

How to deal with The Mentor?
Be a good student, listen to every piece of advice this colleague has for you. Your professional journey won’t be complete without having a Mentor. No matter what position you’re in right now, having a good Mentor is always an asset. Live by their insights about your job and your career, as they can provide you with extra know-how.

4. The Veteran

No, the Veteran doesn’t have a statue of themselves in the company’s cafeteria. However, this colleague has been part of your organization for a long time. Undoubtedly, your colleagues and them will be there to remind you of this fact ever so often.

How to deal with The Veteran?
Want to know something about the history of the company or its early years? You guessed it, the Veteran is the right person to ask. Don’t forget to involve this colleague in the daily conversations and decision-making, so that they don't feel left out.

5. The Ally

Consider the Ally as a friend during and after office hours. This colleague can adopt many roles: a person who listens to your ideas, the one you can confide in or someone who drags you through difficult times. For millennials reading this: an Ally is close to a BFF.

How to deal with The Ally?
Cherish the friendships you make at work! This is the type of colleague you will always be able to rely on. Are you a newbie and looking for an Ally? Be kind and open, try to develop real relationships.

6. The Comedian

The Comedian brings a casual and playful atmosphere to the workplace. They see life through rose-colored glasses and are masters at avoiding tense situations.

How to deal with The Comedian?
Feel free to let yourself be entertained by the Comedian, as long as they don't offend anyone. Don’t let these funny moments get in the way of getting actual work done, though. There’s a time and place for everything.

7. The Gossip

“Have you heard what happened to X during the meeting?”, “Is it true they want to fire people?”, “Are those two really dating?”. These are all questions to which The Gossip will be happy to give you an answer. Some love to invent shocking stories, others spend their time telling juicy stories.

How to deal with The Gossip?
Keep an eye on The Gossip. You will probably find them in a corner or at someone else’s desk, busy uncovering the latest gossips. If these stories reach you, make sure to act wisely by keeping them to yourself. Take everything this colleague says to you with a grain of salt and watch your words when this person is around. Would it occur that you’re the protagonist of certain gossips, confront the source of the story.

8. The Sweet Talker

The Sweet Talker’s strategy is simple: doing almost anything to benefit from their superior. Saying nice things, giving compliments, … This will usually lead to this person walking over their colleagues, but hey, that’s part of the deal.

How to deal with The Sweet Talker? 
Whether the Sweet Talker’s scheme is effective or not, is entirely their own problem. It’s better to just leave them alone. However, let this motivate you to shine a light on your own accomplishments and remind your superiors of the added value you bring to the company.

9. The Complainer

The Complainer would only be an asset, would the company make profit out of complaining. Experience teaches it is rarely positive to be around someone who grumbles all the time. This kind of behaviour can be the result of frustration, boredom, stress or being unhappy at work.

How to deal with The Complainer? 
Don’t let yourself get dragged into this colleague’s negativity. Instead, try to proactively deflect the conversation into a more positive subject, a solution for their frustrations for example.

10. The Politician

The Politician comes in all shapes and sizes. Have you ever met someone you thought was an ally, who then stabbed you in the back by presenting your idea like it was theirs?

How to deal with The Politician?
Be vigilant and don’t let your guard down, even if it seems like you can. Take everything the Politician says with a big grain of salt.

11. The Lazybones

The Lazybones is just like a fata morgana. They look really busy, while actually passing their responsibilities onto others and still taking credit for them.

How to deal with The Lazybones? 
If this colleague’s actions are not impacting you or your team, it is best for you to ignore them. If they do affect you, make sure to signal this behaviour. In case you manage a slacker, try to keep an extra eye on them by giving this person concrete goals and deadlines.

12. The Newbie

The Newbie is possibly a young graduate or someone else who recently joined the company.

How to deal with The Newbie?
Do you remember your own awkward first days? Time to step forward and become a Mentor. Take this person under your wing, if necessary, and make every day a chance to learn. Your new colleague will be very grateful.

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