We all know that one person in the office who is always sucking up to the boss, or the one that’s forever calling in sick.
And now in a new book, ‘Say No Without Guilt, Have Better Relationships, Boost Your Self-Esteem, Stop People-Pleasing,’ UK-based psychotherapist Jennie Miller and journalist Victoria Lambert have identified the five key characters you’ll find in every workplace.
These vary from the ‘A-Lister’, who is forever anxious about their health, to the ‘yes man/woman,’ who is too eager to please and always agrees with their superiors.
The writers claim that once you identify which one you are – and where your colleagues fit in- it will make your job much less stressful as you can adjust your behaviour accordingly.
Read on to find out which office personality you are, and what changes you might need to make.
It’s possible that both you and a colleague could fit into more than one category, so be sure to consider the tips for both.
The A Lister
With the ‘A’ standing for ailment, this type of colleague is defined by being forever anxious about their health
They are often frequently off work with ‘another virus’ or constantly seeking sympathy by bringing their problems into the office for all to hear
While their worries may be real, their behaviour resembles that of a child and pushes their colleagues’ self-boundaries by demanding their attention and support to manage their workload or deal with a tricky boss.
Is this you?
If you remember feeling constantly unwell, particularly if this coincides with starting a current job, a recent career move or even a change in management, then you could well be the ‘A-Lister.’
Is this your colleague?
If you feel continually drawn to help and find yourself standing up for them when other people are complaining you are a rescuer – and it’s essential you consider your own self-care.
Staying longer to help the ‘A-Lister’ catch up so they don’t get in trouble for being behind on work, or being stuck in the kitchen as they offload their problems will impact on your own work and life.
‘Only offer help at a level that will not deplete your own resources or affect your own well being,’ Jennie and Victoria advised. ‘Perhaps it is time to talk to your colleague, to express your feelings and explain your own position and limitations.’
Alternatively, if you aren’t the first to offer the colleague a soothing cup of tea, you may be a ‘persecutor.’ If this is the case, it’s important you are aware of how much time you spend with the ‘A-Lister’.
Even though you may not be venting your frustration out loud, you may find you offload to a partner outside of office hours, which can contribute to unhappiness. While you can continue to be empathetic, the experts advise you take a step back.
‘You could ask them: “What is it you need from me?”,’ they explained. ‘This is inviting an open dialogue, rather than allowing yourself to have demands put upon you and instinctively wanting to push back.
Technos are official – or unofficial – IT support workers
They have a perceived superiority and controlling position which can make them irritating and sometimes the subject of fun
A person in this role is required to support or lead
They take out their frustrations on others for faults in the system or their own lack of knowledge
Is this you?
If your title is something like tech support, then the authors advise you approach this differently to someone who has taken on the role in addition to their existing job.
If you are an official ‘Techno’, you must establish your boundaries and be responsible for requesting your own support. For example, you may want to learn how to train others or how to manage.
But if it’s a position you have fallen into, you will need to check your boundaries. It’s important you question how much time you spend helping others and consider the stress levels with your own workload.
Is this your colleague?
If you see IT as being beneath you and encourage others lower down the chain to sort out the problem, or ask for help before even attempting it yourself, you are what the authors describe as a ‘persecutor.’
‘Both of these actions deny you the chance to behave like an Adult – addressing what you can achieve for yourself to aid you getting on with your work, and being appropriately grateful for help if you really need it,’ Jennie and Victoria explain. ‘It’s important you draw a line as a healthy self-boundary does not disrespect others.’
The Bully/The Bullied
These are a classic pair of related roles and most workplaces will have at least one pair, if not more
You may not be in direct contact with them but you can still experience the results of their antics
Is this you?
If you find a colleague endlessly irritating, have a lot of negative thoughts around them, feel threatened by them in some way or even believe they are not up to their role, it’s likely that you could be the bully.
Are you the bullied?
Alternatively, if you often feel like you are being treated badly or being ignored, you could be the victim of bulling. You may also find yourself making excuses not to go to HR to report what’s happening or feel like there is no place to go.
While you may not always be able to change a bullying situation, it’s worth trying to improve your environment in a different way.
Offering their top tips, Jennie and Victoria advise being aware of everything that is happening around you – including how other people react to the bully and whether your reaction is proportionate. They also suggest reading your company’s HR policy and empower yourself with information, which can often be supportive.
‘Alternatively, if you feel that your HR department would place you in a perilous position – letting the bully know you have complained but affording you no protection – it is worth getting independent advice from an employment lawyer who can act as your advocate,’ they explain.
The Yes Man/Woman
This character is recognisable due to their eagerness to help the boss, which quite often can lead to unbalancing other relationships throughout the workplace.
Is this you?
If you have become stuck in a child-like behaviour and have stopped prioritising yourself, it’s likely this is you. After all, if you’re showing yourself no self-care, it’s unlikely you’ll earn it from your boss or colleagues.
‘Start by being assertive with yourself,’ Jennie and Victoria explain. ‘This will require you to acknowledge the fact that the situation in the office is not working for you.
They add: ‘Focus on your own work; remember why you were employed and what you are good at. When you feel drawn to look up and give a compliment, stop yourself.’
‘In doing this, note you are taking steps to care for yourself and build up your own self-respect and protect your vulnerability. Notice that others may register this behaviour and reward it with renewed friendship and respect.’