Problem People in the Office & How to Deal With Them

There are a lot of types of people you encounter in the work place. There are, of course, the common trouble makers like the Complainer, the Sniper, and others that exist in every work place. There are a few more types of problem people in the office too. I will walk you through five of my favorite and give you some ideas on how to deal with them in your work place.

I Am So Busy

The “I Am So Busy” person can be heard telling anyone and everyone how busy they are. He spends most of his time complaining about being busy, but never seems to be doing anything other than complaining about how busy he is. Work may get done, but it is often delivered at odd hours (say, late at night) and is usually not very thorough. The excuse? “I am just so busy!” This person likes the attention and feels secure in being such an indispensable person. Ask around and you will probably find out that they do very little in reality.

How do you deal with an “I Am So Busy” person? Ask this person to tell you when you he will have free time. Work with his schedule and offer to free time up for him. This usually will have him scrambling to tell you that he will find a way, but you should stick to it. Keep telling him you know how busy he is and you want to help. Do not let up. You will quickly find that the “I Am So Busy” person starts to get his work done on time. And if he really is that busy, well, then he will actually appreciate you stepping in to free up time for him to work on your project.

I Am Not Disengaged

The “I Am Not Disengaged” person is totally detached from what is going on and really does not care that much what happens, but does not want anyone to know that. Often this person is in a position of some authority, so he wants to appear as if he is contributing. He is probably going to retire soon or simply is getting a paycheck while really focused on other things. In meetings, he is the one that will bring up past decisions for reconsideration just so he can then make a decision on them—looking like he contributed. He often brings up esoteric concerns or throws out something that will force people to get back to him with more information. When they do, he quickly makes a decision which is often what the original recommendation was. Importantly, he looks like a contributor without actually having to have done anything.

Dealing with the ‚Äö√Ñ√∫I Am Not Disengaged‚Äö√Ñ√π is really easy. Attribute your ideas and thinking to this person. Even if it is not true, but giving some credit to this person it makes him appear as if he has contributed. He will not derail or sabotage himself and he will not need to because you have already made it appear as if he was the inspiration and driving force behind the project, even when he wasn’t.

I Need to Know Everything

Control freaks fit this category. They need to know everything that is going on even if it has nothing at all to do with them or their job. The “I Need to Know Everything” gets defensive if she is left out of conversations, does not know the inside details of a project, or feels she is not in the loop. This person is not really looking to contribute so much as she is looking to be in the know.

“I Need to Know Everything” people are really insecure. They fear being caught unawares (probably because it happened before) or worry that they are being left out of the important stuff. The easiest way to deal with them is to just start including them on all emails and meetings (especially if it creates a meeting conflict—they love this for some odd reason). They will be so overwhelmed they will not actually read the emails or attend the meetings, but they will feel involved and will stop bothering you.

I Never Deliver

The “I Never Deliver” person is the one to fear. This person never delivers, yet they always happily agree to the work. When he fails to deliver, he offers no excuse. Eventually he might get to it, but there is only a 50/50 chance of that happening. Often, he is a really nice guy and the “I wasn’t able to get to your project,” conversation is delivered with a smile.

The “I Never Deliver” person is difficult to get mad at because he does not let you know what the real issue is. He does not give a reason for not delivering so you are in the dark on how to approach the problem. The best way to deal with him is to check in constantly. Stop by his desk, schedule reviews, both formal and informal, and just stay on him. Because he is such a nice guy he will not complain you are micro managing or being overbearing, and you will get your project work completed.

I Have No Idea What is Going On

This is perhaps my favorite person. The “I Have No Idea What is Going On” person is rather fun to watch—expect when they happen to be in a decision making position, then it can be a bit dicey. This person often has the deer in headlights look when asked a question. He will often ask for clarification and then essentially repeat back the question in a form of a statement. If he has been around for a while, he will often say something that no one has any idea what it means. There is usually a long pause after a statement like this, then everyone just moves on (and he just thinks, “Whew, got through that.”). He is so oblivious that no one wants to follow up because they know it will just be more gibberish in response and down the rabbit hole everyone goes.

“I Have No Idea What is Going On” people are usually in over their heads, either because of workload or simply not being in a position suited to them. Fortunately, dealing with them is easy. You can prepare them by giving them their response in advance or by asking leading questions. They will be more than grateful for the solution to be offered to them. In fact, they are quit skilled at this. It is important to not put them on the spot without giving them the answer. This person will often come to rely on you, giving you a lot of power if they are a decision maker.

There are a lot of problem people in the office. Most of them can be rather frustrating. Try following some of the tips I provided above to stay above the fray and get things done. Good luck… you’ll need it!