Nearly every workplace has them: the Naysayer, who dismisses team members’ ideas; the Spotlight Stealer, who claims credit for a colleague’s efforts; and other annoying coworkers who make collaboration difficult. Following are six professionals whose irritating behaviors and irksome attitudes prevent them from forming productive relationships at work — and what you should to do avoid following in their footsteps:
1. The Naysayer. This office dweller delights in shooting down ideas. Even during “blue sky” brainstorming sessions, where all suggestions are to be contemplated with an open mind, the Naysayer immediately pooh-poohs any proposal that challenges the status quo.
The right approach: Because great solutions often rise from diverse opinions, withhold comment — and judgment — until the appropriate time. Moreover, be tactful and constructive when delivering criticism or alternative viewpoints.
2. The Spotlight Stealer. There is definitely an “I” in “team” according to this glory seeker, who tries to take full credit for collaborative efforts and impress higher-ups. This overly ambitious corporate climber never heard a good idea he wouldn’t pass off as his own.
The right approach: Win over the boss and colleagues by being a team player. When receiving kudos, for instance, publicly thank everyone who helped you. “I couldn’t have done it without …” is a savvy phrase to remember.
3. The Buzzwordsmith. Whether speaking or writing, the Buzzwordsmith sacrifices clarity in favor of showcasing an expansive vocabulary of cliched business terms. This ineffective communicator loves to “utilize” — never just “use” — industry-specific jargon and obscure acronyms that muddle messages. Favorite buzzwords include “synergistic,” “actionable,” “monetize,” and “paradigm shift.”
The right approach: Be succinct. Focus on clarity and minimize misunderstandings by favoring direct, concrete statements. If you’re unsure whether the person you are communicating with will understand your message, rephrase it, using “plain English.”
4. The Inconsiderate Emailer. Addicted to the “reply all” function, this “cc” supporter clogs colleagues’ already-overflowing inboxes with unnecessary messages. This person also marks less-than-critical emails as “high priority” and sends enormous attachments that crash unwitting recipients’ computers.
The right approach: Break the habit of using email as your default mode of communication, as many conversations are better suited for quick phone calls or in-person discussions. The benefit? The less email you send, the less you’re likely to receive.
5. The Interrupter. The Interrupter has little regard for others’ peace, quiet or concentration. When this person is not entering your work area to request immediate help, the Interrupter is in meetings loudly tapping on a laptop, fielding calls on a cell phone, or initiating off-topic side conversations.
The right approach: Don’t let competing demands and tight deadlines trump basic common courtesy. Simply put, mind your manners to build healthy relationships at work.
6. The Stick in the Mud. This person is all business all of the time. Disapproving of any attempt at levity, the constant killjoy doesn’t have fun at work and doesn’t think anyone else should either.
The right approach: Have a sense of humor and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself once in awhile. A good laugh can help you build rapport, boost morale, and deflate tension when working under stressful situations.
It’s fairly easy to spot the qualities that make the above individuals irritating — at least when the behaviors are displayed by others. It can be a challenge to recognize when you exhibit them yourself. You may not realize, for instance, that you always pepper your communications with industry- or company-specific jargon, even when speaking with new employees or outside contacts. Though you may not be a full-fledged Interrupter or Stick in the Mud, take care to avoid heading down their paths.
The best advice: Remember common courtesy and act toward others as you want them to act toward you.
Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. For more information about our professional services, please visit rhi.com. For additional workplace articles and podcasts, visit workvine.com.