The Psychology Behind Your Irritating Co-Workers

Of course, I have the best co-workers in the world at The Frisky. But let’s just say it hasn’t always been that way at other jobs. Oh, do I have stories. As some of us may have experienced, dysfunction in the work place is rampant. How many times have you wanted to respond to a passive-aggressive email with one simple sentence: “You need therapy.” No need to take it personally that your lazy co-worker took credit for all your hard work in that big meeting or that your boss chastised you for a spelling error. It’s not your fault. They are just acting out their childhood wounds. At least that’s what leadership coach Sylvia LaFair thinks. She believes office dysfunction is deep-rooted behavior learned during childhood. Sylvia offers a new technique to identify the childhood origins of bad work behavior and defuse harmful habits. The first step to having a less dysfunctional work environment, she believes, is becoming aware of the patterns and figuring out how you are enacting them or feeding into them. After the jump, a few of the behavior types identified in Sylvia LaFair’s book, Don’t Bring It To Work, and the dynamics from whence they came. This should be a fun office game for the day: uncover your co-workers’ childhood wounds.

  • Persecutor: This person micromanages or abuses others. You probably have a whole slew of passive-aggressive emails from them clogging your inbox at this very moment. Why? They grew up with abuse or neglect.
  • Denier: The denier pretends that problems just don’t exist. You: “The company is about to go bankrupt.” Them: “Bonuses for everyone!” Chances are their family feared talking about anything unpleasant.
  • Avoider: When the going gets tough at work, they get going. You’ll see them running off to an out-of-office “meeting” every time bad news needs to be delivered or a deadline is about to be missed. It’s because their parents were judgmental and disconnected.
  • Super Achiever: You may also refer to this person as “Brown Nose” McGee. They are driven to excel at everything from stapling packets to closing a million-dollar deal. If you want to send them into a state of lunacy, just imply that they made a mistake. So why are they always making you look bad? To make up for some family shame or tragedy.
  • Martyr: This person does it all. All of their work and all of yours. They come early every morning and stay late every night. But they never shut up about it. They are just trying to please parents who gave up their dreams so they could succeed.

Do any of these types sound familiar to you? [Wall Street Journal]