Jerks at Work! 12 Annoying Personalities

Jerks at work!

You can't always choose the people that you work with but there are strategies you can engage when dealing with them. Theo Winter, one of Scope Vision's most loved guest bloggers previously designed an inforgraphic in the style of Little Miss / Mr Men explaining the intricacies of 12 of the most annoying people we may meet at work. With Theo's permission, our blog explores practical strategies you can engage when interacting with them in the workplace.

Jerks at work! 12 annoying personalities

Infographic courtesy of Theo Winter

Infographic courtesy of Theo Winter

Strategies to survive jerks at work!

Whilst not all of the characters should actually be considered jerks, it is helpful to explore how best to survive each of the personalities when we encounter them in the workplace. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and as Stephen Covey attests ‘Strength lies in differences, not in similarities’. Appreciating that some of the personalities can be a challenge, here are some practical tips and conversations that you can engage in as you navigate an interaction with them.

Little Miss Chatterbox

Little Miss Chatterbox may be encountered anywhere; your desk, her desk or in the corridor. There’s no need to be rude, just give her short answers and responses. Be polite but advise that you really can’t chat now engaging in one of the following phrases:

  • ‘I’d love to have a chat Little Miss Chatterbox, let’s have a drink after work.’
  • ‘I feel uncomfortable talking about Mabel behind her back, so if you have something to say to her, why don’t you go and have a chat. I’m sure she would value hearing that directly from you.’
  • ‘Wow, a couple of the details you shared made me feel uncomfortable, I value our work relationship but I think those conversations are best kept for a coffee outside of work hours!’
  • ‘I wish I had time to hear the rest of your story Little Miss Chatterbox but I have a phone call that I have to return. Please don’t think me rude but I have to get back to my desk. Chat later.’

Mr Chatterbox

Just as with Little Miss Chatterbox aim to be polite and succinct. Always be respectful and genuine when engaging in dialogue. If approached by Mr Chatterbox consider replying with one of the following phrases:

  • ·‘I wish I had time to chat, don’t think me rude but I need to get back to my work.’
  • ‘Thanks for the update; I’d love to hear more later but right now I have to get back to my desk.’

Little Ms Recognition Junkie

Personality inventories such as DISC attest that some employees respond well to recognition and remain motivated and focused at work when they feel that their efforts are valued. If your Little Ms Recognition is one of them, consider starting a conversation with any of the following:

  • ‘I appreciate having you on our team Little Ms Recognition Junkie; your efforts are sincerely valued.’
  • 'Have you considered mentoring Mr Opportunity? He would really benefit from spending time with you.’
  • 'Your enthusiasm is contagious! Keep up the great example.’

Mr Whinger

We may need to encourage self-awareness of behaviour and mindset, but there’s no need to be an ogre. Assertively but not aggressively consider saying:

  • ‘So what have you done about that? Who have you spoken to?’
  • ‘Have you thought about it this way….?’
  • ‘Have you heard of Edward De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats? If you look at the issue from different viewpoints there are other opportunities to explore for the team.’
  • ‘What’s the first thing you need to do to make it happen?’
  • ‘If 5 minutes of my time would help you brainstorm how to move forward, I am free at 11.00 am for a coffee.’

Mr Forgetful

According to Charan, Drotter and Noel, Authors of ‘The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company’, the majority of the population struggle to organise themselves. Time management, efficiency and effectiveness is a choice and often an acquired skill set. When people don’t hold the necessary competencies consider engaging one of the following phrases:

  • ‘Let me task that to you through Outlook and you can keep me informed of your progress’
  • ‘Great idea! Is that on your task list? Write it down.
  • ‘Have you prioritised that? I know how full your workload is.’ 

Mr Smug Smart Guy

Often loved and revered by many, the office smart guy can unwittingly find himself in detention. Mr Smug Smart Guy needs to learn that whilst his humour and sarcasm may be appreciated outside of the office, there are those at work he offends. Take him aside for a genuine conversation, or consider using one of the following phrases; he will probably appreciate it:

  • 'Team value Smug. Hilarious! But we’re working right now. Can we save those remarks for the carpark?’
  • ‘Team value Smug. Work is a team sport; don’t forget that.’
  • ‘Smug, I know that you didn’t mean to offend Mabel, but the consequence of your comment was that you actually did. It may pay you to take her for a coffee and show your human side. Let her know what you meant.’

Mr Prankster

Whilst seemingly acceptable amongst friends, pranks in the office often contravene workplace legislation. The best approach to take is a proactive one. Consider saying:

  • ‘Team value Mr Prankster. Not funny or appropriate.’
  • ‘I appreciate that you think that’s funny but it’s not appropriate in the workplace.’

Little Miss Murders-the-English-Language

Just think Vicky Pollard, Little Britain, ‘Yeah but, no but, yeah but…’ Without passing judgement on intelligence and upbringing, we have to remind them of the organisation that they are representing. Consider trying one of the following:

  • ‘LOL…whilst you crack me up, remember we have to portray a professional image, I’m not sure that language fits with our brand.’
  • ‘How interesting!? Can you think of any other ways we could say that?’
  • ‘Whilst I would love it if you would say that to me; I’m not too sure our clients would be impressed with it.’
  • ‘Can you think of a way to rephrase that so that there’s no confusion on behalf of the recipient?’ 

Little Miss Sunshine

It’s interesting to think that being around happy people actually makes some people uncomfortable. With attitude being contagious, I would be encouraging more of the same. I fail to see how Little Miss Sunshine can be categorised as a jerk! Potentially annoying if your name is Debbie Downer, but I would still tell her:

  • ‘I love that you love Mondays! We need more of that!’
  • ‘Little Miss Sunshine – You turn my frown upside down! Thank you, what a great way to start the day!’

Mr Grumpy Sarcastic Guy

Negative, offensive and increasingly draining, Mr Grumpy Sarcastic Guy often finds himself alone. Just as with Mr Whinger we need to explore strategies to increase his level of self-awareness. Assertively but not aggressively say:

  • ‘Smile Mr Grumpy! Today’s a new day; let’s attack it with optimism!’
  • ‘Your witty repertoire is wasted on everyone; perhaps you should save it for your network of friends who appreciate your humour.’
  • ‘Is there another way of looking at it Mr Grumpy, or describing it that would enable others to better see your point of view.’

Little Miss Sings-a-Lot

Lyrical and musical, Miss Sings-a-Lot finds a noteworthy reference to all that she does. If her singing is out of tune or her song choices inappropriate, then why not approach it by saying:

  • ‘I love that you love to sing; remember there’s always a time and a place.’

Mr Obvious

Whilst somewhat annoying, there is no need to be rude. Sometimes Mr Obvious genuinely believes that others don’t understand and need advising. Try any of the following phrases on him:

  • ‘Thoughtful addition Mr Obvious; now let’s get on with the day!’
  • ‘Too true Mr Obvious; we appreciate your observations!’
  • ‘Once again Mr Obvious you shared another worthy insight; what would we do without you?’

Annoying or value adding? It takes all kinds!

Just as in any relationship, there are going to be challenges. We are better to celebrate team differences, than we are to become hysterical. So many factors make up a human being, (ethnicity, values, interests, emotional intelligence, skills and life experiences to name but a few). During the 40+ hours we spend together it is far better to synergise and bring value to a team than it is to be a conflict contributor and miss an opportunity to succeed.

We hope you found this blog useful and would love to hear your thoughts on how you best prepare to spend time with your jerks at work!
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Maria-Jane Satterthwaite

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 29, MJ knew her journey was going to be unique! 

No way was she going to waste any of her years working 9-5 under poor leadership! She seized the opportunity to become an independent worker; starting her own Registered Training Organisation, Scope Vision.

MJ’s curiosity into what drives people, and businesses, to achieve success has been the passion recognised in her award-winning business. The drive to continue to train and embrace lifelong learning has been her key to success, and she wants to see this happen for others.

20 years on, the passion and curiosity she’s used to shape the businesses she works with, and her longevity in these relationships have inspired her to think about the future of work; what this will mean for workers in general and indeed her own business. Find out more about MJ