I’m finally a bonafide working woman. 1 month in, I can see why Jean Paul Sarte would say that “hell is other people”. In fact, I now understand why Jesus put so much emphasis on loving your neighbour and all that. Because he understood that if you can actually love the person in the neighbouring office or cubicle who runs marathons on your nerves from 9 till 5, you’re well on your way to becoming an almost perfect person.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of the working world is borderline unstable. I don’t know if it’s the hours, the short lunch breaks, or the shortage of annual leave, but working is almost like a daily invitation to a zoo of the weird and wonderful. Every day I’m discovering new things about human behaviour that leave me amazed and slightly terrified.
Given that I work in a profession where I’m never ‘off duty’, I have to be very careful about pinpointing any specific behaviour. So I’ll just let you know the 5 main types of people you’ll encounter at work:
1) The man/woman everyone is scared of.
There’s always one person at work who is like Scar from the Lion King. When they arrive, everything turns cold, a hush falls upon the room, pot plants start to wither and die, and all the babies start to whimper. Usually these people are known for their extremely short tempers and volatile moods. One minute they’re smiling at you, and offering you one of their Cadbury delights, approximately 43 seconds later you find your colleague sitting in the corner of the loo shaking and in tears because Scar told them to “run, run away and never return…”. I don’t have any tips for handling these people apart from offering up some deep psychological prayer on their behalf, because they usually have deep seated issues from childhood (I’m actually being deadly serious) that cause them to act in the way they do. And don’t eat the chocolates. They might be poisoned.
2) The suck up.
These people are usually junior colleagues. Their favourite word to your boss is ‘yes’ and their favourite word to you is ‘no’. They take great delight, in a similar way to a poodle, in panting at the feet of their owner and pawing their leg at every available opportunity, whilst biting the ankles of everyone else. Unlike a poodle, you can’t give them a good kick (because you’re a nice person and also because you don’t want be charged with assault), so the best way to handle them, as you would with a poodle is to give them little toys to keep them occupied. This might be in the form of a Kit Kat bar, or a cup from the water fountain. Basically, just find a way to keep a safe distance but still keep them on side at the same time. They can be a good source of information or your worst enemy.
3) The skiver.
This is the person who just can’t be bothered to do their job. They will pass on work to you. They will call in sick when they know you’re short staffed. They’ll do enough, but not enough. They are always on a ‘break’. They get into work late yet somehow manage to leave early. The temptation to be this person is often strong, especially if you don’t like your job. Don’t do it. Everyone will hate you and people will give you the dirty mug for your morning tea. The best way to deal with the skiver is to accidentally on purpose give them extra work to do. They’ll soon catch on.
4)The keen bean/overachiever
The opposite of the skiver, this person just loves their job way too much. They’re often closely connected to the suck up, or you’ll often find them combined in the same person. The keen bean takes great delight in not having a lunch break, not taking annual leave, and staying later than everyone else. If there is no more work to be done, keen beans will busy themselves finding novel and innovative ways to staple blank sheets of paper together. If you work in a law firm, the keen bean will leave work (late of course), and go and commit a crime just so that they can return and have another court case to work on. If you are a nurse, keen beans will stab themselves with the ward scissors so that they have somebody to bandage. If you’re a dustbin man, the keen been will empty a bin on the floor and refill it, so that they have another bin to empty. The best thing to do with keen beans is to ignore them. Unlike a real bean, it won’t shrivel and die without attention, but it will probably get promoted while you stay in your entry level position. Because the keen bean loves their job way more than you do.
5) The hidden gem.
The hidden gem is the work colleague you ignored for the first 6 months because you thought they were boring/weird/ smelly. Then one day….WHAM! You’re in a meeting and the suck up makes a smarmy remark (as usual intended to make everyone else look bad)… hidden gem retorts with the funniest wisecrack, but the suck up is too busy poodling to notice and everyone else is too busy scowling at the suck up. Your eyes meet with hidden gem. You both smile. You’ve found a new friend. Maybe work isn’t so bad after all, eh?