12 people who can ruin your day (and your workplace culture)

Ever dread going into the office because you don’t feel like encountering someone there who drives you nuts with rude behavior? Incivility in the workplace certainly can put a damper on one’s spirits, especially if it happens often.

But inappropriate behavior does more than frustrate individuals. Businesses suffer from the problems incivility creates – damaged relationships, conflict between departments, reduced collaboration, poor results, and turnover, to name a few. Managers attuned to which staff members may be exhibiting questionable behavior and taking prompt measures to rectify it spare their company potentially dire consequences.

What should leaders look out for? In her webinar “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?!: How to Reduce Incivility & Create a Professional Atmosphere,” Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D. (also known as Your Office Coach), describes 12 types of “incivility carriers” within four basic categories whose actions put a damper on other’s days. See if you recognize any of them on your staff:

Category 1: Remote Rudeness

  • Email Bombers. These cowards hurl insults through email to avoid face-to-face conversations. They lack the maturity to initiate a productive one-on-one meeting about what they’re feeling and instead express anger through the “safety” of this outlet.
  • Cyber-junkies. These people use technology to engage in improper or insulting behavior. They may text during your conversation or remain attentive to their tablet instead of focusing at a meeting.

  • Non-responders. These folks inconvenience others by failing to respond to emails or phone messages. This negligence wastes the sender’s time by requiring further action to track them down for an answer.

Category 2: Dealers in Drama

  • Gossips. These chatterboxes enjoy sharing inappropriate information about others in the office. While such “knowledge” may make them feel superior, this type of talk can damage reputations and relationships as well as decrease workplace morale.

  • Snobs. These insecure people make themselves feel important by excluding others. Shutting out colleagues leads to hurt feelings and can prevent teamwork.

  • Office Divas. These drama queens (or kings) believe their personal needs deserve special attention. Their narcissism annoys colleagues, their overly emotional responses waste time, and their oversharing makes others uncomfortable.

Category 3: Childish Adults

  • Pouters. These fearful people indirectly express unhappiness by treating others coldly. They won’t let things go, but they also refuse to talk about matters. Bottom line — nothing gets resolved.

  • Screamers. These childish folks attempt to get their way by throwing tantrums. Such a drastic reaction puts those around them on-edge and eager to avoid contact.

  • Boundary Violators. These busybodies ask intrusive questions or make inappropriate personal comments. Colleagues get annoyed and sometimes offended by their desire to stick their nose into everything or push beyond common norms of office interaction.

Category 4: Legal Risks

  • Jokers & Frat Boys (though they’re not always men). These immature people play inappropriate pranks or make oafish remarks. They may claim to simply be having fun or lightening the mood, but their words and acts can sting and embarrass.

  • Closet Bigots. These people direct thinly-veiled insults to those in other demographic groups. Their victims can feel unwelcome, hurt, or even threatened.

  • Sexual Predators. These people engage in offensive touching or make suggestive remarks. They might send lewd messages or pictures, try to initiate physical contact, or comment inappropriately on someone’s appearance.

How to complain about coworkers

While workers hope that management discovers rude behavior and acts to stop it, even attentive bosses miss signs or aren’t aware of something going on without it being drawn to their attention. Staff members whose patience is running thin may wish to take matters into their own hands before every workday becomes a ruined one.

McIntyre offers the following suggestions on how to seek resolution:

  1. Try to talk to your coworker directly. The person may not realize she’s offending anyone and stop the bothersome behavior.
  2. Use group solutions for group problems. Don’t offer to be the designated messenger for a problem affecting multiple people. Rather, approach the rude person (or management, if seeking help) with others. And if nobody else seems bothered besides you, reconsider whether it’s worth pursuing at all.
  3. Only go to the boss with business issues. Bosses hate coworker squabbles. Express the concern in terms that show how the coworker’s actions affect productivity, customer relations, safety, or similar valued measure.
  4. Consider the management point of view. Leaders may view the person in question in a different light than you do.
  5. Lose the emotion and focus on facts. Stay calm.
  6. Decide what you want your boss to do. Don’t dump the problem in her lap. Instead, offer a reasonable course of action.
  7. If you can’t find a business issue, let it go.

Are you ruining someone’s day?

One last thing as part of the effort to restore workplace harmony: Evaluate your own behavior on a regular basis. If you see yourself in one or more of the descriptions listed earlier, commit to change!