Because you have a job, you have agreed to spend around 40 hours of your time per week at your workplace and all that it entails. However, what many people fail to realize is that there's an element of employment that can be every bit as important as compensation, scheduling, and actual job duties...your co-workers.
That's right, the people you work with can have a huge impact on your experience on the job. You know how in the company of certain people, time seems to just fly by? Well, unfortunately, you rarely get to work around that type of person. More likely, you'll get to spend most of your waking hours in the company of people you would never even speak to for over 3 sentences voluntarily.
Coping with these people is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination...in fact, it's part of what you get paid for. (You probably won't find "refrain from brutally murdering someone you work with" in any official description of your job duties, but trust me, they frown upon it. Won’t look good on your resume and leaves the place short-staffed.)
If you find yourself somewhat challenged by the people you work with, you're not alone. It's actually quite common...much like the cold, including that there's not much you can do about it but deal until it's over. However, you can increase your ability to cope with it with the appropriate information about the people you'll soon be functionally married to.
To that end, what follows is a description of common office personality types and the best method for dealing with them (without violence). Since you can't arm yourself with a handgun to make your problems at work easier, arm yourself with knowledge and achieve close to the same effect. First up, your superiors…at least in their minds:
The Iron Fist- As the name implies, this person's domineering management style is his calling card. When dealing with this person, expect an overly authoritative demeanor, unnecessary displays of workplace influence, and a general feeling of being talked down to whenever he addresses you. You may think that you graduated middle school and left the principal behind years ago, but if you have the Iron Fist as your boss, think again.
An interesting note about this type of boss is that he often wields his office power with such vigor to compensate for control that he lacks elsewhere in life. Whether it’s family problems, financial worries beyond his control, or the possibility that his wife wonders why he can't display the same hardness in bed that he does at work, he likely has issues that he can only wish ended when the work day did.
Your job is to... let him have his false sense of power and control...it's all he really wants. Anything else, such as being punctual, respectful to your peers, or useful in any way during your time at work is secondary to the feeding of his ego. You don't have to actively contribute to his illusion, just don't be the one to burst his bubble and you should be fine.
The Invertibrate- This boss is pretty much the polar opposite of the Iron Fist we discussed earlier. He isn't actually interested in bossing people around, he just wants things to be peaceful at any expense. He is easily swayed, especially by an Iron Fist, but even by his subordinates in extreme cases. This can cause a somewhat confusing work environment where every decision made is just a well-timed shouting match from being changed. The Invertibrate isn't a bad person, just a bad boss. In fact, it's his desire to be a good person that makes him so unsuitable for the job.
Your job is to... assert yourself, but only where necessary. You see, this boss likely won't ask too much of you...he's too afraid of any possible reaction. Accordingly, follow his few instructions...odds are they're the essential ones, ones that he will likely be fired by someone above him for not having you follow. You don't want that. You might get a less malleable kind of boss as a replacement...if you couldn't even deal with the Invertibrate, who knows how you'll do with that.
The Idiot- Whether it's inexplicable tactical decisions that draw the suspicion of even the dimmest grunt, an unbearably inappropriate or underdeveloped sense of humor, a complete unwillingness to even entertain ideas that are not his own (or that he can't take credit for), a palpable feeling that the person believes he's the smartest person in any given room despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or any other flavor of management-sanctioned stupidity, there is one thing about this person that just about everyone in the office can agree on from one angle or another...this dude is a fucking idiot.
Your job is to... ignore him as much as possible. If you must acknowledge his existence, be sure that it is only about work-related matters. Any other topic should immediately terminate the conversation. Oh, and whatever you do, DO NOT get into an argument with him. He's an idiot. He'll drag you down to an idiotic level, and beat you on his home turf.
The Harem Head- This boss is less concerned with interoffice relations and more with sexual ones. With promises of promotions, prestige, and other perks, he lures attractive young professionals under his command like a snake charmer. He likely has a stable of willing corporate concubines at his disposal, who can be identified by looking at whose arrival/departure times, lunch breaks, and even vacation days conveniently sync up with his or are untracked altogether.
People have been giving up ass for financial considerations on the job since...well, jobs. (They call it "the world's oldest profession" for good reason. Some early people weren't particularly good at hunting or nesting, but they could lay on their backs or lick stuff just fine.) The Harem Head is well aware of this, and plays it to his maximum advantage.
Your job is to... not be physically attractive in any way...if you aren't, you will rarely if ever interact with him. If you have the awesome problem of looking good, your job becomes to make a decision about which way you're going to go regarding him early and stick with it. If you're going to get with his program, fine. If not, it’s also fine (and will involve much less lapping of pale leathery skin). Just be clear about the possibilities. It's respectful of the time and efforts of everyone involved.
The Cool Supe- She could be one of your most powerful allies in the war against losing your fucking mind in your workplace. The rare management type without the management attitude, her loose style of supervising is popular among the workers and often quite effective, as adult human beings can actually function quite well in menial tasks without constant intervention by higher-ups. This is the person to talk to if you want to ask to leave early, if you want to be 5 or 10 minutes late without an international incident, or if you want an extra lunch hour per day in which to work on your ebook.
Your job is to... keep this person on your side at all costs. Be friendly, buy them lunch occasionally, and generally go out of your way to make sure she knows how much you appreciate her not being a total dick.
The Big Boss- The undisputed top dog of the workplace, he's the one that even the other bosses kowtow to. Holding near-unlimited power and influence over the entire staff, everything that goes on in the building is under his jurisdiction. He prefers the big picture stuff like meeting new hires, approving employee holiday parties and golf to the menial day-to-day tasks of his caporegimes.
The buck stops with him, so even if you draw the ire of one of your other bosses over some petty issue, you'll still be in the picture if you're on his good side. However, if you find yourself out of favor with both him and the other bosses, then get called into his office, you may as well enter the room diagonally…your job is now most likely out the window.
Your job is to... see him as little as possible. Usually, a visit to his office means trouble. If you happen to see him around the office, do your best impression of a great employee and he'll probably leave you alone. As he is far too busy doing whatever it is high-level execs do to micromanage everyday office bullshit, he just wants to see that the person that belongs at the desk you're sitting at isn't severely fucking things up.
Think of an offensive lineman in football. you don't know many--if any--of their names, do you? That's how you know they're doing their jobs right...they only get brought up when they somehow fail. The Big Boss is much the same...if he doesn't know your name, you're probably doing something right.
YOUR ESTEEMED COLLEAGUES
The Talker- This person doesn't actually try to be annoying, but some people are just naturals. She feels the need to share each and every portion of a thought that crosses her mind, usually about things one has no expertise or interest in.
Her private affairs, current events, obscure television programs, random shallow musings, all are fair and fertile topics of one-sided conversation. It's like being forced to follow someone on Twitter in the matrix. She goes beyond dominating conversation to embodying it. If you're a great listener, a kindred spirit, a masochist or a mute, you'll find this person's company a treat. Everyone else might not like it so much.
Your job is to... tune them out as much as possible. Be cautious before completely telling them to shut the fuck up. True, they talk a lot, but every so often they say something of actual use or note. Like lottery tickets, the sheer amount of them that were worthless does not detract one cent from the value of the one winner. However, it is understood that selective listening can be difficult if not impossible to pull off, so just do the best you can. Earphones can help with raw volume of speech overload...so make use of them in an emergency (like, say, a hangover).
The Informant- As his name implies, he is the eyes and ears of management disguised as a normal, everyday salaryman. Expect him to nose up in every conversation that sounds reasonably interesting, especially any involving your superiors. This person takes office communication to a new level...and it's quite low.
Among the things Informants enjoy doing are reporting undetected latenesses, timing bathroom breaks, and even adding his co-workers on social networks in case they say anything about the bosses, in which case he will report it directly to them. Of course, these actions earn him the contempt of his peers...at least, those who have figured out who the Informant is, as they are known to be masters of camouflage.
Your job is to... figure out who this person is and avoid them at all costs.
The Slacker- Wherever you find work, you will not find the Slacker. He does almost nothing productive during his workday, even going entire weeks without doing any real work. The strange power of the Slacker lies in his ability to appear as if he were doing his job to any relevant observers, such as supervisors, managers, and the like. This feat is amazing to pretty much everyone except the person that actually ends up doing their work.
Your job is to... study this man and learn all you can from his zenlike approach to modern indentured servitude. If he can do what he does--or not do what he doesn't do--and still be employed, obviously he's doing something right.
Man-at-Arms (length)- This coworker, during the hours that you have no choice but to be around him, is actually a fairly decent guy around the workplace. In fact, you may find yourself wondering why it is that you don’t hang out in leisure time…until one day you decide to hang out after work and he finds a way to answer the question emphatically. Some people’s personalities just have short shelf lives…so to prevent spoilage, keep them in a cool, dry place, like at work.
Your job is to… keep it friendly at work, as long as you remember why it doesn’t go beyond that. After all, they can be legitimately okay people for hours at a time…that’s more than can be typed for most of the other folks on this list. It’s kind of like being in a zombie movie…you might not know most of the only survivors when you meet up, but you can all help each other and all of you are going to work together as long as necessary to keep any more humans from becoming flesh-eaters until you can get to a safe place…and yes, some of the survivors will turn.
Aight, there's a lot more to that chapter, but this ain't a charity function...well, kinda, a $15 donation will get you the free gift of the whole book. (It's just like a tote bag from a public access telethon.) Hopefully you enjoyed this selection from my first thesis on asshollectialism, "Fresh Uncensored Critical Knowledge for Your Life"...if not, fuck yourself (no acronym). Later, umf'ers!