Thursday, February 16, 2012

10 People Who Will Drain Energy From Your Company

Every organization, no matter how small, has one or more people who are quite simply obnoxious, and they drain energy from everyone and can strangle your company. Sometimes they are also intellectually brilliant, or closely related to the boss, so there is no easy way out.

In fact, they may even be the boss. So if you find this article taped to your desk, it may be time to look in the mirror. At any rate, if you are stuck working in an office, at least you deserve some clues on how to recognize the different types, and know it’s time to run:

  1. “I knew that was going to happen.” This know-it-all has an answer for everything, and is proud to let you know, always after the fact, that they actually predicted ahead of time every calamity that has befallen the world and the office.

  2. “You wouldn’t believe my latest conquest.” For the loudmouth, the word ‘discreet’ isn’t part of his dictionary at all. His conversations at the water cooler, or on the phone, always seem to be audible across the whole office.

  3. “I’m so angry I could scream.” In my view, people with short fuses and anger issues ought to be banned from the workplace. People are always “walking on eggshells” to avoid creating another outburst, and office tension stays at an unhealthy high level.

  4. “Have you heard the one about…” Every office has the joker, and he particularly likes to shock people with crude or off-color stories. He doesn’t seem to take anything or anyone seriously, and especially loves his pranks on shy people who blush easily.

  5. “I’m so busy, I don’t have time…” The whiner will always be complaining about how busy they are, and how many hours they put in, but you can never quite see anything they have accomplished. But they always seem to find time for talking loudly on the phone, or discussing the latest gossip.

  6. “I have no life.” Woe is me, and I’ll be happy to tell you the gory details of all my lost loves, my amazing string of illnesses, and the strife in my family. These people will definitely suck the energy out of everyone.

  7. “I’m so worried about the project.” Always in a state of panic, these people bring stress to the whole office, just by their hand-wringing, hovering over people’s desks, and nagging everyone to double-check for the dire consequences of possible mistakes.

  8. “I need a moment of your time.” We all love to help people, but when the request happens ten times every day, and for the same trivial issue, your blood pressure is bound to go up. It’s not efficient to have two people doing every job.

  9. “I’m surrounded by idiots.” This person has an ego the size of a mountain, and won’t listen to anyone long enough to assess whether they are a genius or an idiot. In the long run, their statement will be true, because all rational people will have run away.

  10. “This world isn’t fair.” This type is often associated with Gen-Y, but some people seem permanently afflicted as they get passed over for promotions. As Bill Gates said a while back to a high school graduation crowd “Life is not fair – get used to it.”

I’m sure I missed a few obnoxious types here, so help me out with additions, and tell me how many of these you have in your office. I wish I could give you specific solutions and antidotes, but that’s a bit tougher, and maybe the subject for another article. In general, survival requires large doses of tolerance, patience, and the ability to turn your ears off.

If it’s your company, you can’t just ignore it. If you recognize several of these types on your team, you need to do something now, before they have sucked the life and energy out of your dream. Tolerance for you is not an option. People will follow your leadership, or lack of it.

Marty Zwilling




  1. Then there's the person who always has to get someone else to "do it", whatever "it" is. S/He can't unjam the photocopier / replace the bottle on the water dispenser / change the toner in the printer / reboot the router / etc etc etc because s/he doesn't know how. Even after years of working in the same office, s/he has still not bothered (or refuses) to learn how to do these things, because it's easier to leave it for someone else to deal with.

  2. This is really a great list of problematic attitudes, and they sure get in the way of a positive environment for getting things done. But as I look at it, I realize that at different times I have been guilty of all of these myself, although on the whole I really try to be positive, patient, and tolerant. I think sometimes the way to address problematic attitudes in others is to "own" them in ourselves and demo how to spin it around into something positive. For example I might say, "When I look at this, my first take is to say "It's just not fair", but I'd like to see if there is something I could do to make the outcome better." Or, I think to myself, "I'm surrounded by idiots" but then I remind myself that if they are all onto something stupid, maybe I am missing something, Anyway, that's my take on it. But I really like your piece!

    1. This is so true! We all (or perhaps I should only speak for myself) have been in each of those categories to one degree or another. Even by making a list of people who drag down the company seems to place us in a category of judging all the staff as inferior to the boss. The list should be seen as a list of behaviors that most everyone exhibits at sometime. When it becomes a pathology is when an employee or supervisor becomes well known for the behavior.

  3. Oh dear -- I used to have a coworker like #8. She would take up our limited IT personnel's time for things like how to adjust her screen brightness or how to synch her iPod to her office computer's iTunes -- things she could easily have looked up herself or shouldn't be doing at work anyway -- and the rest of us had to sit there and wait while our legitimate concerns weren't being addressed. It's amazing how one person can have such an effect on an entire office!

  4. One that is a problem in new and established companies is the person who repeats everything. This is a person who destroys moral because no one feels safe having an honest and open conversation.

  5. How about the Passive-Aggressive? I had a boss once who, rather than sitting down with me (or anyone) to discuss issues would literally stomp around without speaking for HOURS, apparently waiting for someone to notice (as if you could miss it) and ask what was wrong, only to subsequently EXPLODE. I don't work for her anymore and we get along much better now!

  6. I used to work with Mr. Ego. I thought he was very smart until I got to know him a little better, then I started to question why he would make simple things look so complicated, Well! his EGO was in charged.I guess the harder he made things out to be the more idiotic we seem, busting his EGO.Very good list, I saw all of this personalities in action at my last job, it was too much for me so I went my own way. I must admit that I was the one that needed someone to fix the jam on the copy machine, I even do that at home. I guess I have some work to do not drain the energy!

  7. One that is a problem in new and established companies is the person who repeats everything. This is a person who destroys moral because no one feels safe having an honest and open conversation.

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