Work Would be Great Without the Coworkers

RED # 18355 64-NA-193The French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre once famously said, “Hell is other people.” I’m not sure who poor old (unfortunate) Jean-Paul’s neighbors, friends, or coworkers (people who work at the same place you do) were, but obviously they were not exactly ideal (perfect; the best possible).

There’s no question (no doubt) that getting along with other people can be difficult, especially when you are at your job. A recent article tried to look on the bright side (focus on the positive) of bothersome (causing trouble) coworkers and suggest ways that these types of people can actually be helpful. I’m not sure if I’m buying that argument (am convinced; agree), but I thought I’d talk about a few common terms used for these difficult types of coworkers in the U.S. Perhaps you know someone who fits (is similar to) one of these descriptions:

  • A social butterfly is a person who likes to talk a lot, be around other people, attend parties and other social events, and meet and know a lot of people.
  • A gossip is someone who likes to talk about other people, even if what he says isn’t true. You can have a social butterfly who just likes to chat (talk informally), but who may also be a gossip.
  • A workaholic is someone who works too much, and is always thinking about work, even when not working.
  • Malcontents are people who are generally unhappy and who may find ways to do things they are not supposed to do, or may express their unhappiness in other ways.
  • Someone who is passive-aggressive is someone who shows her unhappiness in small ways, rather than confronting (meeting face-to-face or openly) the person who is making her unhappy. A passive-aggressive person might misplace (lose temporarily) important papers, not return your phone calls, or “forget” to do the things she promised to do for you. So, it’s possible for someone to be a malcontent who is passive-aggressive. Even worse, this person could be a workaholic who is a passive-aggressive malcontent!
  • A narcissist is someone who believes everything should be focused on him or her, believing his or her own ideas, views, and beliefs are the most important. A person who is a narcissist might attract people who are suck-ups.
  • A suck-up is willing to say or do things — such as compliment someone a lot or say how great he is — to get an advantage in the workplace.
  • Backstabbers are people who pretend to be friendly with you, but make critical (disapproving) comments or do things to harm you when you’re not around.

Who do you think are the most disruptive (interfere with your work or cause the most problems) where you work: social butterflies, gossips, workaholics, narcissists, malcontents, suck-ups, backstabbers, or passive-aggressive people?

– Jeff

Photo Credit: Photograph of the Division of Classification and Cataloging

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26 Responses to Work Would be Great Without the Coworkers

  1. emiliano says:

    There are these kind of jewelleries every place you could be working and every one of them are really a good piece
    to be off from them if it could be possible but some time it is not.
    I think one of the most disruptive could be the passive-agressive that usually is also adorn with other virtues like
    gossip and suck-up.

    Working in a large place for years, being with dozens of chaps and women every day I have met every kind of these
    jewelleries inside the office, but what is even worst could be that this kind of people usually have the hability of
    going up from their position and get what they really want just to be a boss because in fact they cannot do another
    thing as gossip, suck-up, or backstabber.
    The common rule should be that fair workers or persons don´t get anything more than too much work every moment.

    My best dear Jeff, you are a fair good worker without any of these attributes that you have mentioned above, that´s for sure.

    Take care of this kind o people.


  2. Dan says:

    Hello everyone,

    Thank you Jeff that is interesting and funny. While reading your post I had the faces of my coworkers popping up in my brain.

    At the moment in my team I have the gossip one and another one that I would put into the category of slacker.

    I have been working as a factory worker since February 1987 and I have seen so many people coming and going.

    I am not saying I witnessed everything, but I have seen a lot of types.

    Something I would like to share with you guys, is, what I believe could be a good system to dealing with these kind of situations.

    Now, I watch tons of videos on You Tube, and at times I listen to talks by Buddhist monks.

    He said something I kind of like, which is what follow:

    On a piece of paper draw a line. On the left side write down 10 negative things about your wife, coworker, friend or whatever.

    On the right side write 10 positive things.

    After that, take the left side and throw it away, and keep the right side and every once in a while read that.

    I like that idea, even if I have not put that into practice yet.

    We tend to only see the negative side of others, and often forget about our own. Isn’t that true?.


  3. emiliano says:

    A piece of paper, a line, at the right side all the negative things about a subject, a place, a decision, a trip, or which ever other matter
    you need to think on.
    On the right side all the positive things of the same subject, decision or question.

    Read all carefully, think on all the negative and the positive things about the matter you need to have a resolution and act accordingly
    with the result, or not, but you already know the PROS AND CONTRAS ( in Spanish) of the subject.

    I have done that execise several times along my life, but never about a person, I love or want the person or not, to me that is enough.

    Cuca an me are watching a new TV serial “Breaking Bad” (one of the best I could remember) and on the second or third episode the
    protagonist take a paper and make a list that way. It could be one of the few occasions I have watched that on the TV., he has taken
    a man he thinks wants to kill him, he cannot advise the police and have to decide if he kill the man or not, so take a paper and write
    all the negative and the positive things of taken his resolution.

    I am not going to tell you the end, see the serial that is incredible good.

    Love to all. emiliano

  4. Dan says:


    I was wondering whether those are terms for describing both male and female workers.

    Luckily, in my department there are no women, otherwise would be chaos, if you know what I mean.

    Between women I have seen the B@#£$ type. Sorry, but I cannot think one other term for describing those.


  5. emiliano says:

    Human real stories:

    I love what Cuca tells us about the themes or stories that she has, itself, to make life easier, sleep, do not think about their future, not thinking about their disease, multiple sclerosis , that have no cure.
    Ultimately we could all, we know that we must die soon, today, tomorrow, or in a few years. Get sick if we are healthy, and if we ailments, with more reason to live today the present.
    Cuca gives us a practical example of our destructive thoughts away and have incentives to entertain our intellect.
    She tells us nice or comical real stories of the men and women who were living hundred of years ago and all of them are so interesting that have a great success
    in the “gatufo´s blog”, till the point some time emiliano/gatufo. is jealous with her exit.

    (it could be good to put some of them here in the ESL blog with Jeff´s permiss that sure he gives me)


    Second and most important point, reflect on what we are humans.
    Yes, the second point to ponder here is much more difficult and painful than the first.

    What happens to human beings? No second day someone dies not massacred, murdered, raped, by one or more other human beings.
    Humans beings themselves massacred by fellow like them.

    The other living things of this world kill to eat, or to survive, we kill us humans?
    Which purpose or we have in our minds to assassinate each other. To crush the weak, the innocent, invent the worst destructive weapons imaginable.
    Was started with a stone, a stick, a jawbone of an ox or lamb, and so have been used increasingly, knives, swords, spears, arrows, maces, fire, stones, boiling oil, rifles, guns, planes, missiles and even gas mass murder our neighbors.

    It is a malignant virus that is within our existence that makes us so aggressive, violent, butchers, with ourselves and our neighbors?
    It is said that God made us in his image and likeness, that mystery is to doubt amazing and frankly, can not be that the image or likeness of God, the supreme being all goodness, you can be the man throughout his existence. Evil, murders, wars, famine and so continue.
    Humans never learn?

    Goodness is inside the human soul, of course, thankfully, but there are many doses of evil, violence, mindless aggression leads to kill our neighbors that we do not know, that finally, since such an attitude leads repeatedly million times, today, yesterday, and thousands of years before.

    We have the gift of speech but not talk to our neighbors, our brothers, we can write and we do not, we can reason and not reason. Simply kill to impose our criteria, for fun, for amusement, for simple and clear evil. And most of the time by ambition, power and money.
    We forget that we die, sooner than later, and to live well and in peace treasure not need wealth, power and hatred.

    The world is plunged into extreme violence of the human race, as always, destroys itself and other living things, as long as all this for what purpose? I myself look inside myself and I know I can be violent in other circumstances, in other religious or dictatorial environments. Nobody can understand what is happening today, yesterday, or tomorrow. We’ll finish everything that exists? Could be.

    I have no explanation for this, nobody does, extreme good and evil that is the human being. Good Samaritan, good father, good mother, and cruel murderer simultaneously if need be.

    Who can understand?

    More to the questions “to be or not to be that is the question” or “who I am, where I come to where I’m going”, we might think that we do so much damage to our neighbors and ourselves, while we are charitable, solidarity patients.

    Frankly it is very difficult to understand ourselves.

    But life, death, kindness, sadism and violence continue today in any part of the globe, and particularly in certain areas called “hot” of a lifetime. They fight, they kill, die innocent and this continues more.
    Happen as usual, about the last years in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, and many other countries.

    Well, frequently I think on these subjects, but what could be done?
    Humans are what they are along history, destroy everything they touch but even kill their humans brother without reason and any profit to their souls or
    the kind of life it is supposed to have.

    History follows always in the same way, the world if full with last examples of wars, destructions and pain.


    This ESL site is the land of peace, thank you to all of you. emiliano

  6. Betty says:

    Thanks Dear Jeff

    I tend to agree with your title “Work Would be Great Without the Coworkers”, especially if we have to spend time together with Backstabbers, gossip, malcontents, narcissist, passive-aggressive, social butterfly, suck-up and workaholic.

    In fact, these kinds of people don’t just exist in our work place, they are everywhere – at home, at work, even a stranger like a sales person could suddenly tells you how horrible her mother-in-law is.

    There is a saying in Hong Kong: one type of rice feeds hundred types of people. We are all different. I would try to avoid those people who are bothersome.

    I would like to thank you again Jeff for using this opportunity to teach us more special terms to describe those kinds of people. It is useful to know the use of them.

    Best Regards
    Betty 🙂

  7. Neal says:


    Thanks a lot for bringing up this issue.

    I believe that the best way to get along with the people of these categories is to know their inner world and expectations. Let me clarify my point.
    A social butterfly is a good mixer who mingles with people easily. Consequently, he can give good advice on how to throw parties, prepare brilliant speeches and do presentations. If I, for example, ask for his wise tips, he will definitely wish to help me because he is an expert in this field. As a result, we will establish a steady long-term relation. By asking for his wise advice, I will boost his self-confidence and self-esteem. In return, I will improve my communication skills. It’s a win-win situation.

    Moving on to a Gossip, he knows much about the coworkers, their problems and strong and weak points. If I want, for instance, to resolve a conflict with someone or clarify misunderstanding then I can come up to the gossip and ask everything about the person I am about to talk to. After hearing him out, I will be able to set the best strategy to tackle some problems. Besides, I can ask the gossip to get some important information about somebody for me. I bet the gossip will be glad to reveal his true talent. Again, it’s a win-win situation.

    If a Malcontent bothers you, then you can download a video on crippled and mentally ill people from YouTube who are looking for some sponsors. Explain to him that these people are more miserable than him and need his help. Then, ask him to make a donation or provide them with any possible help. Next, always ask him whether he has done it or not. He will end up contacting you. If it doesn’t work, you can say that there is always some stink coming out of his mouth. He should see the doctor ASAP. Eventually, you will get rid of him.

    Keep a distance from Backstabbers. Keep your conversations with him to the minimum. The less he knows about you the less vulnerable you are.

    If you have to deal with narcissist, a few penny compliments will make him happy. Highlight his importance in the company and point at his unique approach to tackling various problems. Don’t overdo, of course. Otherwise, you will be considered as a Suck-up.

    Best regards,

  8. Dan says:

    I was thinking that, maybe, at times, we all are a little bit of the mentioned above without realizing or admitting that.

    Why? that simple! because it’s always the others doing/saying bad things, according to what I hear around by people talking.

    Right, it’s always the others….we are so perfect! right?

    Always blaming the others. Something wrong in your life? It is all Politician’s fault.
    See that’s easy blaming the others. It can also be fun!

    I am not picking up English? Jeff’s fault (not Lucy.. she is untouchable.. she is like virgin Mary)


  9. Dan says:

    Jeff’s post provoked so many thoughts that I am writing again. I do not see any problem with that. There is so many white space just waiting to be filled.

    I am trying to looking at the picture from a different side here.

    With these individuals it is not all pain and negativity, they also make the world different, less boring and various. So, I am pleased with their presence.

    Just as an example, without them, there would not be this same post! we would be here complaining about how perfect we are.

    I do not want to work in a place that looks like the covers of the Jehovah’s witness publications of paradise on earth where you see everyone smiling
    and the kids play with lions.

    Maybe that yes, I mean playing with lions, I would like that.

    So, I am glad there are such individuals around. Personally, at the workplace I experience lots of fun.
    We are all relatively young and there is abundance of joking around and jerks to make fun of.

    Answering Jeff’s question, I would say that the most disruptive person is the woman that instead of working goes b@#£@ing around.
    I could be wrong about that, but geez …women can be disruptive just like hurricanes. Don’t you guys agree?


  10. Tania says:

    Hi! I like the psychological topic even if I always have a guiltiness feeling.
    I think we all are a little narcissist, a little gossip, a little backstabber. This is the human nature.
    I look at the little children. They don’t know to lie and their parents must teach them not to have bad manners with their mates, having a good bahaviour.
    Because of many troubles, failures from our own life we can harm work place life or even productivity.
    We start to envy, to hate anyone, especially the success persons.
    Or simply, we were born with these “manners”.

  11. Parviz says:

    hey Dan
    I realy relats to your ending question.

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! With regard to the bosses…I agree with the mentioned article.
    “The narcissists are terrible listeners and apt to gobble up all the credit.
    Many bosses are narcissists. Take care ensuring that the narcissist doesn’t rule your work life.”
    One of my bosses was very gossip, backstabber, very, very narcissist, but workaholic and clever.
    We have sometimes to tolerate some “sins”, if it is possible.

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Betty, I like very much your saying:
    “one type of rice feeds hundred types of people.”
    Thank you.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Dan, I have remarked your opinion:
    “We tend to only see the negative side of others, and often forget about our own.”

    Being a woman, I’d like to know what B@#$ type means.

    You don’t want to say us what you are watching on YOU TUBE.
    I think you listen to and talks by Buddhist monks. Is it your secret?

  15. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Neal, you are a new comer I think. Glad to meet you.
    Thank you for your very good advices.
    For sure you are talking from a boss view point.
    A good boss must know to use all his employees abilities and “sins” for his profit.
    And I agree with you: the less he knows about you the less vulnerable you are.
    This was one of the first advices received when I started to work:
    don’t talk too much about you.
    Thank you.

  16. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Emiliano, I am reading with interest every thing you are writing.
    I was worried about you said: around February/ March I began to regain my life again.
    I’m not really a believer but I pray to God when I lose hope.
    I do the same, too.
    I wish you all the best.


  17. Tania says:

    Hi! I think all of us agree with Emiliano:
    this ESL site is the land of peace.
    The land of peace and friendship.

  18. Tania says:

    Hi! Work would be great without the coworkers… I don’t know what to say…
    I have had the oportunity to work alone in an office.
    It was quiet, pleasant, but I was isolated from the rest of the coworkers.
    As I am a lonely person, being and isolated…you can imagine how nice it was.

  19. emiliano says:

    Neal, my eyes are opening wide reading your post as it is wise, absolutely wise and certain. I think you have given us such good advises
    that I can only said you ¡BRAVO¡ they are really nice and incredible wise advises what you have written in the post.
    Reminds me what my wife Cuca use to do in her common life, she is really an intelligent wise person just in living without problems with
    other, family or wich eve other person who could be beside her.
    I am not so, I am a fighting man that says just what me have not to say being so frank and crude (some times) that seems I am looking
    for problems every where or moment.

    To persons like you and Cuca I only could say, Bravo, that is the right attitude to be happier, Neal sincerely yours

  20. Ben says:

    A stimulating issue,I guess.After reading this,some kind of faces,faces of my coworkers, have come out of my mind immediately.
    some of them are more or less like Jeff said.And it seems to me that a suck-up may disturb me a lot,which could be called ‘friendly-looking tiger’
    in China,I guess.
    But there is a saying in my country,all rivers run into sea because it has wide heart and is capable of embracing all.We are not sea though,we could
    still learn to sea and try our best not to be influenced by those kind of persons.
    Anyway,I guess we are not perfect as well and we sometimes are more or less like them.
    So thinking of more positive sides of people would do good to all of us.

  21. emiliano says:

    Dear Tania, I don´t know if these poems have been here in this land of peace before
    but again they are here, just for you dear friend.

    My Love

    Without wanted, without feeling it nearly without being concious
    I fell in love.
    Thin, nice, beautiful crazy girl, we were living the sixties.
    Deluded years from one generation that confused everything.
    Love, miracle daily bright that enlight my entire life.
    After fourty years or more of living, without feeling them being together.
    Today I still fell in love with you once and again till I´ll die.


    I am not the same I felt yesterday.
    Changed without knowing why?
    It is today what let me empty?

    Ideas come and go without any sense
    Thoughts incessant that drill the head
    Not hopes only awaiting everything go by

    Be you I say, but so another day
    Going after chimeras that vanish
    There is not any sense or hopes just wait

    One and another day, waiting for what
    Dead without doubts, easy relax for ever
    Sleep, not to think, not to suffer, not await

    Sleep for ever, at the end rest perhaps?
    Who knows? life it is a not sense being so
    when there is not will to continue

    Only rest is the time, today only rest is my will.


    Yes, they are quite different, but some time sadness gives a way of inspiration, don´t you think
    so dear?

    Sorry if I have posted them already, I cannot remember.

    My best dear Tania, one of the seniors here, just from the begining.


  22. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Emiliano, very nice poems! I consider them a spring present for me. Thank you.
    I copy all your poems in a special notebook.
    I copy to remember them and all good thoughts from all our blog friends who address me.

    I love you all.


  23. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Ben, I like your saying, too.
    “All rivers run into sea because it has wide heart and is capable of embracing all.”
    I think only special people have wide heart and capable of embracing all.

  24. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Parviz, just a line from you?
    We are always waiting for your interesting and detailed opinions.
    How are you?

  25. Parviz says:

    Dear Tania
    I wish I had a caring cowirker who could pull some of my weight,
    I read your post’ but don’t get a chance to write something.
    I am helping a friend running his shop.
    Love All of you,

  26. emiliano says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH TANIA, yes you are a generous person
    that gives us a lot of your best thoughts, words and feelings.

    I have to look for more poems of this humble writer who is
    emiliano, my best also to you dear friend.

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