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Annoying Co-Workers: A Field Guide

To have a successful sales career, you need to deal effectively with co-workers. This is usually easy since sales pros are usually good with people. However, there are some species of co-worker that require special handling. To help you deal with these problematic varieties, I've collected a list of the most common irritating co-workers, along with advice on how to cope with them.

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READERS: Please add a comment if there's an annoying type that I've missed!


The Narcissist
  • Characteristics: Considers everything from the viewpoint of how it affects her.
  • Quote: "But enough about me; what do YOU think about me?"
  • Plumage: The most expensive suit of anyone at her level.
  • Warning: You do not really exist in her world.
  • Cultural Archetype: Miranda Priestly
  • Care and Feeding: Position anything you want and need her to do as something that will make her look good.
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The Droner
  • Characteristics: Has some kind of comment or anecdote on absolutely everything.
  • Quote: "That reminds me of the time when we..."
  • Plumage: A comfortable sport coat.
  • Cultural Archetype: Peterman
  • Warning: You will be bored out of your mind.
  • Care and Feeding: Arrange to have somebody call you fifteen minutes after the meeting starts, so that you have an excuse to leave.
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The Toady
  • Characteristics: Does everything possible to try to make the boss like him.
  • Quote: "You really handled that well, big guy..."
  • Plumage: Something that looks like it came from the boss's closet.
  • Cultural Archetype: Toad
  • Warning: Everything you say will be reported to the boss.
  • Care and Feeding: Pretend to ask his advice and treat him like he's an actual human being. He may even help you manage the big guy.
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The Naysayer
  • Characteristics: Establishes his importance by saying "NO" to every good idea.
  • Quote: "Every time we've tried something like that in the past, it's failed..."
  • Plumage: Dark suit, bland tie.
  • Cultural Archetype: Tom Coburn
  • Warning: You can waste all kinds of time and effort trying to get to "YES."
  • Care and Feeding: Always state things as alternatives so that by saying "NO" he is actually saying "YES" to what you actually want.
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The Volcano
  • Characteristics: Explodes whenever any of her decisions or actions are questioned.
  • Quote: "!#%$#!!@$!..."
  • Plumage: Asbestos.
  • Cultural Archetype: Ursula
  • Warning: If you react by keeping quiet, she'll just explode louder and longer.
  • Care and Feeding: Without getting angry, raise your emotional intensity level so that she can hear your through her own mental noise. Then demand civil behavior. If you don't get it, leave.
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The Weasel
  • Characteristics: Constantly takes credit for other people's work.
  • Quote: "We worked together as a team, right? You bounced the idea off me and I helped, right?"
  • Plumage: Comes in all sizes and shapes.
  • Cultural Archetype: Grima Wormtongue
  • Warning: Will pretend to be your friend as long as you keep feeding him ideas.
  • Care and Feeding: Build an audit trail for everything that you do; make sure to send emails to your boss confirming every step.
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The Drama Queen
  • Characteristics: Automatically turns absolutely everything into a major crisis.
  • Quote: "If we don't take care of this right away, it will be a complete and utter disaster!!!"
  • Plumage: Either very bright colors or all black.
  • Cultural Archetype: Tosca
  • Warning: She will make it impossible to get any productive work done.
  • Care and Feeding: Find excuses to send her on business trips and useless meetings. If possible, get her on interdepartmental committees for projects that you want to fail.
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Mr. Know-It-All
  • Characteristic: Puts down everyone's ideas and promotes his own.
  • Quote: "That's not the way to do it... let me show you how it is done"
  • Plumage: Pocket protector
  • Cultural Archetype: Tim Taylor
  • Warning: Will take your good idea, butcher it, and use it to override your own.
  • Care and Feeding: Present your idea so that it seems like it's something that he thought of on his own -- and told you about it.
  • (Special thanks to Snukrd for this species!)
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The Proud Parent

  • Characteristic: Talks endlessly about his family.
  • Quote: "Let me show you the pictures of her latest little league game."
  • Plumage: "World's Greatest Parent" coffee mug.
  • Cultural Archetype: Gil Buckman
  • Warning: May badmouth you behind your back if you complain about the boredom.
  • Care and Feeding: Express polite interest, then change the subject. If the kids pop back up in the conversation, find an excuse to go somewhere else.
  • (Special thanks to Josh Reeve for this species!)
The Busy Goldbricker
  • Characteristic: Spends far more time complaining about how busy they are than actually doing work.
  • Quote: "I'm so overloaded, I don't have time to help with that."
  • Plumage: Always carrying a heavy load of (useless) folders.
  • Cultural Archetype: Wally
  • Warning: Will visit your office regularly to "escape the stress" -- and waste your time with gossip.
  • Care and Feeding: Avoid his office visits by saying "as long as you're here, you can help me with my project."
  • (Special thanks to Skatem a comment inspiring this species!)