4 Difficult Personalities You Meet at Work Who Could Make You Rethink Your Job

 Early in my career, I moved around quite a bit from job to job. While jumping around in my career was not ideal, I did get the chance to work with different groups of people and learn much about interacting with different personalities as much as I did about learning the job.

When I received my first job offer as a scientist in a research lab, I remember thinking that I had finally made it and nothing could go wrong. I thought it was as simple as doing my work, getting promoted, and all that good stuff.

How wrong I was!!!

Work became mentally challenging as it meant navigating through the niceties and protocols of working with all kinds of people. Nothing could prepare me for the mental challenges of the job that went far beyond just typing up lab reports and performing research like a good scientist.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that learning to deal with people at work is just as important or even more crucial than the job itself.

As luck would have it, I met some wonderful people but I also met some really difficult people. Here are 4 personalities of the difficult people I encountered at almost every job I had. While I wasn’t always successful at learning how to deal with these personalities, I do want to share my experiences and lessons learned.

The Boss Who Plays Favorites

I loved this one (sarcasm). I always seemed to encounter that one boss who had his favorites. His favoritism knew no bounds and he was not averse to showing it.

When it came to his favorite employee, there were buddy-buddy conversations about football, weekend activities, and even their personal lives. I always felt left out when I was in the office with the boss and his favorite employee. I literally became invisible.

The favorite was also awarded the best projects and praised despite being on an equal footing to the other employees and not being exceptional in any manner.

I had another boss who displayed his favoritism in a border-line inappropriate manner. During happy hours and business conferences away from work, he seemed to get a little too friendly to the younger, female coworkers. This friendliness also extended to handing out the best awards and projects to this group of young ladies.

It’s tough not being the favorite and my reaction was mixed. I felt sad, sometimes depressed, and angry that life couldn’t be fairer. I wish I had been able to tackle this head-on with a better frame of mind but I did not put in my best work once I discovered that whatever I did would go unnoticed.

How I should have dealt with it

Looking back, I should have worked on specific strategies for dealing with a boss who plays favorites. The most important takeaway from this is that I should have remained neutral and not let it affect me emotionally.

First and foremost, I should have acknowledged that I would never be able to change my boss’s behavior. Second, I should have continued to put in my best work and effort regardless of any favoritism on his part.

The Star Employee Who Demands All the Attention

The star employee truly deserves to be at the pinnacle. The star employee should not be confused with the boss’s favorite employee. The difference is that the favorite employee is never the best at their job. They have simply won undeserved favor from the boss.

On the other hand, the star employee deserves all the kudos because they are truly great at their job. They may be so good at their job that they cannot be ignored. In some cases, they do end up becoming the boss’s favorite which is only natural.

Almost every workplace I attended had that one-star employee who was far ahead of the rest of the pack. Sometimes, they became the star because of their years of experience. Other times, they were the star because of their gifted talent.

So where does that leave the less stellar employee who can’t really compete?

I knew I had no chance when it came to showcasing my research work against that of the star employee. Sometimes, I felt discouraged because I didn’t feel that my work was up to par. Other times, I wondered if I would ever be promoted to a higher level when that promotion was guaranteed to the star employee.

How I should have dealt with it

Instead of trying to compete with the star employee, I should have tried to collaborate, make friends, and learn from them. There would have been so much to learn and by associating with them, it would surely have reaped benefits upon me.

Teamwork and employee engagement would not have gone unnoticed by the higher-ups. Additionally, I could have raised my profile and visibility by associating with the star employee.

The Bully Who Manages to Get Away With It

When I first met my bully coworker, he seemed like the sweetest and nicest guy. My bully coworker had friends and colleagues who seemed to love him dearly. What I didn’t realize is that behind the initial smile lay a tendency for verbally abusive behavior which reared its ugly head during stressful and not-so stressful situations at work.

Fortunately, I was never the sole target of my bully coworker but I experienced his wrath and toxicity on more than one occasion. First, I found out that he was criticizing my work behind my back to other coworkers. Next, I found myself on the receiving end of an angry tirade when I refused to collaborate with him on a project.

My bully coworker was eventually reported to HR by several employees. Despite the complaints on his record, nothing stuck, and HR and the managers just let him get away with it after having a brief chat with him.

How I should have dealt with it

According to Healthline, bullying should always be documented in writing. It is important to note down the date, time, event, and any witnesses who were present during the bullying.

Physical evidence such as notes, emails, commentaries, performance reports, and other documents that help prove the nature of the bullying should be saved.

I could have also chosen to directly confront the bully either alone or with the help of other coworkers but since I was not comfortable doing that, it would have been easier for me to report the case to HR.

In extreme cases, legal action is also possible.

The Freeloader Who Takes Credit for Your Work

The freeloader who took credit for my work was actually a friend of mine at first. We both worked together on a project. She had a lot of questions and I had more experience so I gave her my ideas and we wrote up a report together.

Imagine my shock at the meeting with my boss when she started saying “I did this” instead of “we did this”. No credit. No acknowledgment. Nothing.

The worst part of it was that my boss actually thought she did everything and started talking to her and ignoring me completely. Our friendship at work was over that day.

How I should have dealt with it

The only way surefire way to prevent someone from taking credit for your work is making sure it never happens again.

In my case, I should have immediately spoken up to my boss and publicly claimed credit for what I did. Instead, I shut down because I was in shock that someone who I considered to be a friend could actually “steal” my work.

The rule of the game is that politics in the workplace prevails and there may be no honor among colleagues. Hence, I should have proactively taken credit for my own accomplishments instead of waiting until my colleague laid claim to my work.

I also lost a friendship that day. It would have been in both our best interests for me to have spoken privately to my colleague and to let her know that in no condition whatsoever should she have ever taken credit for something that she never accomplished.


You are always going to come up with many different personalities at your job. Successfully navigating the workplace requires paying attention and learning how to deal with difficult and toxic people.

You might get lucky and work with the perfect team. More often than not, you will end up facing at least one difficult personality at work. Your success depends on how you deal with them.

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