A great co-worker is priceless. If you are a full-time employee, you see some of your co-workers more than you see your best friend or spouse.  They make your work better, create a good work environment, and make you look good in front of the boss. A difficult co-worker can make your life painful, make you dread work, and can derail your career.

We have come up with a list of the five most annoying co-workers to have to work with and some tips to help you resolve  or at least survive those sticky situations. The following are the most common types of difficult co-workers at work and some strategies for coping with them:

1. The Belittler

Belittler routinely tear others down in order to build themselves up. Put-downs, demeaning remarks and disparaging comments are common trademarks of this person.

Strategy:

Your confidence is the Belittler’s weakness, and he or she will back off if you stand up for yourself. Try refuting a Belittler’s criticism by asserting yourself, using facts where possible.

2. The Credit Thief

Insecure about their status, Credit Thieves boldly steal your ideas and grab the glory when a project is successful. Curiously, they’re nowhere to be found when things go wrong.

Strategy:

Keep a written record of your activities and accomplishments. Give your manager regular status reports about the projects you’re working on,  and don’t hesitate to correct misperceptions.

3. The Rumourmonger

Rumourmongers like drama and often spread half-truths or lies by talking behind others’ backs. This is an especially dangerous type of co-worker because he or she has the ability to tarnish your reputation.

Strategy: 

The best defence is to avoid engaging in any kind of gossip – remember that anything you say can be held against you. If the Rumourmonger starts swapping stories with you, say only good things about your colleagues and excuse yourself as quickly as possible.

4. The Slacker

This person may try to pass off tasks to other staff members. The Slacker often claims he or she is “too busy” to help out yet will make time for water cooler chats, sleeping and web surfing during office hours.

Strategy:

Be sure this person carries his or her weight on project teams by documenting the responsibilities of each member of the group and asking for regular status reports. Hold everyone accountable for their portion of the project, and be firm with deadlines.

5. The Saboteur

Saboteurs have a knack for leaving colleagues in the lurch. Similar to the Belittler, they like to make others look bad. Their tactics aren’t always overt, so you may not realize you’re working with a Saboteur until a critical deadline arrives. Then, you find you’re unable to complete your part of the project because the Saboteur has withheld important information.

Strategy:

Be sure your supervisor or project manager knows the roles and responsibilities of each team member, and insist on regular progress reports so that Saboteurs can’t take advantage of lapses in oversight.