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Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Get rid of miserable office bullies

October 15. 2017 1:13AM

I would bet the vast majority of people who have ever worked in a professional office setting have experienced people who are painful to work with and be around. You'll come across different types of personality challenges in every setting, and it's one of the unfortunate realities of the workplace.

We have the negaholics. We have the back­-stabbers. We have the gossipers. We have the naysayers. We have the lazy ones. While it's typically a small percentage of the workforce, these types of people exist in every company, and it's important that we all know how to handle them.

In the past, I've written a lot about negaholics and the disastrous effect they can have on a company's culture, morale and performance. In my experience, negaholics are the most dangerous. They are a cancer and need to be cut out and removed as quickly as possible.

Coming in a very close second place are the office bullies. And when I say bullies, I'm not talking about the typical bully we think of in the schoolyard, but there are some similarities. Sure, they aren't taking people's lunch money or stuffing people into lockers, but office bullies have a lot of similar attributes.

They often have poor communication skills and low levels of emotional intelligence. One key indicator of an office bully is when you realize the majority of people do not want to interact with that individual. People will go around them to get answers they need, and they are often avoided entirely. And when bullies are out of the office, people celebrate and enjoy every moment.

Office bullies stick their nose in issues they shouldn't, and they have a nasty tone. Candidly, they appear to be miserable in their professional and personal lives - and in most cases, that is true and part of the reason why they behave the way they do. They think they have a say in everything, and they make their opinions known, regardless of how it impacts others.

Office bullies are typically found in management and leadership roles, where they have the ability to exude their tactics on employees who can't do a whole lot about it. People are forced to deal with the situation and trust me, it's not fun.

Regardless of what is happening in your personal and professional life, you don't have to spread your miserable existence to others and ruin everyone's day. You can communicate with people in a way that makes it appear like you actually care and you can keep your opinions to yourself. You don't have to walk around looking like you hate the world. You can smile and have normal conversations with people and treat people with respect.

Office bullies suck the energy out of a room as soon as they walk in. They make people cringe. And they create an environment that is close to as bad as a negaholic. Leaders who fail to recognize these individuals and take swift action will ultimately pay the price and have to deal with larger, more complex problems.

Like negaholics, bullies need to go. There is no place for people who think they can walk around an office bullying people and trying to tell them what to do in a negative, condescending tone. While I'm a big believer in coaching and professional development, I'm a strong believer that both negaholics and bullies need to be fired. It's not easy, but it's a much better alternative.

Christopher Thompson ( is vice president of business development at Talient Action Group in Manchester. His column appears weekly.

Business Christopher Thompson's Closing The Deal

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