dealing with difficult coworkers and negative or violent behaviors at work

Dealing With Difficult Coworkers: The Most Common 10 Types

who this class is for

Employees, managers, and professionals

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About this micro-class

Dealing with difficult people at work can be challenging, but understanding different personality types and employing effective communication strategies can help.┬áIt’s essential to recognize when to involve a supervisor or HR if conflicts persist or escalate.

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers by Personality Type

1. Negative Coworkers

Characteristics: Always pessimistic, complain frequently, and bring down team morale.

Best Practices: Encourage a positive mindset, highlight the positives, and redirect conversations to solutions. Offer support and constructive feedback.

2. Micromanagers

Characteristics: Controlling, want to be involved in every detail, and have difficulty trusting others.

Best Practices: Communicate clearly and proactively, keep them informed, and provide regular updates. Demonstrate competence to build trust and suggest periodic check-ins rather than constant oversight.

3. Passive-Aggressive Coworkers

Characteristics: Indirect communication, often undermine others, and can be sarcastic or uncooperative.

Best Practices: Address issues directly but calmly. Seek clarification if needed, and encourage open communication. Set clear expectations and boundaries.

4. Know-It-All

Characteristics: Always have an opinion, dismiss others’ ideas, and may be resistant to feedback.

Best Practices: Acknowledge their knowledge but assert your expertise. Use data and facts to support your points, and encourage collaboration rather than competition.

5. Procrastinators

Characteristics: Delay tasks, miss deadlines, and may affect team productivity.

Best Practices: Communicate deadlines, offer assistance if needed, and express the impact of delays on the team. Establish accountability and follow up on progress.

6. Gossipers

Characteristics: Spread rumors, talk behind others’ backs, and create a negative work environment.

Best Practices: Avoid participating in gossip, redirect conversations to work-related topics, and address concerns directly with the person involved. Encourage a culture of open communication.

7. Non-Communicators

Characteristics: Withhold information, avoid conversations, and may be difficult to reach.

Best Practices: Be patient, provide opportunities for open communication, and seek feedback. Use various communication channels and be persistent in your attempts to engage.

8. Inflexible Coworkers

Characteristics: Resistant to change, unwilling to adapt, and may hinder progress.

Best Practices: Communicate the reasons for change, highlight potential benefits, and offer support during the transition. Find common ground and compromise when possible.

9. Lazy Coworkers

Characteristics: Lack of motivation, unwillingness to contribute, and low productivity.

Best Practices: Communicate expectations, set measurable goals, and provide consequences for not meeting standards. Offer support, training, or resources if needed.

10. Rebels

Characteristics: Open defiance of rules, policies, or authority figures.

Best Practices: Address concerns or disagreements through open communication. Communicate expectations and consequences for insubordination. Involve higher management or HR if necessary.

Dealing with More Extreme Behaviors at Work

Violent Coworkers

Characteristics: Physical aggression or threats of violence.

Best Practices: Prioritize safety and report violent incidents immediately. Involve HR, security, or law enforcement as necessary. Provide resources for anger management or counseling.

Abusive Coworkers

Characteristics: Verbal or emotional abuse, manipulation, and control.

Best Practices: Report abusive behavior to HR, document instances, and seek support from colleagues. Establish clear boundaries, and if necessary, involve law enforcement or legal counsel.

Toxic Coworkers

Characteristics: Consistently negative, creating a hostile work environment.

Best Practices: Limit interactions, focus on positive aspects, and maintain professionalism. Report persistent toxicity to HR and seek their intervention.

Coworkers Who Harass or Discriminate

Characteristics: Unwanted and discriminatory behavior or comments.

Best Practices: Report incidents to HR immediately, providing documentation and witnesses if possible. Follow the organization’s policies for addressing harassment and discrimination. Encourage a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.


Characteristics: Intentionally intimidating, threatening, or humiliating others.

Best Practices: Report bullying behavior to HR, document instances, and seek support from colleagues. Encourage a culture of respect and intervene when witnessing bullying. Follow organizational policies and involve authorities if needed.

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