zombie-group

Trolls, princesses and other scary coworkers

zombie-groupThis post is purely an ode to many of the creative and on-point scary coworker ideas I’ve received this month. Well done readers, well done. I’m sufficiently frightened. I think this Halloween, I’m working out of my home office with all of the lights on. ‘Course it doesn’t take much to freak me out. This is a guy who used to get uncomfortable simply by hearing the theme song to the American TV show “Unsolved Mysteries.”  I didn’t even have to watch the show.  The theme song was plenty.  Pathetic.

Your Scary Coworkers

Without further adieu, this is your list of workplace monsters and scary coworkers (in no particular order):

The Office Troll – Grumpy and grotesque, this keeper of the “road” makes you pay a toll before you are permitted to pass. As one reader noted, they “wait to take your ideas after you’ve paid your toll to cross through their department.” Not only do you have to pay the toll, but you are fleeced as you pass. Nastiness. Welcome to the joys of office politics.

The Princess – I gotta be honest. This one took me by surprise. After all, what’s scary about a princess? But the more I thought about it, I realized it makes total sense. There is a fine line between princess and diva. The Diva is not pretty. They throw temper tantrums at a moment’s notice. They storm out of meetings in dramatic fashion. They are delicate, unstable and narcissistic. Woo… The only way to survive an office princess / diva is to make them the center of your workplace universe. Princess usually tend to reside in “small business” kingdoms, but I’ve seen them in non-profits, universities, retail and hospitality. Oh, and don’t be confused. Princesses can be men just as easily as they can be women.

invisible-manThe Faceless Coworker – I received this description from a reader and thought it was spot-on. So much so, I’m gonna let it stand on its own.  No need to mess it up with my commentary.  “The metaphorically Blind, Deaf, Speechless (and likely touchless and smell-less) coworker – without eyes, ears, nose, tongue or fingers. Why? — A divorce lawyer learns quickly that the opposite of love is not hate – It’s indifference. (Love and hate are close – going back and forth and erupting in emotion.) This monster ‘hates’ you by ignoring you – doesn’t see or hear or ask anything about you. [It] is simply indifferent to you and ignores you - the workplace equivalent of the high school football quarterback or prom queen who doesn’t see anything but themselves in the mirror.” I’ve seen this coworker just about everywhere. Scary.

Again, well done, folks, well done. Ya make my job easy.

Happy Halloween!

Next Month’s Dysfunction: Death by Meetings. You won’t want to miss this nasty pervasive dysfunction, unless of course you don’t ever go to meetings. If that’s you and you truly never attend any meetings whatsoever, you likely live in a cave. In which case I recommend you take a shower, shave, invest in some new clothes and try socializing once and a while. It will do you some good.

 

frankenstein

I work with Frankenstein

frankensteinI love the image of Frankenstein: a big, slow moving uncommunicative monster that lumbers along in the world. More often than not, he’s gentle and non-threatening, stopping to pet the occasional kitten. The big theme with Frankenstein is “misunderstood.” You can’t really understand him and as a result he is easy to misinterpret.  When misunderstanding does occur, Frank loses his mind. He flails about, yells unintelligibly and breaks stuff. Do you work with a Frank? My guess is that you do. Perhaps one of the most common dysfunctions at work is the overall inability to clearly articulate to others what one expects. It’s messy when a coworker fails to communicate, even messier when a customer is guilty of poor communication and downright horrific when the boss is the culprit. So what can you do?

How to Work with Frankenstein

If you work with a workplace Frankenstein (aka “Frank”), you have a few options:

  1. Be gentle – Franks are spooked easily. Firing off question after question is a great way to elevate their blood pressure. Slow and gentle is the key. Ask simple basic questions. Questions like: “what would you like to see happen?”, “What would please you most?”, etc… Pause between each question and allow time for a response.
  2. Get comfortable with silence – Franks need time to process questions. What does that mean for you? You need to get comfortable sitting in silence for long periods of time. Don’t fill the space with words or chatter. Don’t try to restate your question. Don’t do anything. Just sit. Franks will come around when they are ready.
  3. Give him stuff to react to – Franks do not do well if you ask them to clarify what they mean. Franks also don’t do well if you ask them to tell you what they want or want of you. They don’t author. They don’t articulate. They react. If you want to work with a Frank effectively, you have to be prepared to give them things to react to. Come in with options and present them. “Frank, do you like A or B better?”, “Frank, do you mean X or Y?”, “Frank, who does things the way you prefer? Drac or Wolfie?”
  4. Don’t surprise him with bad news – Franks are very wary of villagers with fire and pitchforks. If bad stuff cometh, give him as much notice as possible. Don’t wait until the problem has reached Frank’s doorstep. Then it’s too late. The the arms will start flailing and stuff gets broken.

Workplace Frankenstein’s aren’t all that bad. With a little patience and effort, they are easily managed. Just don’t expect too much from them. For better or worse, working with a Frank means you are in the driver’s seat. They won’t be able to tell you much. So, if you are looking for compliments, clarity and collaboration, you need to look somewhere else. I heard Dracula has some openings, but as I’ve covered, emotional vampires have their hang-ups too.

 

ghost

My coworker is a ghost

Sometimes the problem with coworkers isn’t what you see, it’s what you don’t see that becomes the issue. When you want them to be there, they aren’t. When you try to find them, you can’t. To make matters worse, in some cases these “ghost” coworkers make such a lasting impression when the do materialize, others just simply don’t believe your story.

ghostI believe in ghosts. This comes from personal experience. For nearly 4 years I worked with a ghost as a colleague and business partner. And man, when he materialized before a client, they were left in awe. But when the client engagement was over, so was he. He would disappear. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to get him to materialize when I wanted him to. I would send him e-mails, leave him voicemails, and try other ways to wake the spirits. Nothing. The only thing that I ever found to work was to call his house, get his wife on the phone and persuade her to “wake him from the dead.”

Ghosts are tricky to work with. They are unreliable, unpredictable and usually materialize when they want to – not necessarily when you want them to. To complicate things, they love to make unexpected big entrances and positively “surprise” important people, leaving you dumbfounded, frustrated and more than a little pissed off.

How to Work with a Workplace Ghost

So what do you do if you have a workplace ghost on your hands? You have a few options:

  1. Figure out where they live – if you’ve ever watched any of those ghost shows or even cheesy horror flicks, you’ll hear the paranormal investigators talk about finding the part of the house that has the most paranormal activity. You need to find that room. In practical terms, this means finding out where they go when they vanish so you can plan on how you are going to communicate with them.
  2. Get a medium – Ghosts don’t respond to any and all mediums. You need to find the right medium in which to contact your ghost. No need to find someone with a Long Island accent, however you do need to be thoughtful about identifying a medium that works with your particular ghost. This can either be a person who has a certain connection with the individual (boss, friend or in the case of my story, a spouse) or the right kind of communication mechanism (e-mail, voicemail, Twitter, etc…). Having woken more than my fair share of spirits, I find that texting is particularly useful. It’s the 21st century version of the ouija board.
  3. Threaten to leave the house – Deep down, ghosts actually don’t want you to leave. They need you to play your part so they can be, well, ghosts. Without you, they are left to do the work. So, threaten to leave. That will get them to show up… for a short period of time, anyway. But be realistic. They are ghosts. It is only a matter of time until they disappear again.
  4. Call for an exorcism – Eventually, the day will come where you need to make up your mind. Either you leave the house and find another home (i.e. find another job) or you get the ghost removed. That’s when HR and your boss need to be brought into the mix. Just be prepared that they may not believe your ghostly tales. You may have to leave until they ultimately see it for themselves. Comforting or not, they will eventually see it and you’ll be proven right. It just may not be on your timeline.

What if Your Boss or Employee is a Ghost?

Now, what if the situation is different. What if you are dealing with a workplace ghost but it’s not your coworker?

  • What if your boss is a ghost?  If your boss is a ghost, follow steps 1-3. Unfortunately, exorcising a ghost that has been around a lot longer than you is hard to do. You’ll likely need to leave the house. Look for an internal transfer to another department and let your replacement deal with the hauntings.
  • What if your employee is a ghost?  If you have a ghostly employee, follow steps 1-2, skip step 3 (you aren’t going anywhere) and move to step 4 quickly. Force them to permanently materialize or they will be exorcized. Just know, exorcism will be the solution in over 90% of workplace hauntings. Getting ghosts to change their sheets is no easy task.

Workplace ghosts are tricky to deal with. However, if you can find where they live, get the right medium and layout your expectations, you’ve got a shot at a happy haunting. Start your ghost hunting today before things turn even more frightening.

 

 

scary_graphic

“My coworker is scary” 2013 edition

scary_graphic256My coworker is scary. If you’ve been a loyal follower of this blog (of course you have. Pat yourself on the back for being AWESOME!), you may recognize this topic. This marks the first time I’ve decided to resurrect a monthly theme (get it… resurrect… I kill me…). Last October, in the spirit of Halloween, we took on some nasty workplace beasties. From emotional vampires to workplace zombies, we fought the good fight against some of workplace’s most vicious inhabitants. When the dust settled and November rolled around, I realized that October is not the only month out of the year when our workplace looks like a scene from a horror flick. In fact, having “scary” coworkers is such a messy and pervasive problem, that I’ve come to realize that I’ve only scratched the surface on this topic. But I can’t do it alone.

I Need Your Help

Here’s what I’m asking. I’m going to kick start our month in this post by summarizing the workplace creepies I tackled this time last year. Then it’s up to you. What workplace monsters am I missing? Ghosts? Goblins? Ghouls? You get the point. No one knows workplace monsters and scary coworkers better than you. After all, they are probably in the cube, workspace or office right next door.

Here’s the current list of “captured” workplace monsters and scary coworkers. If for some reason, you haven’t gotten a chance to read these posts, check ‘em out. They are poignant, thought-provoking, entertaining and moving. You’ll laugh and cry, never to be the same again:

  • The Office Zombies – Surviving their brain numbing existence is not for the faint of heart. This post made an appearance on The Today Show. #Famous.
  • The Workplace Werewolf – One minute, a mild-mannered colleague. The next, he/she is leaping over the cubicle and attempting to rip your face off.
  • The Emotional Vampire – Charming, they lure you into their presence and suck the life out of you until all that is left is an empty exhausted shell.

What’s missing?

Join the Fight

silverbulletThink you see something out of the ordinary or eerie at work? Got a workplace monster wreaking havoc at the office? Post a comment below. Comment on Twitter or LinkedIn. Shoot me a note directly (my e-mail is: Brandon[at]theworkplacetherapist.com). Write a note, stick a stamp on it and put it in the mail. Send smoke signals. One way or the other, get me your scary coworker example and I’ll take it on.

In the meantime, look sharp, eat lots of garlic, cover any exposed flesh, watch for full moons and don’t eat any apples lying about. Scary coworkers are not to be taken lightly.

 

witch

My office feels like a haunted house

Admittedly, I’ve always loved Halloween. As a kid, I didn’t just “kinda like” Halloween, I LOVED Halloween (it probably bordered on unhealthy). I had countless costumes, masks, decorations and books on how to scare others. I was so nuts over the holiday that annually I designed, orchestrated, and hosted a neighborhood haunted house. Friends, family and neighbors would converge, decked out in their creepiest attire and would attempt to scare the life out of our guests. When the spooky night was over, everyone would take off their costumes and go back to their “normal selves” for the next 364 days until our next fright night. It was an annual tradition that we looked forward to each and every year.

While that sounds like a fun once-a-year event, no one (including me) wants to be stuck in a haunted house every single day. And for many of us, that’s exactly what going to work feels like. It’s as if we are stuck making our way through all of the unpredictable turns and startling surprises present in any good haunted house. Speaking as an expert, I can attest that what makes a haunted house particularly effective is the monsters that live within its walls. As a result of the workplace monsters that sneak up on us throughout the day, working in a workplace haunted house feels unpredictable, nerve-racking and unsettling.

Common Workplace Monsters

There are a whole host of workplace creeps that may haunt us on any given day at the office. Consider the following (thanks to all of my colleagues who have contributed some of these wonderful examples!):

  • Workplace Witch – The workplace witch is a dangerous visitor to any workspace. She / he will be pleasant to you in person and seem quite harmless when a request is made, but if they don’t get what they want, you’ll be secretly cursed. This witch’s curse can take any of the following forms: office back-stabbing, passive-aggressive behavior, work product sabotage, office politicking and damaging rumors. Best to give them what they want (if you can).
  • The Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde Boss – One minute, your boss is a wonderful gentle soul. The next minute, he or she has lost her mind, raging on you and berating your efforts publicly. If this is true for you and you’ve got a Jekyll and Hyde boss, there is not much you can do other than keep as much distance as you can and monitor their moods (see: workplace werewolf for complimenting strategies).
  • Ghostly Coworker – The ghostly coworker seems to suddenly appear out of thin air. One minute you are alone, the next minute he or she is right on top of you startling you with his / her presence (and often an urgent request). If you find yourself being haunted by a ghostly coworker, your best move might be to find another “home” in which to get your work done. They like surprising others so work some other place (ex: coffee shop, conference room, cafeteria, home, etc…) if you can!
  • Invisible Man (or Woman) – Similar to the ghostly coworker, this coworker is difficult to spot. The difference between the invisible coworker and the ghostly coworker is that you can never find the invisible coworker when you need him or her. They seem to suddenly disappear when a project is due, when a fire occurs or when they desperately hold information that everyone else needs. Tracking their movements and regularly throwing powder in the air are your best tactics.
  • Frankenstein – Lumbering and slow like our office zombies, the office Frankenstein comes by our workspace, mumbles an unintelligible and/or cryptic request and then leaves. If we don’t “guess” correctly on what they wanted from us and we under deliver, they let us know by raising their booming voice and knocking things over. Be brave and ask him / her to repeat their request in the beginning. Don’t let them stagger out of your site without a crystal clear understanding of what is expected. Guessing is never a good strategy at work, particularly when monsters are involved.

And of course, don’t forget our workplace werewolves, emotional vampires and office zombies we’ve already tackled this month. All are scary to work with and in combination can be downright paralyzing at work.

Consider Organizing Tours

If your office feels more like a haunted house, consider orchestrating tours. After all, the funny thing about us as human-beings is that unlike any other creature on earth, we’ll seek out and even pay for others to scare us. If you are going to suffer that badly, who says you can’t turn it into something profitable. In the unfortunate event that office tours are outside of the realm of possibility, looking for a less haunted workplace is your next best bet.

Of course, I can’t resist a good “haunted house.” If you’ll consider arranging tours, you can sign me up as your first victim. My palms are sweating already in anticipation!

Happy Halloween!

 


The Workplace Therapist Featured on The Today Show

For more, read the entire My Coworker is Scary series.


zombiecoworkers

My coworkers are zombies

What’s more popular right now than zombies? Zombie T.V. shows, zombie books, just about anything zombie is trendy. In fact, just yesterday I saw a road race in which zombies would chase participants as they attempted to complete course. Craziness. And while we may find amusement watching zombies slowly stagger after the living in search of dinner, what is not cool is to work with zombies as coworkers. As one who survived a zombie infested workplace, I can personally attest to the mind-numbing experience that such a workplace is. So, how do you know if your workplace has become infested with zombies?

Signs You are Working Amongst the Living Dead

Zombie workplaces have a few telltale signs. First and foremost, understand that it is virtually impossible to work with a singular zombie. Just like the movies, they are just too slow and clumsy to survive very long by themselves. Zombies exist in packs. So, just as the title of this post alludes, you don’t work with a zombie. You work with zombies (plural). Here’s how you know if you are working amongst the living dead:

  1. Work zombies move slowly, following the same routines every day – workplace zombies are neither fast moving nor do they enjoy “mixing it up.” They are creatures of routine. So, if you look around and work feels like the movie “Ground Hog Day,” that is your first sign.
  2. Work zombies stay in the same place a very long time – if you begin hearing stories of your slow moving colleagues doing the same job they are currently doing in the same location for decade upon decade, that is one more sign they may have died long ago.
  3. Work zombies gang up on the living – the third sign pushes us even closer to zombie land. If you notice that the “living” at work (colleagues who move more quickly, try to bring in change, offer new ideas and threaten zombie routines) are ganged up against, zombies are alive and well at your job (no pun intended).
  4. You are losing your brains – This final sign is the nail in the coffin that not only are you amongst zombies, you are slowly becoming one of them. As I heard one client tell me, “I wake up every day, do the same job, and I swear that I think I am getting dumber each day.” If that’s you, you need to accept your fate or get moving and fast.

Strategies for Keeping Your Brains Intact and Eradicating Work Zombies

There are a few strategies that work well in throwing zombies off of your scent and ultimately taking them out. Consider the following:

  • Blend in – While you may be pulling your hair out with the slow lumbering pace and mind-numbing routines, it is best to appear to look like a zombie yourself. They’ll quickly embrace you as one of their own and move on.
  • Hide out with the “living” – get together with other “living” colleagues like yourself in secret. Talk about ideas, visions, plans for change and other mind-stimulating topics. The key here is to not be too bold or blatant about your meetings. The last thing you need is a pack of zombies clawing at the door and breaking windows trying to get at you and your comrades.
  • Take out workplace zombies one at a time – most zombie fighters fail due to an overall lack of patience. They suit up, armed to the hilt, proudly proclaim their war against zombie work styles and try to make sweeping changes effective immediately. This rarely works. Zombies resist and ultimately drive out the zombie fighter. The best strategy is to pick off the lead zombies one at a time. This usually requires a combination of performance management by the zombie’s manager as well as starvation from their regular routines and “food sources.” In other words, clear isolation and alienation for the zombie unless they change their zombie ways.

If you are committed to changing a zombie workplace, the good news is that it can be done. I’ve seen it first-hand. The not-so-good news is that it requires time, patience and planning. Going in guns blazing only draws zombies to your scent. So, you have to ask yourself: “Is the town (your workplace) worth saving or do you need to move on?” But be careful. If you stay and don’t follow the strategies I outlined above, you’ll wake up one day and realize you’ve become one of them. You’ll have a strong desire to do exactly what you did the day before and anyone with other ideas will look to you like a tasty meal. At that point, embrace your life of slow moving, comforting routines until you are taken out – the eventual fate of all zombies.

 


The Workplace Therapist Featured on The Today Show

For more, read the entire My Coworker is Scary series.


vampire

My coworker is an emotional vampire

Larry was a mysterious colleague. “Charming and captivating” were words his coworkers used to describe first meeting Larry. Larry just seemed to emit a certain attractive quality. It would reel you in like a moth to a flame. But then something strange would happen. The more time spent with Larry, the more his coworkers would complain of feeling drained and exhausted. Larry became known for turning 30 minute “touch base” meetings into 2-3 hour marathons where he would talk, preach, reenact, dream and generally suck up the energy in the room. Unfortunately, while Larry was feeding off of the energy in the room, his coworkers suffered. Larry would leave the meetings energized with an extra hop in his step while his coworkers crawled to the door, exhausted and drained from Larry’s endless one way banter. Larry is part of a dangerous office breed: the emotional vampire.

How You Know You’ve Been Bitten

Emotional vampires are sneaky and subtle. They move in as charming colleagues. They are captivating, entertaining and generally interesting. The problem is that their energy comes from the people around them. Whether they hijack meetings to dream about big ideas or they take over discussions to complain about their workload, their energy comes from being heard and reaffirmed. They suck mercilessly until they are fed, leaving shriveled colleagues in their wake. How do you know if you’ve been bitten? Three signs:

  1. The emotional vampire talks about him/herself relentlessly – They find ways to take what you are talking about and turn it to themselves. They listen very little and talk incessantly.
  2. The emotional vampire has no boundaries and no respect for others’ time – They grab you in the hallway causing you to be late. They never ever end meetings on time.
  3. You FEEL exhausted after you spend time with them – They usually start off meetings semi-flat and end meetings looking and acting “high.” Those in the meeting with the emotional vampire have the opposite experience. If you find yourself bringing coffee to meetings in anticipation of the energy drain you’ll likely experience, you may have an emotional vampire on your hands.

Your Garlic Strategy for Keeping Emotional Vampires At Bay

I’ve fought my fair share of emotional vampires in the workplace, and I’ve got the fang marks to prove it. After barely escaping their clutches on more than one occasion, I’ve learned that there are certain things that you can do that emotional vampires despise. Consider the following strategies:

  • If possible, never meet with them in person – Emotional vampires have to meet in person in order to effectively drain other’s energy. For them, it is not a preference, it is a NEED. Refuse to meet with them in person and offer a phone call instead. You’ll see them squirm, protest and revolt. It seems fangs can’t penetrate through phone lines very well.
  • Never answer your phone when they call – When emotional vampires call, never answer your phone. Force them to leave a message so you know what they want and call them back on your time. If you don’t, they’ll catch you off guard and derail your day.
  • Always open every conversation with a “hard stop” – Emotional vampires suck and suck and suck until you tell them to stop. Your best pre-emptive strategy is to open every interaction with an emotional vampire by announcing, “Unfortunately, I only have 10 minutes to talk.” It forces them to get to the point and keeps them relatively in check. Note: whatever “hard stop” you announce, just be aware that they will not adhere to it so be sure to give yourself a buffer.
  • Be aggressive and take charge – Emotional vampires tend to pray on our professional courtesies and politeness. They take charge of conversations and quickly turn the topic of conversation to themselves and what they want to talk about. They do not like aggressive conversationalists. If you are the one asking the questions of them and if you keep redirecting them back to the agenda, you’ll soon see that they will begin to avoid you. You prevent them from getting what they want and they don’t like that.

Emotional vampires leave shriveled hollow shells of colleagues in their wake. Stop them in their tracks with the strategies outlined above and they might just see the light. Then again, like most vampires, emotional vampires don’t care very much for the light and may just look for another home that is darker and less bright. Either way, you rid your workplace of those nasty pests.

Good luck, stay sharp and keep your garlic handy.

 


The Workplace Therapist Featured on The Today Show

For more, read the entire My Coworker is Scary series.


werewolf

My coworker is a werewolf

Is your coworker a workplace werewolf? One minute he or she is a pleasant and friendly colleague and the next they are foaming at the mouth, lunging at you with vicious verbal attacks. As a participant in one of my workshops recently told me, “I can go from zero to b—- in a hurry.” Working with a workplace werewolf is no easy task. Aside from the wounds, it can lead to its own kind of anxiety and self doubt. Just when you think you’ve had enough and you’ve figured them out, the full moon passes and they are back to normal leaving you scratching your head, wondering “what just happened?”. So if you think you’re working with a workplace werewolf, what can you do?

Watch for a Full Moon

Like any werewolf, a full moon triggers fangs, foaming and fury. If you think you’ve got a workplace werewolf on your hands, your first step is to identify his or her full moon. Maybe it’s his / her boss. Or maybe it is that customer that gets under their skin. Or perhaps it is something you can’t see like issues at home. Either way, if you know what their full moon is, you can learn to protect yourself by keeping a safe distance when you think they might be getting ready to “wolf out.”

Expect Amnesia

And like werewolves in the movies, most workplace werewolves claim to not know what happened during their full moon episodes. Call it embarrassment or a lack of self awareness, whatever may be the case, don’t expect a remorseful apology from a workplace werewolf. More likely they are going to go on as if nothing happened. This can leave victims not only tending to their wounds, but utterly confused. More importantly, it will make the story of vicious snarling attacks at the office difficult to swallow for higher ups that only see your mild-mannered co-worker.

Your Silver Bullets

You have a few options for dealing with a workplace werewolf. Consider the following silver bullets:

  1. If your workplace werewolf is a co-worker or a boss (but not THE boss) band together with other co-workers. Never allow yourself to be alone with the potential werewolf. Witnesses and team complaints are your best strategy to get others to take you seriously and investigate what “really” has been going on.
  2. If you want the werewolf to change their ways, confront the co-worker with the nasty truth. In most cases, the best solution for addressing a workplace werewolf is for the werewolf to be invited to leave. However, in rare cases it is possible for a workplace werewolf to change his or her ways. This requires an openness to feedback and a willingness to confront their inner beastie. With good coaching and hard work, change is possible. If you consider this route, be thoughtful on who delivers the message. Only the most trusted colleague will be able to deliver the news and not trigger another episode.
  3. If the werewolf is THE boss, pack your backs. Finally, if you have the unfortunate pleasure of working for a workplace werewolf that is THE boss of your office (in other words, they don’t have a boss AND can’t be fired), your best option is to leave. Confronting the boss werewolf in these situations may only anger them to historic proportions. While not ideal for fixing the werewolf problem, a quite exit may be your safest strategy.

So, if you find yourself in the clutches of a workplace werewolf, stay close to your friends, watch out for full moons and keep your silver bullets handy. Follow those guidelines and you should live to see another sunrise.

 


The Workplace Therapist Featured on The Today Show

For more, read the entire My Coworker is Scary series.


scary_graphic317

“My coworker is scary”

“My coworker is scary.” I must confess, I’ve been planning this dysfunction for quite some time, and since this is October, the month of creepy ghouls and ghastly ghosts, I thought, “how appropriate.” But these aren’t just entertaining campfire tales. There is a personal story behind each and every scary coworker I’m going to expose. Throughout my workplace adventures, I’ve barely escaped the clutches of office zombies, emotional vampires, workplace werewolves and corporate conjurers. My story begins with my first real corporate job. I distinctly remember my first day of work as I was walking down the spooky, dimly lit back office hallway looking for the bathroom. And there walking towards me lurched an older female co-worker. Her hair was disheveled, her clothes tattered and outdated and she had a distinct decaying odor. As she slowly crept towards me, her dead eyes staring off blankly, I went from curious to worried in a heartbeat. We reached each other and I timidly said “hello.” She didn’t respond, brushed passed me oblivious to the physical contact with my sleeve and continued down the hallway. It was my first real encounter with an office zombie. And the thing about office zombies, when there’s one, there are always more. I barely made it out with my brains intact from that job…

This month, we’ll tackle the following scary coworkers, creepy colleagues, banshee bosses and eerie employees:

  • The Office Zombies – Surviving their brain numbing existence is not for the faint of heart
  • The Workplace Werewolf – One minute, a mild-mannered colleague. The next, he/she is leaping over the cubicle and attempting to rip your face off
  • The Emotional Vampire – Charming, they lure you into their presence and suck the life out of you until all that is left is an empty exhausted shell
  • The Corporate Conjurer – The office witch or wizard, this sinister coworker can cast spells on the most innocent of colleagues to do their bidding

This month will not have any prescription on how you handle these beasties. No. We’ll be pulling out the silver bullets for this task. Stay tuned, look sharp, cover any exposed flesh, and don’t eat any apples lying about. Scary coworkers are not to be taken lightly.

 


The Workplace Therapist Featured on The Today Show

For more, read the entire My Coworker is Scary series.