Watch out for that backstabber

PHOTO: Watch out for that backstabber
Office politics can be the worst part of a job. It can get so bad that people who entered the company with a burning passion to work will quickly lose their energy and motivation to do well. Some of the time, it can even burn someone out, causing them to dread work and leave the job they were once so excited about.

While it can be a dog-eat-dog world out there, reality does not have to consume you. If you find yourself unable to take part in office politics, then it is best to make sure you know the types of people you are dealing with. That way, you can not only anticipate what someone might do to make your life unbearable, you can also learn to take the behaviour of others in your stride and develop tactics to survive despite it.

Here are 8 types of characters you will find playing office politics. Beware - some people can take on more than one of these traits at the same time. The best way to overcome their hostility is to know their game plan before they can even execute it.

8 types of people who play office politics

  • A gossip monger gets his way by sharing the latest gossip with others. These people can appear kind or be your best friend, but can quickly turn around and sabotage or spread malicious rumours about you.
  • It does not matter how they get there - backstabbers will trample on others to get to the top. Beware of incurring their wrath when coming up against them.
  • This is the person who takes advantage of everyone selfishly. This person intimidates others by putting them down and making them feel small.
    One thing to note is that while you are all adults, bullies in the workplace work very much the same way as bullies in highschool - they make others feel small just so they can feel big.
  • He turns up at work but doesn't do anything useful - the slob is the team member everyone has to pick up after. Despite this, they often get away with their sloppiness, leaving others to wonder why they haven't been fired yet.
  • This person who never does any of the hard work, but is quick to claim credit for a job well done. The credit stealer will also push the blame on others for a botched job.
    Best way to deal with them? Keep records of all work you have done and beat them at their own game - claim credit on what you deserve before they can even notice the job is done.
  • He's never in the wrong and always better than others. This person must always prove he is the best, and cannot accept when others disagree with him.
  • This person pretends to be innocent all the time, even though there is some blood on his hands. He silently listens when others gossip and watches when justice is obstructed, but he never speaks up for anybody for fear of being penalised. Although he may seem innocent, by not speaking up, he actually helps injustice thrive in the office.
  • Curry-favouring is the bootlicker's battle strategy in office politics. He gets by by trying his best to get in the good books of powerful people like the boss and other more dominant colleagues.

6 types of toxic colleagues and how to deal with them

  • “My colleague uses foul language, criticises our work and makes us look incompetent. He says he’s ‘just honest and outspoken’.” – Karen*, 35, event planner
  • “My co-worker boasts about being close to the boss, making me feel like I’ll get into trouble if I don’t do as she says.” – Julia*, 38, accountant
  • Don’t share anything with her, says Ser Lee. “But be civil and maintain a good working relationship. Don’t step on her toes, but don’t allow her behaviour to affect your work either. Don’t feel pressured to take instructions from her. She may be close to your boss but she’s not the boss.”
  • “When my supervisor e-mails me, she copies the entire office. If I’m late for a meeting or make typos, everybody knows.” – Eva*, 30, production manager
  • E-mails should be on a need-to-know basis, says Paul Heng, founder and executive coach at Next Corporate Coaching Services in Singapore. “She could be trying to tarnish your image, or she’s lacking in e-mail etiquette.” Paul advises that you ask her not to copy the office on such e-mails and to let you know one-to-one if she’s displeased with your work.
  • “My colleague watches my every move because she fears being outdone. She’s doing all she can to get a promotion that’s up for grabs.” – Amelia Ho, 30, sales manager
  • “She seems unsure of herself, and it’s making her paranoid,” says Annemarie Cross, personal branding expert and career coach from Advanced Employment Concepts in Australia. “You’re doing something right, and this makes her nervous. Be wary about what you disclose to her; share only what is necessary for the team. If you get promoted, you may become her boss, which will change the dynamics.”
  • “My boss doesn’t allow for mistakes and hates it when we suggest better ways of doing things.” – Patricia*, 28, publicist
  • “Your boss takes her work very seriously – it is almost an extension of herself,” says Annemarie. “Her team’s results are a reflection of her, down to the smallest detail. Because she is averse to something going wrong, she is wary of trying anything new.” Propose changes in writing and back up your claims, Annemarie suggests. Present information early and explain the benefits.
  • “My co-worker only accepts instructions in black and white. She refuses to help unless the entire discussion is done via e-mail.” – Rebecca*, 36, marketing executive
  • “She’s afraid of getting into trouble, so she’s covering all her bases,” says Paul. “For minor matters, make it clear that you will discuss the issue in person or over the phone.” If she doesn’t ease up, Paul suggests telling her how her dogmatic working style makes the team feel like they are not trustworthy.

11 types of Singapore colleagues

  • If every rose has its thorns, then every office is bound to have its peculiar characters.
  • For most Singapore office workers, these come in the form of the 'taichi master'; the 'vacationer'; the 'serial stabbers'; the 'smart alecks'; the 'angkat bola'; the 'workhorse' and many more.
  • A video created by Night Owl Cinematics for recruitment website Recruit Plus has become a hit with netizens for its hilarious portrayal of the 11 types of colleagues most commonly found in Singapore offices.
  • The short 3-minute clip features an office with 5 actors playing out 11 characters typically seen in local workplaces.
  • It has garnered close to 60,000 views since it was uploaded on YouTube last Thursday.
  • Another typical colleague many office workers are familiar with is the 'angkat bola' (Malay for carry balls) colleague.
  • This colleague is known to curry favour the boss by singing praises and doing personal favours out of his/her jobscope for the boss.
  • The colleague who always has a gripe and constantly tells everyone she wants to quit her lousy job.
  • She can talk about how bad her job is at anytime and anywhere.
  • Her co-workers are used to hearing about her thoughts of quitting.
  • However, she only has praises to sing about the job when she sees her boss.
  • One who provides you with information on other colleagues whether or not you need it or want it.
  • This colleague is usually itching to tell others about what she knows.
  • The number of secrets she knows about others is often endless.
  • This colleague has a flair for creative reasoning.
  • He dishes out creative and out-of-this-world excuses in order to get out of work.
  • Such colleagues are more than happy to push the blame on others or make someone else look bad.
  • They tend to stab colleagues in the back, especially when their colleagues are not around.
  • If a superior asks about a certain event, these colleagues are quick to deny any involvment.
  • They will also immediately point fingers at other who are more vulnerable.
  • This colleague is called the taichi master as she pushes all kinds of work delegated to her onto others.
  • When told to complete a task, she tells another colleague to do it instead.
  • Not surprisingly, this colleague is also a taichi master. She tells someone else to do as well.
  • The foreign bimbo could be someone educated overseas or an expat.
  • This colleague is usually not familiar with local customs and can appear rude or eccentric.
  • She may offend others in the office without even knowing it.
  • The newbie in the office tends to always seem over-excited compared to the older workers around her.
  • She can often appear too happy while others are struggling to get through the week in one piece.
  • They pretend to know everything.
  • In the end, they take up more work they they can handle and risk jeopardising projects.
  • Her catchphrase: 'Can you do for me?'
  • This colleague can never do anything on her own. She needs someone to do even the smallest things for her.
  • A seriously overworked employee who is nagged and shouted at constantly.
  • He is worked so hard that he collapses on the floor.