Many of these Halloween “characters” surround us year-round at work, but we don’t recognize them because they wear business suites, sport jackets, dresses, high heels or maybe sneakers and jeans. In honor of Halloween, let’s figure out who they really are:
The Frog – The Frog is as annoying as a pesky mosquito on a hot summer night. He (or she) just doesn’t go away! Questions, stories and, like a real frog … ribbitt, ribbitt … he repeats himself endlessly. When you’re busy and you see the frog coming your way, your best bet is to make a dash for the restroom. You can only hope he’ll be gone when you get back to your desk.
The Fairy Princess – This coworker is beautiful and charming and she knows it. Thanks to her good looks and crafty social skills, she usually gets her way with her superiors – whether they’re men or women.
Lance Romance– Lance Romance is the male version of the Fairy Princess. In fact, if Lance and the Fairy Princess ever married, they’d never get to work on time because they’d spend too much time fighting over the mirror. He’s smooth, charming, good-looking and doesn’t seem to have to follow the rules meant for mortal men. No hair on his head would dare be out of place and he can climb mountains without breaking a sweat (or wrinkling his business suit). If he’s single and the boss is his wingman, you might want to buy the large bottle of Advil or, better yet, look for another job.
Richard Nixon– This employee drones on in a monotone voice that would be perfect for hypnosis commercials. He thinks he knows everything and that you actually want to hear him blab on and on about himself and how brilliant he is. If you have the misfortune of sitting next to him at a corporate social event, you better hope you have some cotton in your briefcase to plug your ears.
General George Patton– Neat and polished with a no-nonsense attitude, this character frowns on smiling, laughing or having any fun at all at work. He or she also lives in the past: the days of glory. When the ships were wooden and the men were iron (as opposed to today’s iron ships and wooden men). He especially likes to reminisce when you’ve got a deadline. If he’s the boss, just smile, nod and know you’re going to have to stay late because he’s enchanted by the sound of his own voice.
Calamity Jane (or Joe)– This coworker is kind and has a good heart, but she’s like an elephant in a china shop. When she enters the room, your anxiety level rises because you know something is going to go wrong, very wrong. The one time she used the copier, it blew up and you had to evacuate the building. Once she flushed the toilet and it wouldn’t shut off, flooding the entire floor. On the plus side, she’s always apologetic.
The Ghoul– This coworker is the walking dead. He hates his job, life, spouse, children, Mother’s Day, apple pie and anything funny! He doesn’t walk, he shuffles. And a smile? Forget about it. Believe it or not, the Ghoul actually left the job in spirit long ago, leaving behind only an empty shell still tromping around the office.
Do you recognize any of these Halloween characters lurking in your own workplace? While the character descriptions may be generalizations, they also serve as a helpful reminder: Look past your coworkers’ “masks” and consider how to better interact with them to create a productive and harmonious work environment.
And if you can’t escape their annoying character traits, then just give them a piece of candy and wish them a “Happy Halloween!”
Andy McCabe, Psy.D., graduated from the Rutgers School of Applied and Professional Psychology. He is a life coach and has presented programs on stress management to educational, health, law enforcement and corporate groups, as well as for the United States Navy. He is the author of The Gifted One: The Journey Begins. Visit his Web site at http://andycitybear.com.