- Do you work well with others? If your answer is no and it’s affecting your job, consider a few different personality types that have a more difficult time collaborating with others.
- Depressive personalities are hypersensitive and don’t take feedback well; if this sounds like you, you can improve your skills by taking baby steps and using one coworker as a sounding board.
- Narcissistic or antisocial personality types characteristically call on others when they need help and then drop them; to change this bad habit, try to be more compassionate and consider working with a therapist.
- Obsessive-compulsive personalities are easily overwhelmed by others and cope by immersing themselves in organization, order; you can improve by surrendering little by little and taking it from there.
- Whatever the case, you can evaluate your tendencies at work and then put changes in place to improve your relationships with your coworkers.
Sometimes, the most frustrating part of a job is working with fellow employees. For certain individuals, it’s simply too distracting; for others, it’s just unfavorable. And still, for others, it doesn’t quite fit with their personality type. Maria Shifrin, Ph.D., explains that one’s attitude and personality in the workplace can make collaborating with others a difficult feat. “For example, my advice for someone who is depressed and irritable would be completely different than that for a person who is narcissistic and lacks compassion,” she explains.
Consider the following personality types and how they might be affecting your ability to work with others. And if you find that you’re demonstrating similar behavior (to that of a depressive, narcissistic/antisocial, or obsessive-compulsive personality) at work, then consider Shifrin’s advice for working better with your coworkers moving forward:
Do they model a depressive personality at work?
These are the people who at their core feel bad about themselves and therefore cannot tolerate criticism, constructive as it may be. They are hypersensitive to negative feedback and appear to others as if they are fixated on the worst while discounting the positive. It can be hard to work with depressive people, and especially hard to manage them, as any effort to lift them up or motivate them begins to feel futile.
What can they do to improve these skills and work better with their coworkers? My first advice to anyone who struggles with recurrent negative thoughts about themselves is to try and find someone you feel is a nonjudgmental figure and use them as a sounding board. Most of the time, talking through interactions with someone you believe is caring and neutral can help reframe and balance your outlook to improve motivation and performance.
Do they have a narcissistic/antisocial personality at work?
Narcissistic personalities suffer from an inability to genuinely connect with others for the pure purpose of relating; in contrast, they depend on others for their value or usefulness in a given situation. Once they feel they have gotten what they need, they can quite harshly devalue and discard others. In the workplace, working oneself up the hypothetical ladder lends itself to these types of interactions. Working with people who have a characterological disposition to idealizing and/or then discarding can be extremely hurtful to individual relationships as well as overall morale.
What can they do to improve these skills and work better with their coworkers? I would advise anyone who starts to recognize that they are leaving a trail of damaged relationships to try and be more reflective, more honest with themselves about why. First, I’d suggest comparing work relationships to personal ones, and if you see a consistent pattern I might seek out a therapist to start exploring further. Then, I would suggest getting honest feedback from your supervisor, manager or boss and working with a therapist to help you integrate that feedback.
Do they assume an obsessive-compulsive personality at work?
People with a predisposition toward rigidity and perfectionism find relationships difficult because, at their core, they are averse to experiencing emotions; feelings are overwhelming for them so they immerse themselves in order and organization to avoid them. Relationships are full of feelings and so people who can’t manage them avoid them at all costs. Coworkers with obsessive-compulsive personalities can be extremely off-putting and seemingly impossible to work with; it’s all part of their defensive structure. What can they do to improve these skills and work better with their coworkers?
As with my other suggestions, insight is key. Understanding that the need for compulsive cleanliness and order is a cover for fear of emotion and true connection to others is a path to a more open and genuine connection and personal growth. For those who fit this description, start looking at the patterns of relationships in your lives. Do you avoid contact with others through obsessive organization and structure? If yes, start to experiment a little with giving up control. See what happens, what it feels like. Delegate a few tasks at work—what is that like? If it’s intolerable, seek out a friend, colleague, manager, partner, or mental health professional to talk it through.
In any case—whether one of the above personality types explains your difficulty in working with others, or not—you can evaluate your inclinations and behaviors at work to improve your relationships with your coworkers. First, understand how your current day to day is not fostering positive relationships with them. And then make due adjustments to work better with those who cohabit your workspace.