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Workplace Whiners and the Other Coworkers You'll Know

Image via Lipik/

Today in The Wall Street Journal Sue Shellenbarger discusses a type of coworker you've surely had the occasion to work with, assuming you've been working in an office environment for any time at all. This is, Shellenbarger writes, the "workplace whiner." Not only are such coworkers an inherent productivity problem—did you know that just listening to someone complain constantly can undermine your own performance?—but also, God almighty, they are annoying. You're just trying to complete that spreadsheet peacefully, a bagel and coffee by your side, and suddenly you have to listen to innumerable gripes about the office water bubbler temperature, really? 

Shellenbarger points out, though, that it's not always so easy just to shut your ears and try to ignore. Listening and nodding can backfire and make you the subject of the complainer's next complaint. Telling someone they complain too much rarely goes well. And while the experts recommend "setting an example" and attempting to bond, that's not too appealing in the fifth hour of your coworker's screed about his or her latest perceived injustice. You can buy headphones, of course, but will they even work? All of a sudden, you're complaining, too!

Tips in Shellenbarger's piece to combat all this include changing the subject, zoning out, asking your whiny coworker what he or she plans to do about the issue or suggesting taking it to a superior, moving your desk to a complaint-free zone, and so on. Some bosses have even incorporated cash reward programs for workers able to keep from complaining or gossiping for a certain amount of time. But this got us thinking: Is the workplace whiner the worst sort of office inhabitant? There are plenty of others, too, and they are indisputably grating in their own ways. The list goes on and on, but here are a few.* 

The Employee Who's Never Had a Bad Day in His Life. Arguably worse that the workplace whiner, this coworker is insufferably happy. Really, just thrilled, rainbows and teddy bears and cupcakes and roses, about everything. Mr. Sunshine, you call him, behind his back, but you could say it to his face because he wouldn't mind. He takes it all—compliments, criticisms, the fire drill, the fact that the only available coffee is hazelnut—in stride, and he has been known to laugh at his own jokes as hard as he laughs at those of others, but mostly, he's just a big grinning fool always on the verge of another positive statement or belly laugh. Especially egregious on a Monday morning, the EWNHABDIHL is, however, probably your best bet for happy hour drinks, and can stop a workplace whiner in his tracks because his mood cannot be felled by anyone. (You may have no idea what this person's job is. It doesn't matter.)

Read more at The Atlantic Wire.

(Image via Lipik/

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