Having worked in several offices in the past few months as a temp, I have had the luxury of being given that bottom of the pile, observational position whereby witnessing the character traits and hearing the office gossip has been suitably possible and almost unavoidable. After all, who cares if ‘the temp’ is sitting in on the conversation about that affair with the boss – who will she tell? While there have been all sorts of interesting characters as I have trailed in and out of converses and heels (depending on how cool or corporate the office vibe is) I have made a list of five of the most common characters that I have been (un)/ lucky enough to encounter in my early office experiences.
NB. All experiences and encounters are my own observations and personal experiences I am in no way generalising the working world/ wanting to offend anyone who feels they fit into one of these categories!
1) The Know It All Normally this person is a woman (although I am sure in some professions it could be a male). Said person also has a mediocre role in the office but with enough power to feel incredibly important. The best example I can give is an office manager. She is in charge of the stationery cupboard and filing rack, yet treats it like a military procedure and will not let anyone stand in her way, especially when it comes to choosing which pen to order. She has a strong opinion, likes to hear her own voice and is bossy. She especially likes to make those few that work FOR her feel very small and dumb. “Don’t you remember, I told you that file 1043DFK is for the fifth housing estate run by our deputy manager’s brother”. Urg, no gulp. The Know It All, although extreme and annoying, normally means well and if you get her a drink at the end of the day, usually transforms into a different person.
2) The Highly Important One – Do Not Look At Me If You Are Not A Manager Too Normally an executive of some kind, or the highest of the high, this person will be super kind and jolly to all of those who hold a similar status, or if they are male. This person, however young has forgotten what it was like to be at the bottom of the ranking order and if you so much as sneeze in the wrong diameter from where she is sitting, you will be in some kind of trouble. Do not offer to make this person tea unless they are in a good mood and especially don’t think it a good idea to knock before entering their room to deliver post in their inconveniently placed postal tray – this requires for them to answer back in some way, and if they aren’t in the mood to talk to such a low level of staff – they won’t. Stay away from this person until you become someone significant in their office. Or wait until you become famous and wish them a happy birthday.
3) The Office Gossip (Bitch) There is always one who likes to find out everything. Be careful who you tell your deepest secrets too at work and never email anything that can be viewed by this nosey parker, they will find a way! This person will stay after hours with a best friend/ work partner in crime/ bitching buddy to gossip about the outcasts, the annoying and the plain weird. They will also gossip about you if you did the slightest thing to upset them. They will act like your best friend to your face, but you never really know what they are thinking. Don’t worry though, like in all fairytales, the OG never wins in the end. They don’t always use their brain before their mouth and those emails that they send around – well they can sometimes end up to the wrong recipient.
4) The Weird One If you don’t know who this person is, then beware – it might be you!! (I joke of course, nobody who reads my blog is weird). Weird is a word that can branch out in many directions, and I admit that I am stealing some of my friend’s stories for this one. This person could either tell ridiculous compulsive lies, talk to themselves at their desk or cry uncontrollably at the smallest of things. Weird can also extend to clothes – there is always someone that tries to be the next best thing for the office edition of Vogue, but gets it oh so wrong. Just yesterday, I met a lady wearing an above the knee dress, boots – but no tights. She was far too old (and the weather far too cold) for it to even be considered okay. The weird one is always harmless and if you take a moment to just be nice to them, they will thank you for life.
5) The Jolly One This one is happy, always. They are cheerful in the early morning when you just want to chill and get on with your work, and stay that happy right until the end of the day. They are friends with everyone and never, ever say a bad word about anyone – no matter what they do to them. They offer to make you tea, bring in cakes made by their children/ sign up to run charity marathons/ lend you that extra pound in the canteen. The jolly one is nice, kind and very happy and appears to lead the perfect existence. She is sorted and has it all – but does she? Sometimes this jolly one is masking her not so jolly private life. However, some jolly ones are actually just plain nice. If so, then they are a great addition to the team. And if they ever snap on the rarest of occasions, then you almost breathe a sigh of relief – even the J O can be human!
Other characters – the flirt, the working mum, the single man, the temp, the down to earth, the geeky, the kind and the normal.
Heres to all of those who work and long live their characters – as it makes it a far more colourful working day for all us normals!
Do you have a similar person in your office?