The 3 most common types of terrible coworkers and how to deal with them

How to deal with difficult coworkers without losing your mind
How to deal with difficult coworkers without losing your mind

A bad coworker isn't just annoying, they can actually be detrimental to your career. His or her behavior can make you feel constantly stressed, which decreases your productivity and can even lead to long-term health problems.

The good news is that, according to one psychiatrist who's studied the issue, most bad coworkers aren't evil, and can be dealt with.

Jody Foster, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of "The Schmuck in My Office," says understanding what type of person you're dealing with will help you better handle their off-putting actions.

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"If you can get your arms around the underlying anxiety that's driving people to act that way," Foster tells CNBC Make It, "it is a roadmap on how to keep them from getting anxious so they have to do that."

Here are the three most common types of bad coworkers and how to deal with them, according to Foster:

1. The narcissist

A narcissist is a coworker who "inflates their own sense of self-worth" and " demands to be fed only praise and vanity," Foster says.

Type signs include exaggerating accomplishments, blaming others for their shortcomings, interrupting others, taking credit for other people's work and lashing out when anyone questions them.

"Underlying this is a dichotomous self-esteem picture, with an underlying, deeply entrenched insecurity," she says.

If you're working with a narcissist, Foster suggests, try to get on his or her good side, without compromising your time or your integrity.

"Find opportunities to say 'You know, you do this really well,'" she says.

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Giving them occasional compliments will reduce their angry outbursts. But at the same time, it's important to also stand up for yourself. If he or she takes credit for your work, find ways to show you were involved, Foster says. For example, if you're submitting a big report, you can CC your boss or other colleagues involved in it. If your work is being discussed in a meeting, you can find ways to show that you were involved.

Of course, if an angry outbursts make you feel unsafe or you feel your contributions are consistently going unrecognized, tell your manager or human resources.

2. The bean counter

Another common type of bad coworker is what Foster calls the "bean counter." He or she is obsessed with details and doing things a certain way, and will often micromanage.

"There's an intense preoccupation with orderliness, perfection or control," Foster says. "These people are inflexible, they have difficulty with openness, decision-making and efficiency."

A common example of this is having to rewrite a proposal 10 times because a coworker wasn't happy with a project you two were working on.

Unfortunately, according to Foster, these types of people often get "inappropriately promoted." Often times, CEOs will want more time to think of big ideas and company strategies. Because of this, they feel they need someone who's very detail-oriented at their side. This can cause many employees to feel overworked and unhappy.

"For the bean counter, the underlying anxiety for them is an intense need for control," Foster says. "They want to be able to script out life."

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If you're dealing with a coworker who argues over every detail of a project, Foster recommends actually giving them a little control.

"I mean obviously you don't want to just give yourself up to that person," she says, "but you want avoid directly challenging their detail-oriented nature and express appreciation of their dedication."

Also, don't over-promise. These types of coworkers are hyper-focused on details and will become angry or frustrated if you promise to do something you can't.

"Understand this isn't about you," she says.

3. The Venus flytrap

Foster says this type of coworker can be best described as one that's "hot and cold" and only has "push-pull relationships."

At first, this type of person will boost your ego, compliment you and even make you feel like you're friends. But after a while, he or she will try to manipulate you or be openly mean.

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"They are characterized by intense and unstable relationships that start with tremendous overvaluation, they put you on a pedestal," Foster says. "What you don't know is that this exists on a cycle of overvaluation and devaluation."

A Venus flytrap might overshare his or her personal life with you in ways that are uncomfortable, try to get you involved in their own drama or even put you in uncomfortable workplace situations, such as flirting with you, Foster says.

This type of person most probably feels extremely bored with life and wants to fill a void, Foster says. The best way to deal with one? Consistently set boundaries — and enforce them.

With any of these types of coworkers, if you feel unsafe or can't do your work, it might be time to approach your boss. Consider keeping a list of negative interactions the dates when they occur, as well as meetings you've had in case the situation doesn't change and you need to approach human resources.

"Disruptive people can be anywhere and everywhere at any time we interact," Foster says. "When we don't approach difficult topics, they take root and they grow like viruses."

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