By Joey Herrera on March 3, 2015
Just like family, the people you work with in the office are people you didn’t choose. Unless you’re a boss, a lot of final hiring decisions aren’t yours. While this makes for a lot of fun stories and human interaction, it can take a toll on your day-to-day if you simply can’t stand your officemates. Maybe familiarity breeds contempt, or someone has a tendency to take off their shoes during meetings, but you have to work with them nonetheless.
This becomes a bigger problem in the Philippines where pakikisama is such a big deal. It’s doubly hard to keep it professional when the bosses like to foster a family environment and regular videoke sessions. Not mingling can severely affect your opportunities to rise and make it to the top. People skills do count for a lot when it comes to getting along with officemates, and office friends always make work more fun and enjoyable.
To make it easier to navigate the deceiving waters of Philippine offices, here are the 5 main archetypes that you will have to deal with:
You know those officemates who have been there forever and look like they’re never going to leave? They’re lifers. They got on board a few years ago and are good where they are. They’re not looking for promotions anymore, they’re not looking to innovate or change things, they’re good with the status quo.
How to spot them: A layer of dust accumulating around their resume or CV. Or, a general disregard for company policy as they have tenure. They generally wear slightly inappropriate shirts, and try to get away with shorts if they’re dudes. Some subtle terrorizing towards new hires, and general complacency during performance appraisals. They are also the first to ask questions during company meetings about policy changes. Their HMO handbook is committed to memory.
How to deal with them: They generally stay out of your way as long as you don’t try to mess with their work spaces and never switch out their office chairs, because they would immediately know. They’re good workers and very dependable. They may look like they don’t care about what’s happening in the office, but lifers have stayed on for a reason: they are dependable, loyal, and have a deep love for the company. Just do your job and let them do theirs.
These people have seen too many episodes of Suits or Mad Men. They’re perpetually convinced that there are secret power struggles going on in the office, so they try to store as much information as they can about everyone either to protect themselves or get ahead. They may be friends with everyone, or get close enough to the admin department to know how each employee is doing. Agents may actually know your salary and how it compares to everyone else’s. Their heads look big because they’re full of facts that they can use for good or bad. Lurkers at parties and pantries, they listen in to conversations with headphones that are not connected to anything.
How to spot them: A sneaky look or a perpetual smile. They are great confidants but you don’t know where this information goes. They dress for the job they want, not the one they have… and they always want a higher position. Their CVs are perpetually updated and they are the first to spill office secrets when drunk. Really good agents know what’s happening in other offices too, and are constant sources of industry insider info, correct or otherwise.
How to deal with them: An agent can either be good or bad, just like spies. So try to keep your information to yourself until you’re sure who you’re dealing with. But they can be great when you’re trying to fish or get information out. If you want to find out if that cutie from another department is single, just drop a hint and you’ll soon find out if this person likes you back or not.
Much like the Lifers, these people have no need for office politics or drama. They simply want to come in, do their work, and leave. But unlike the Lifers, Grindstones can leave at any time, and they rarely confide in anyone. They keep their heads down and keep their nose clean, but most are secretly nursing a passion project that will get them out of the company or into another industry. They do brilliant work without having the passion for it and you’re always sad when they go. To them, their current job is just a day job, not a career.
How to spot them: If you see someone hunched over their laptop during lunch and they flinch when you say hi, they’re probably working on their passion project. They’re a little too cool for work, and don’t make friends easily in the office. They do their work fast so they can leave on time and work on the stuff they love. Their office headphones are often glued to their heads, hence they’re typically the last people to know office-wide gossip. They are super thrifty despite their racket bucks because they’re working on being financially independent.
How to deal with them:You’ll want them as teammate,s but they won’t do well as leaders. You will undoubtedly love working with them as long as they’re not horribly unmotivated. Work with them as often as you can and keep them inspired. They will have insights that are out of this world, and they work super fast. Get invites to their DJ gigs or art exhibits and support their passions. But don’t overload them with work, because the minute you do, they’ll dust off their resumes and head out the door.
The Titos and Titas
Not necessarily Lifers, but generally the older demographic of the office. Most are probably bosses already. They don’t often join post-work drinking sessions, but when they do, you will get loads of advice and insight. Titos and Titas often head departments and try to mentor the younger people in the office. They scold you when you are being inappropriate and tend to start the teasing. They’ve been around the industry for a while and are not afraid to show it. They are the secret group that decide whether you’re promotion material or not.
How to spot them: They typically look a bit older than their age, either through intentional dress or unintentional stress. A bit aloof when it comes to the first level employees but a bit more comfortable talking with middle management and other executives. Their advanced positions isolate them a bit from the rest of the office. They're typically seen sticking to their own group of Titos and Titas over coffee breaks but will join post-office get-togethers as long as they’re together.
How to deal with them: Let them give you advice, because they have lots. Pick through it and choose which you believe. But know that their years of experience are there to help you, so make the most of any face time you get because they are so aloof. Never get on the bad side of any of them, as they are tightly intertwined.
The Rage Monsters
Do not approach them on Mondays and mornings because they will not be very approachable. Stay out of their way when there’s Carmageddon going on. They will be pissed. And you will hear all about it. They can also be triggered by other people’s mistakes and a horribly busy day. Invest in noise-canceling headphones and practice your interested but not engaging and sympathetic face.
How to spot them: If there’s a broken mouse and a stress ball on the desk, you must be dealing with a rage monster. They can also be found smoking angrily, ranting on the phone, or firing off long, sarcastic emails. Furrowed brows and scowls are evident. May also be the sulky black holes during office drinking sessions and parties. Can also be found cornering unsuspecting victims and telling everyone what they think everyone else is doing wrong.
How to deal with them: They’re not always angry, but they’re quick to anger and slower to calm down. They’re perfectly happy people as long as you don’t do anything that sets them off. Try not to be too happy when they’re in a bad mood and don’t play Katy Perry when they’re already starting.
Chirp, chirp, chirp… they never stop talking. Typically oversharers, you will hear about the Birds' sex lives, and their friends’ sex lives, and their parents’ problems. They don’t necessarily have as much inside info as the Agents, but they have a lot of things to say. And they’re so happy! Even at 8am on a Monday, you can see them going around, saying good morning and being cheerful. They have so many things to say about everything and are probably high on the endorphins from their 6AM run or yoga session.
How to spot them: Crossfit or running posts on Facebook, also possibly gym selfies. They go around the office happy and carefree when everyone’s still hungover. May also be dancing or singing randomly with a constant smile on their faces.Depending on your mood, you can find Birds very annoying or very inspiring.
How to deal with them: If you need a dose of happiness, spend 30 seconds with one and you will feel instantly happy. Their stories are rarely sad and mostly self deprecating. They can be just what the doctor ordered if you’re in need of some sunshine. Working with them is generally a hoot even if they tend to derail discussions into funny and unimportant territory.
Most people can fall into a mixture of two or more of these archetypes, and maybe you even recognize yourself in some of these. None of them are necessarily bad personas, as long as you know how to play to each ones’ strengths and weaknesses. Just always remember that officemates are people too, and learn how to get along with everyone.Hang out with as many different people as you can and find friends that make work more fun.