MONEY Workplace culture

These Are the Most Infuriating Office Personalities

If you’ve held numerous jobs, you may have noticed that various archetypes appear in every workplace.

It’s a fact of life that you’re not always going to get along with everyone you work with. That’s OK, though. You’re a grown-up, and you come to the office to work, not to make friends.

Still, if you’ve held numerous jobs, you may have noticed that various archetypes have appeared in every workplace. The struggling artist, the millennial planning her wedding, the 40-something planning her divorce. The names may change, but the shticks remain the same.

When the shticks in question come in the form of a grating, unbearable personality whose behavior is an exact replica of one that you left at your previous job, it can be a real morale destroyer. That’s why the best thing to do is take note of these personalities, and resolve to avoid them in the future when possible.

Toward this end, MONEY presents a list of 10 infuriating office personalities to steer clear of. Anyone who’s been in the workforce for a few years will recognize them. Read on…

Daniel Bukszpan is a New York-based freelance writer.

  • Debbie Downer

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    We all have our bad days, but for Debbie Downer, they’re known as “weekdays.” Every email that hits her inbox elicits a groan, before she even opens it. Every project produces interminable complaining. And coming in on time is out of the question. After all, that would rob her of the opportunity to complain about the traffic.

    Debbie Downer is of course free to take matters into her own hands and skirt these problems by leaving for work a little earlier or staying a little later to get caught up. Suggesting this to her, however, is verboten, and your best bet is just to put on headphones and let her flail.

  • The Diverter

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    There are a lot of projects coming up, and not much time to execute them. The best way to communicate this urgency is to call a meeting, and quickly get everyone on the same page. Too bad you invited The Diverter, whose greatest joy in life is to interrupt a meeting midstream and turn it into a whole other meeting, whose agenda items include him, him and him.

    Did you know that he has dry cleaning to pick up today? Or that next weekend is his daughter’s ballet recital? Lucky for you, he’s decided that your meeting is the ideal forum to bring everyone up to speed on these fascinating developments. The best part is when you try to regain control of the agenda, and his jaw drops over the fact that you had the audacity to interrupt him.

  • The Information Hoarder

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    You’ve been hearing some things from the grapevine, and none of them are good. Terms like “reorg” and “human resources” and “redundant” have been swirling around, and if your boss could just throw a little information your way, it would really help calm your nerves, or at least give you time to prepare for the inevitable.

    If your boss is The Information Hoarder, don’t bother asking. This person holds back any and all information that may pertain to your situation, as he does with any other knowledge that might help you in some small way. The Information Hoarder derives all his feelings of power from the knowledge that he knows something that you don’t.

  • The International Man of Mystery

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    As human beings, we pursue those who retreat from us. Indeed, few people in the world fascinate us more than those who won’t give us the time of day. The International Man of Mystery understands this, and therefore never picks up his phone, never answers his email and never sits at his desk.

    Due to his scarcity, you will blow off everything – friends, family, coworkers, current projects, you name it – when The International Man of Mystery finally deigns to grant you five minutes. Unsurprisingly, he’ll show up 20 minutes late for those five minutes, and invoke “running late” as his reason for cutting the meeting off after two minutes.

  • The Jonestown Resident

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    The Jonestown Resident is convinced that he is the subject of machinations designed to stymie his professional advancement. He believes that every setback, every challenge and every delay is a deliberate plot, designed to destroy him.

    He is certain that everyone around him is hatching Machiavellian plots to undermine him and take his plumb job. The best advice is to avoid this individual at all costs and work with him only when there is absolutely no other choice. Otherwise he will inevitably put you on his enemies list.

  • Little Miss TMI

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    Have you ever wondered what your 20-something coworker did on Friday night, how much she had to drink or if she suffered a hangover from it? No? Well, too bad. Little Miss TMI is going to fill you in on the fascinating details anyway, whether you want to hear about it or not.

    Luckily for you, this is one scenario in which you can actually retaliate. When Little Miss TMI starts in, interrupt her and insist that she look at photos of your children. Forward her the Zillow listing for the house you’re closing on. Ask what she thinks about the retirement account options your financial adviser has recommended. As her eyes glaze over with boredom, enjoy a brief moment of revenge.

  • The Loud Desk Eater

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    Hey, we’ve all been there. It’s 2:30, you’re slammed with work and you’re starving. The only option is to eat at your desk, but since you’re not a philistine, you take great care not to emit any onerous chewing noises, smacking noises or any other sound that would engender glares of disgust from your cubicle mates.

    The Loud Desk Eater has no such hangups. In fact, The Loud Desk Eater will not even wait until he’s bogged down with work to eat at his desk – he does it every day. And don’t think that his avoidance of raw vegetables will buy you his silence. He’s able to extract a surprising amount of volume out of oatmeal.

  • The Low Talker

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    People who talk too loud are a common curse in most offices, distracting and interrupting everyone within earshot. But the loud coworker isn’t the only one who uses volume as a weapon. The Low Talker does it too, by talking so quietly that you have to lean in to hear what he has to say.

    Lest you think The Low Talker is doing this to be considerate, think again. Consideration for the office has nothing to do with it. The Low Talker does this as a tactic to get the undivided attention of everyone who can see his lips moving — and chances are, it works.


  • The No Context Meeting Inviter

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    What’s that in your inbox? It’s a meeting invitation, and it says when and where to be, but not what it’s about. This is because The No Context Meeting Inviter has summoned you, and it’s anybody’s guess what’s going down in that half-hour that he’s blocked out in conference room B.

    Maybe you’ll get lucky and it’s just a baby shower. Maybe it’s farewell drinks for a departing colleague. Or maybe all those people you don’t know in the cc field of the email are corporate lawyers, and you’re about to be sued. Who knows? The No Context Meeting Inviter does, that’s who, and he’s content to let you sweat until you find out the hard way.

  • The Spoiler

    Illustration by Julia Bohan

    It’s Monday morning, and due to circumstances beyond your control, you didn’t get to watch “Game of Thrones” last night. You were looking forward to catching up on it tonight without knowing what’s going to happen, but The Spoiler has other plans for you, and loudly announces every twist, every character death and every revelation.

    Whether it’s just forgetfulness or a sick compulsion to ruin things for others, The Spoiler cannot resist the urge to divulge sensitive plot points to anyone standing near a water cooler. So steer clear of him on Monday morning, unless you want to know who dies in the season finale without actually seeing it for yourself.

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