conflict coworker

Photo: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc/Getty Images

6 of 6
The Conflict Junkies
Who They Are: Conflict junkies are a combination of all the other types described, grafted into the most toxic and hostile contagion to ever poison the workplace. If Ebola was a personality type, it would be a conflict junkie.

How to Identify Them: They are the pathological bullies who harass even the most well-intentioned staff; the combative co-workers everyone has a horror story about; the rebellious employees so caustic, they send their superiors into septic shock. They are completely resistant to civility.

What to Watch Out For: Like moles, conflict junkies may initially appear submissive, but this is a ploy that lasts only until they have adjusted to a new situation. Like pretenders, once acclimated, they become agents of disruption. CJ's go beyond the tactics used by directors to gain control, pitting colleagues against one another, sabotaging projects, undermining their superiors, withholding information to create conflict and misrepresenting situations to HR. Like panhandlers and headliners, they will go out of their way to feed their egos. The difference? They act with no concern for consequence, even when it threatens their own careers.

How to Protect Yourself: Handling conflict junkies is more than a one-person job. Take advantage of your organization's policies, regulations and stated values. Leverage all penalties available, even those that require legal action, if needed. Report their conduct to HR, and encourage others to do the same so that you can build a case for their termination. If they cannot conduct themselves rationally and respectfully, you should refuse to assist, comply with, respond to or even acknowledge them. If all else fails, consider asking to be reassigned or taking a new job.

*The categories featured were adapted from the book, Water For The Soul, with permission by the author, Michael Tyler.

Alicia Bassuk is a leadership coach and strategic advisor and can be followed on Twitter @aliciabassuk.