Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Surviving the Four Kinds of People at Work

May 4th, 2009 | Bob Rosner

Everything that I need to know about people at work I learned in Online Dating. Amidst the dull dates, intrigue and ships passing in the night, I’ve learned stuff that you can take to work. Trust me, knowing about the four groups of people will save you a lot of pain at work.

Group One. This is the smallest group. I call them the “Whole Truth and Nothing Buts” group. These people are scrupulously honest. I’m not sure they could lie, even if they wanted to. You always know where these people are coming from.

Group Two. This group is slightly larger than the first group, but still a relatively small slice of life. These are the pathological liars. They lie even when it doesn’t serve a purpose. One HR manager commented that the good part about a pathological liar is that they lie so indiscriminately, you can usually catch them by just checking little details, like if the dates they worked at a certain job are accurate. Lucky for all of us, this group is relatively small.

Group Three. This group is much bigger than groups one and two, combined. I first was introduced to this group when a woman who was six feet tall thought that was too tall to list in her online profile. So she put herself down at 5’10”. Unfortunately the great guy she found at 5’10” was really only 5’8”. Needless to say, they didn’t exactly see eye to eye. I call this group the “Rounding Errors.” It’s not really a lie, they just rounded things a bit.

Group Four. Unfortunately this seems to be the biggest group out there. To understand this group, I need to refer to one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes. It was one where Jerry needed to pass a lie detector test. So he went to the best liar he knew, his friend George. George said, “Jerry, there is one thing you must remember. It’s not a lie, if you believe it to be the truth.” I call this group the “Self-Deceivers.”

Think about the people you’ve come across at work. Chances are that you’ll find a lot of examples of “The Whole Truth and Nothing But…,” “Pathological Liars,” “Rounding Errors” and “Self-Deceivers.” Hopefully this will help you to better navigate your workday and to be a bit more charitable to groups three and four, because their mistruths probably aren’t intentional.

One final thought. These four groups also apply to you. Yes, it’s time for a small bit of humble pie. Talk to friends and colleagues to see which of the four groups you fit into at work. Chances are good that you may be surprised by where they place you. As hard as this information is to hear, I’d much rather learn it myself from friends that I trust.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

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