5 Toxic Workplace Personalities and how to manage them

Every organisation has them – the people with challenging personalities who contribute to on-going conflict in the workplace. Let’s look at the worst of these and how best to manage their behaviour.


The Sniper makes rude comments, uses sarcasm and rolls their eyes.

The Solution: Do not react to the Sniper. Their power comes from covert activity so expose their position. Use intent questions, such as “when you say that, exactly what do you mean?” or relevancy questions, such as “what does that have to do with this?”


The Yes Person will say yes to any request you make of them but will have difficulty in meeting deadlines.

The Solution: Don’t blame the Yes person – they will just try to placate you. To get commitments you can count on make it safe for them to be honest. Help them learn to plan. Ask them to summarise the commitment.


The Know It All has a low tolerance for correction and contradiction. Their intent is to get things done in the way they have determined is best.

The Solution:Be prepared and know your stuff. If you don’t paraphrase what they’ve said, they will most likely repeat it over and over again. The Know It All often has specific criteria and if they doubt your idea, it is because these criteria aren’t being addressed. Show how your idea takes these factors into account.



The Grenade’s primary intention is to obtain appreciation. If the intent is not met, their behaviour becomes an immediate demand for attention. Anything can pull the pin on a grenade that’s ready to go off. The Grenade often does not like themselves or their behavior.

The Solution: Take control of the situation when the Grenade starts to lose it. Keep your tone and language friendly. Show genuine concern by listening closely. Listen to first few statements – they usually hold the key to the explosion. When you notice their intensity reduce a little reduce yours. When “explosion” has downgraded take some “time out” and come back to the issue later.


The Tank is the ultimate in negative pushy behaviour. When you’re under attack by the Tank, you have been identified as part of the problem. This type can be loud and abusive or quiet, intense and precise.

The Solution: Defining, justifying or explaining your position won’t help. Your goal is to command respect because Tanks don’t attack those they respect. Show you are strong, assertive and capable. Never slam door in “Tank’s” face as they may crash through again.


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