There’s a table I once saw that compares earth to a small village of 100 people, of which 61 live in Asia, 48 are men, and so on, making the earth easier to visualize and understand. When you think about it, you don’t even need to go as far as a village—the companies we work at are microcosms in and of themselves. Of course, to some, the workplace might feel like Jupiter with its giant, raging storms, or Neptune with its savage atmosphere, or like an orbiting comet in a vicious cycle: *fiddles with letter of resignation* — “I’m quitting tomorrow!” — *salary lands in bank account* — “OK, one more year!” — and… repeat.
There is an an odd similarity between a company and the world. To be honest, I think it’s something that is common to anywhere there are groups of people—be it groups of seven or seven billion—because humans constantly toe the line between their social nature and instinct. Recruitment season for the first half of the year is nearly here. And a common discussion point for all jobseekers, whether they are new to the job market or more experienced, is always ‘people’. What’s the corporate culture like there? How’s the general atmosphere? Such questions are on the list of things they want to know, and some even search Facebook to figure out what the people they’ll be working with are like … All in all, it’s obvious that coworker problems are not a small issue.
So I took a moment to think about this over a glass of wheatgrass juice today. What kind of people were at the companies I’ve worked at? And it was more amusing than I had expected. All kinds of people were distributed throughout the office—next to the window, the wall, behind the partition, in front of the bathroom, near the door, sitting next to the manager, and so on. They were all placed in their various positions, each with their unique personalities.
Although I wrote this just for laughs, those of you preparing to start a new job can also think of it as a lighthearted tutorial about the people you might encounter in the workplace. But, this list is based on my own experience, so be aware that there are people more diverse and even stranger than those described here. The world is much bigger and more populated than we perceive it to be.
1. The early bird:
Always shows up early, drinks a cup of Kanu (a brand of instant coffee), and organizes their desk.
2. The one who is always 5 minutes late:
Is always a fascinating five minutes late, no more, no less. This is probably because they wake up at the same time every day. The subway schedule is pretty much the same everyday, so they’re probably taking the same train every day.
3. The one who is always a minute early:
The person that takes the train that comes right before #2’s.
4. The one with the mechanical keyboard:
clickclickclickclick clack clickclickclickolick clack clack clickclickclickclickclick. Announces their feelings and/or the urgency of their work aurally.
5. The quiet one:
Doesn’t talk all day. Just works. Also tends to use a silent mouse.
6. The mood scanner:
Keeps track of the overall mood of the office and the team manager. The one that asks things like “Did the team manager drink a lot yesterday?” Can be found at work get-togethers sighing into their drink: “I’m so tired of having to take care of all of every little thing.” But no one has ever asked them to get involved…
7. The pixel lover:
Not a designer but obsesses over pixels and alignments. Tells you, also not a designer, to align the pixels on a page. The designer next to you throws you a pitying glance for about two seconds. They go on and on about pixelspixelspixels … and then you think, maybe it’s because that’s the only thing they know about design.
8. The snack hoarder:
Has filled their second drawer with foreign snacks. They obviously also have the standard peanut cream biscuits, candy, and potato chips. But they mainly have Kit Kats, Japanese Ryoce’ chocolates, and three-month-old Taiwanese pineapple cake.
9. The wiseman at noon:
Knows all the best restaurants within a 500-meter radius and is full of information about the menus and prices. Gives reviews about the food too. These people are particularly sensitive to weather and feel the need to pair the right kind of food with the day’s forecast. But their preferences are often overruled by the hangovers or sugar lows of higher ups.
10. The higher up:
Usually makes the final decision on where to go for lunch.
11. The one who’s lower than the higher up:
Slightly lower than the higher up and decides where to go for coffee.
12. The perfect worker ant:
Works and works and works and works. (Hoorah! Hoorah!) A perfectionist that tries to avoid mistakes by standardizing the page layouts, fonts, character spacing, and styles of reports. Highly likely to wear glasses. (Hoorah! Hoorah!) A bit of a workaholic.
13. The one in the hoodie:
There’s always someone who wears a hoodie. Most likely a developer or a designer. Even more likely a web developer or publisher.
14. The punching bag:
Always being berated. One these people are in the doghouse, they’re more likely to get chewed out again for repeating the same mistakes… and then end up being on the receiving end of louder and more colorful rants. You feel bad for them and think the boss is going too far, but for some reason, everyone else seems to keep them at a distance too. This isn’t good.
15. The haunter:
You wonder why they don’t go home. Perhaps they never go home?
16. The mystery shopper:
Looks at clothes on their work computer for some mysterious reason. They don’t seem to be making purchases. It seems like the point is to just browse. Especially when the seasons change or during the cherry blossom season, their fingers get busier, scrolling and pressing alt+tab.
17. The one who doesn’t eat lunch:
There’s a high likelihood there’ll be someone who doesn’t eat lunch because they are on a diet, are on medication, stayed up all night last night, are too tired, need a nap, have a prior engagement … I’ve done this too, and the real reason is that you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you don’t feel well, other times you feel awkward… and sometimes you just really, really need that nap.
18. The one who goes to the bank:
There are always one or two people who say they’re going to the bank or post office after lunch. You might wonder if anyone really needs to visit the bank so often but the company’s administration team does and sometimes things have to be sent as certified mail. The majority usually come back with a cup of coffee in hand. Perhaps they do it because they need some alone time.
19. The sick:
Has an ongoing variety of symptoms and illnesses from light fevers and nasal inflammation to dry eyes, gastritis, and skin trouble. They frequently visit clinics and pharmacies, while getting plenty of rest by making full use of their available half days or full days off.
20. The superhero:
It doesn’t seem like they do anything big, but these are talented individuals that gets things done and do them well. It’d be great if there were a lot of these, but they’re unfortunately few and far between. And even if they exist, their superpowers don’t come to the fore unless there is a urgent need. Because superheroes prove themselves in times of crisis.
21. The memer:
Has a great sense of humor and a lot of memes! Their sharp wit and banter make work lunches and dinners fun. They post gifs they’ve found on Naver Bboom or dogdrip.net to the company groupware.
22. The Elsa, or the ice princess:
Painfully shy. Highly likely to wear glasses. Tends to leave you hanging when you say hi or try to talk to them. They scurry past you when they see you, and although they seem to have no problem chatting with other people, they only talk about work-related things with you. But don’t go thinking, “Oh … [he/she] obviously has a crush on me and can’t even look me in the eye. How cute…” They are either really shy or they really dislike you.
23. The non-player character (NPC):
If you ask a question, they give you an elaborate answer full of details you don’t even need. To newbies, they are like rain in a desert. They often give out morning coffee, cigarettes, or vitamin drinks.
24. The fact attacker:
Always speaks their mind. Frequently argues with managers. Has a strong moral compass and values logic. Enjoys saying, “I mean, it’s only logical that …” These people tend to be fast talkers and their voices are as powerful as Jo Sumi’s.
25. The techie:
Has a lot of expensive, fancy tech, like a 27″ iMac and accessories, an electric fan, an iPad Pro, an iPencil, a foldable laptop… This type usually has an electric scooter at home.
26. The reaction master:
Doesn’t say much but their laughter is loud and boisterous. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
27. The haute couture:
Exudes fashion from head-to-toe every. single. day. This type is rare. Most people only get dressed up when they’ve got plans for after work, which can draw nosy questions like, “Ohhh, are you going on a date?” In such cases, just answer, “Nah, just going on a job interview.”
28. The politician:
Continually forming factions. Active abilities include talking smack behind people’s backs and eliciting agreement with “Right? Don’t you think?” Passive abilities include whispering, frequenting the break room, and going on smoke breaks with the smokers. As with any politician, be careful about getting involved.
29. The Excel master:
You’ll have a lot of questions for them. They tend to wear glasses, have a ready smile, and dress neatly.
30. The Powerpoint master:
The future-oriented individual who produces better results with Powerpoint than many can do with Photoshop. The Powerpoint master usually heads home late.
31. The soon-to-be-dead:
The incredibly intense person whose entire life is on the line for every little thing … I’m so tired I’m going to die, I can’t do this any more, I’m so sleepy I’m going to die, I’m so full I’m going to explode, my back is killing me, the quiet is killing me … They’re a bit of a Debbie Downer and they drag you down with them.
32. The or-not:
This type says they don’t like something, but instead of proposing a solution they back off with a passive-aggressive “That’s just my opinion.” They act like the office is guerrilla warfare. But such strategies aren’t great in the workplace.
33. The JTBC Newsroom:
Seems to know everything about everything. Given a chance, they’ll say, “Oh, I know that!” Their knowledge is wide but shallow, so they don’t like it when you delve too deep. They pore over the news and “bookmark” a lot of posts to Facebook.
34. The Xerox:
Not a superhero character. This person is the master of the multifunction printer. When something goes wrong, they can fix it, which they usually do by tapping, opening, or closing things. They also know how to use the the less frequently-used functions of the machine, like automatically sending a scan to your computer or setting up the printer’s IP address. Sometimes this type knows how to organize the internal phone lines and LAN cables … if you don’t have a person like this, you’re in trouble if you change desks.
35. The company couple:
Everyone knows about them, but they don’t realize it. Occasionally spotted coming out of the emergency stairwell five seconds apart.
36. The old fogey (kkondae):
You were probably wondering when we’d get to this one. These kkondae come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s hard to lump them all under one definition, but there are mainly two types: the unloading kkondae who unload their workload onto you and do nothing themselves, and the storytelling kkondae who wax lyrical about the good old days, their families, or lame sex jokes. Yeah … I hate both types.
37. The inbounder:
Amazing at taking calls. Sounds easy, right? Think again. When I worked at a call center, I once read and practiced the same script for ten days straight. You definitely need training for calls.
38. The no-no-er:
Says no to 99% of requests. It’d be fun to see what they’ll say yes to — so keep asking!
39. The Coffee Angel:
Occasionally brings coffee in the mornings. Thank God they exist.
40. The serial mistaker:
Bubbly and cheerful but constantly makes mistakes. NOT thorough. It’s like they left their attention to detail in the basement like the spinning top in Inception. They need people like #41.
41. The nano observer:
This type immediately notices a single typo, misaligned spacing, or the wrong line thickness in a design proposal. Wrong numbers not tolerated, documents are organized and bound. The attention to detail is breathtaking. But they don’t think so. If #40 has the ability to run things, eloquence, and power to take action, the two of them can make a great team. I’ve seen it firsthand, and it was fantastic.
42. The noblesse:
Likes to emphasize their superiority with a wealth of knowledge and references that no-one else, newbie or veteran, can hold a candle to. With their extensive experience and professional, field-specific lingo, they ask, “Is this difficult?” “Did you check this?” Depending on the circumstances, this can be a blessing or a nightmare.
43. The therapist:
There’s always a manager who’ll take employees for coffee for one-on-one meetings. They listen, coax, and console as needed. They usually target employees that are good at their jobs. Although these counseling sessions seem like they resolve something, they actually only provide temporary relief.
44. The almost-free:
There are always a few who have either given their notice or are considering quitting. They travel in groups of two or three and often share information about quitting. “I’m so jealous!” “How does the other place look?” When they eventually start acting on their plans, you might notice people leaving the company every other month.
45. The field instructor
Points out exactly what you need to do and how you need to do it. Thinks field manuals are important. Of course, on the other hand there are the “it’s fine” believers, who preach “Just do whatever”, “That’s good enough”, and “Just leave it.”
46. The teacher:
Has a way of talking like a teacher. They follow up a lot of sentences with phrases like, “Right?” “For example …” “Do you get it?”
47. The straight-face master:
Armed with seriousness and strictness, the straight-face masters often counter jokes with next-level seriousness. They tend to talk for a while and are always trying to explain something. Some people call them boring. They can be on the receiving end of comments like, “Ugh, what a weirdo.” But they’re not weird. It’s just how they are.
48. The SOB:
Completely unrelated to #47, the SOB is someone who I just really don’t get along with. This person is usually the biggest contributing factor to your quitting.
49. The innovator:
Wants change, all the time. If the CEO is an innovator, the employees are in a precarious position. If an employee is an innovator, they’ll often hear comments like “There he goes again.” Hopefully your office can establish a mature work culture with a healthy balance between change and reality.
50. The secret Santa:
Yes, the office is a place of business, and nowadays people reject the notion of a family-like atmosphere at work. Still, there’s a always a friend hidden in that pack. Not just someone you click with conversationally or work-wise but someone who becomes a real friend. They say not to make friends at work … but this isn’t something you can really control, right? You never know, you may stay friends outside the company after one or both of you quit. There aren’t many of these. If you’ve found one, count this a success.
A round of applause to you for the relentless scrolling that got you here. The office is a place that buzzes with a wide variety of people. People gather for the purpose of working, but really, everyone has their own story and their own personality. Having a common goal doesn’t mean we share the same desires or motives. Yes, experience and skills are definitely important. But working at a company involves more than simply being good at your job. It’s more “I’ve got these skills and special perspectives to share with you!” than “I’m so smart and you sure ain’t!”
So being able to articulate what your abilities are and share your skills with others is much, much, much more important. Employment season has started in earnest , and spring approaches! Which means everyone at the office will start feeling really drowsy… I wish you happiness and beautiful, cherry-blossom-like relationships at work!