How to Be a Difficult Person at Work


With April Fools’ Day happening this week, people will be playing pranks in workplaces across the country.

Whether you are annoyed by co-workers who play pranks, co-workers who get upset at pranks, or co-workers who ignore the occasion, chances are you consider at least one of your co-workers to be difficult, and not just on April Fools’ Day.

Many books and articles offer advice on how to deal with difficult people. So this article will focus on the other part of this equation — how to BE a difficult person.

If you are an easygoing type who gets along with your boss, co-workers, and customers, being difficult won’t come naturally to you. However, by adopting some of the following behaviors, you can quickly become known as the difficult person in your workplace.

Focus on Problems

Let people know every time you notice something wrong, especially if you notice something your co-workers are doing wrong. Make minor problems into a big deal. For example, if you find a typo, circle it and bring it to the attention of the person who wrote it. Even better, send an email copied to your boss, or bring it up at a staff meeting.

When co-workers try to come up with solutions or better ways of doing things, tell them why nothing they suggest will ever work. Avoid contributing any solutions that could work.

Talk Too Much

Whenever someone casually asks “How are you?” assume they want to know every detail. Tell them about all the problems you are facing in your work and personal life, particularly your health and relationship problems.

If you notice the other person is turning towards the exit or trying to get away, talk more loudly and quickly. Continue talking without taking a breath to avoid giving them an opportunity to end the conversation and get back to work.

If you can’t find a co-worker to talk to, make numerous loud personal phone calls throughout the day.

Take Credit

Make sure you take all the credit for anything good that your company does. If you overhear an idea, act like you thought of it yourself when you bring it up at a meeting.

Forget people’s names, particularly when it comes to giving credit to others.

On the other hand, you should avoid taking any responsibility when things don’t work out. And don’t say you’re sorry if you make a mistake.

If you have ever watched The Apprentice, you know how project managers assign credit or blame. So be prepared to make one of the following statements when you are working with a team:
• If the project is a failure, tell the boss “They did it.”
• If the project works out okay, say “We did it.”
• If the project is a great success, say “I did it.”

Be Consistently Difficult

If your aim is to be seen as your workplaces difficult person, realize that you will need to be difficult on an ongoing basis. It is normal for almost everyone to exhibit a few bad behaviors on occasion, so if you want to stand out, being difficult must become a habit.

The following communication behaviors can help you maintain your reputation:
• When you want something, yell and demand that it be done “NOW!”
• When someone has an urgent deadline and asks for your help, say “That’s not my job.” Or point to a sign by your desk that says “A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”
• When you disagree with someone, use both verbal and non-verbal communication to let them know. Cross your arms, roll your eyes, and shake your head. Even if you’re not 100% sure of your position, tell people that they’re “wrong.”
• If someone seems upset, instead of listening to learn what’s going on, insist that they “calm down” or “relax.” If it turns out they are upset at something you did, say “You’re too sensitive” or “Can’t you take a joke?”
With minimal effort, you can probably come up with many additional ways to become the difficult person in your workplace.

By becoming that person you should be able to do your job without worrying about the possibility of being promoted to a more demanding position.

Or, even better, you might find that you finally get some well deserved time off — permanently!

Tag Goulet is co-founder of and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College, which offers certificates for dream careers. To contact Tag visit