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The average person will work 90,000 hours in their lifetime. According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, who you spend those hours with will determine how long you’ll live, how happy you’ll be, and how much you’ll earn over the course of your career.
It’s not just who you work with, but also who you don’t work with that matters. Do you want to be in an environment where everyone tries to outdo each other? Or do you prefer collaboration to competition?
The people you work with can significantly affect your job satisfaction and career growth. If you’re not happy with your current situation, consider looking at your peer group and seeing if it’s time for a change.
You know the saying “you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends”? Well, the same goes for choosing your co-workers. There are co-workers to seek out and co-workers to avoid at all costs. Let’s first discuss the three types of co-workers you’ll want to avoid:
1. The complainer
Nobody likes a complainer. This person is forever complaining about something, whether it’s about work, the company, your co-workers, or anything else. They are never happy, and they always bring everyone else down.
Related: What to do when your co-workers are not working
3. The competitor
The competitor is the person who is always trying to outdo you. They are always trying to make themselves look better by making you look worse. Your success threatens them and they will do anything to bring you down.
3. The Playwright
The playwright is always making a big deal out of everything. They are always exaggerating and they are always looking for attention. They’re also probably the ones who are always starting the drama.
Related: 7 Ways to Create a Friendly Environment at Work
Of course, not everyone fits neatly into one of these categories. But chances are, if you’re constantly surrounded by complainers, competitors, and playwrights, chances are your work life will be pretty miserable.
Now that we’ve established who you should avoid, let’s talk about co-workers to look out for. Here are the five types of people you want to spend more time with at work:
1. The Mentor
A mentor can help guide you in your career, offer advice and support, and be a sounding board for your ideas. Find someone who is successful in the field you are interested in and who is willing to share their knowledge with you. Make sure you find a way to add value to your life before you ask them to be your mentor.
Related: You need a Mentor. Here’s where to find one for free
A connector is someone who knows a lot of people and can help introduce you to new contacts. This person can help you expand your professional network and open up new opportunities for you. In his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell describes connectors as people who “link us to the world…people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”
3. The challenger
A challenger is someone who is not afraid to push you to do your best. They may offer constructive criticism or different perspectives that force you to think outside the box. This person can help you grow professionally and reach your full potential.
4. The lawyer
An advocate is someone who believes in you and your abilities. They can be a mentor, a friend, or a colleague, but they will always support your goals and encourage you along the way.
Related: How to attract new employees who want to do great work
5. The Coach
A coach is someone who can help you develop your skills and achieve your goals. They can offer inspiration and insight, but they also know how to listen and let you figure things out for yourself. A coach will help you grow in your career and become the best version of yourself.
Spending more time with these people can help you reach your full potential and be happier in your career. If you don’t have a strong peer group at work, it may be time to look for a new job or build relationships with new people. Do not underestimate the power of your peer group: it can make a difference in your professional satisfaction.