Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

10 People That Will Strangle Your Company

Every organization, no matter how small, has one or more people who are quite simply obnoxious, and they drain energy from everyone and can strangle your company.  Sometimes they are also intellectually brilliant, or closely related to the boss, so there is no easy way out.

In fact, they may even be the boss.  So if you find this article taped to your desk, it may be time to look in the mirror. At any rate, if you are stuck working in an office, at least you deserve some clues on how to recognize the different types, and know it’s time to run:

  1. “I knew that was going to happen.” This know-it-all has an answer for everything, and is proud to let you know, always after the fact, that they actually predicted ahead of time every calamity that has befallen the world and the office. 
  1. “You wouldn’t believe my latest conquest.” For the loudmouth, the word ‘discreet’ isn’t part of his dictionary at all.  His conversations at the water cooler, or on the phone, always seem to be audible across the whole office. 
  1. “I’m so angry I could scream.” In my view, people with short fuses and anger issues ought to be banned from the workplace.  People are always “walking on eggshells” to avoid creating another outburst, and office tension stays at an unhealthy high level. 
  1. “Have you heard the one about…” Every office has the joker, and he particularly likes to shock people with crude or off-color stories.  He doesn’t seem to take anything or anyone seriously, and especially loves his pranks on shy people who blush easily. 
  1. “I’m so busy, I don’t have time…” The whiner will always be complaining about how busy they are, and how many hours they put in, but you can never quite see anything they have accomplished. But they always seem to find time for talking loudly on the phone, or discussing the latest gossip.
  1. “I have no life.” Woe is me, and I’ll be happy to tell you the gory details of all my lost loves, my amazing string of illnesses, and the strife in my family.  These people will definitely suck the energy out of everyone. 
  1. “I’m so worried about the project.” Always in a state of panic, these people bring stress to the whole office, just by their hand-wringing, hovering over people’s desks, and nagging everyone to double-check for the dire consequences of possible mistakes. 
  1. “I need a moment of your time.” We all love to help people, but when the request happens ten times every day, and for the same trivial issue, your blood pressure is bound to go up. It’s not efficient to have two people doing every job. 
  1. “I’m surrounded by idiots.” This person has an ego the size of a mountain, and won’t listen to anyone long enough to assess whether they are a genius or an idiot. In the long run, their statement will be true, because all rational people will have run away. 
  1. “This world isn’t fair.” This type is often associated with Gen-Y, but some people seem permanently afflicted as they get passed over for promotions. As Bill Gates said a while back to a high school graduation crowd “Life is not fair – get used to it.”

I’m sure I missed a few obnoxious types here, so help me out with additions, and tell me how many of these you have in your office. I wish I could give you specific solutions and antidotes, but that’s a bit tougher, and maybe the subject for another article. In general, survival requires large doses of tolerance, patience, and the ability to turn your ears off.

If it’s your company, you can’t just ignore it.  If you recognize several of these types on your team, you need to do something now, before they have sucked the life and energy out of your dream. Tolerance for you is not an option. People will follow your leadership, or lack of it.



All opinions expressed are those of the author,  and do not necessarily represent those of Gust.

Written by Martin Zwilling

user Martin Zwilling Founder and CEO,
Startup Professionals

Martin is a veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and angel investor. He is the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners.

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2 thoughts on “10 People That Will Strangle Your Company”

  1. MatterCode says:

    11. “That will never work.” No matter what the concept or idea, it will be snuffed with all alacrity by this black hole of innovation.

  2. Marty Zwilling says:

    Great addition to the list! Thank you very much.