Office Nut Cases


On the home page I list as one of my favourite sites for authentic texts. I found an article called ‘Office Nut Cases: A Field Guide’ here, and I’ve summarized it in a handout below.


Use the handout below to discuss in class the various ‘behaviour patterns’. You could copy it from this post, give it as homework reading, and then back in class ask the students to think of one other characteristic for each of the types. Ask the students if any of the ‘nut cases’ are recognizable from their current or previous jobs (no names mentioned!).

The original article has many ideas that you can feed in to the discussion.

Alternatively, if you have a high-level 1:1 student and a computer in the room, then you could work directly off the screen from the original article.


Office Nut Cases

#1 The Super-Achiever

Super achievers must excel at everything that they do. “Happy” is not a word used by super achievers; the only word that matters is “successful.” Super achievers see themselves as special and they want to be treated as such. They hate criticism and will endlessly defend, explain or justify in order to prove that they are right and others are wrong.

#2 The Rebel

The rebel is a born fighter. Their hostility is against authority figures, social protocols, or company rules and regulations. They enjoy negative attention, seeing it as the only way to get noticed. Rebels claim to want change, yet they take on a cause without really understanding the implications of their actions.

#3 The Procrastinator

Procrastinators say yes to deadlines but fail to complete tasks on time. When the deadline is missed they become indignant or evasive when held responsible. While perfectionism plays a part in their behaviour, most procrastinators lack self-confidence and are unsure whether they can actually complete a task.

#4 The Office Clown

Office clowns are extroverts who love to attract attention with their jokes and witty comments. But their one-liners can often become aggressive contests with other people. They can become heroes by speaking the unspeakable, even if it’s not productive to focus on that aspect of the situation.

#5 The Persecutor

Persecutors are bullies who love to control and micromanage others. They see others as weak and sentimental and only approve of and appreciate those who take power. They need to feel important and want to be the center of attention. Having a bullying boss or colleague can cause depression, sleep disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, lowered self-confidence and a sense of inadequacy and isolation.

#6 The Victim

Victims are skillful and expert complainers. Pessimistic by nature, they never feel respected or trusted. They tend to be quiet and to withdraw from any situations in which they risk being criticized. Victims spend so much time focusing on problems that they miss opportunities for real and lasting change. Victims often stay in the same job, even though they’re deeply unhappy.

#7 The Pleaser

Pleasers rarely offer opinions and they will do whatever it takes to avoid being involved with conflict. They change their position depending on who is in the room. This chameleon-like stance is a protective device allowing the pleaser to remain the winner in a popularity contest. Pleasers want to fit in, which leads them to become intensely self-conscious.

#8 The Splitter

Splitters enjoy power games. They use innuendo, emotional bribery, mixed messages, and gossip to get you to be their puppet. At first they seem so friendly and helpful. They have private information that they share because they want to help you. But this information usually invloves negative comments about someone else. And at the same time the splitter is also saying negative things about you to other people. It’s all part of the fun!