How Can You Spot an Obstructive Colleague at Work?

In the office, it’s likely that most people will get on with their jobs and with each other. This will make for a great working environment, but there might be an obstructive colleague or two undermining that sense of harmony. Known as the ‘workplace can’t’, they are seen as obstructive, unreasonable and downright rude to their colleagues for so many reasons, fathomable and unfathomable.

Although these people are thankfully rare in offices, when they do appear, they can be pretty easy to find, be it through their appearance, actions or a combination of the two. A survey conducted on behalf of Powwownow found that, when asked about who was most likely to be a ‘can’t’, co-workers in the HR department scored the highest, achieving just shy of 18% of the vote.

Workplace Cant

It’s all in the details

The profile of the female ‘can’t’ revealed that she was most likely to be called Sarah, that she was in her 40’s and that she was most likely to have brown hair. As for her male equivalent, the most common name was David, was most likely to have grey hair and was probably aged between 45 and 54. Like the female ‘can’t’, he was more likely to be in HR.

Irrespective of gender, there were a few signs appearance-wise which characterised obstructive workers.  Horn-rimmed glasses, red faces and even sandals were among the things cited the most about the appearance of such workers. However, they were more identifiable by their actions than their outward appearance.

Confidence trick

Some qualities are pretty common to find when getting to know the ‘workplace can’t’. The one most heavily identified was being argumentative, something 65% of people mentioned. Amazingly, 59% said that workplace can’ts were confident, possibly suggesting that, if nothing else, they were ambitious and willing to do whatever it takes to climb up the corporate ladder.

The ways in which they can be obstructive could be through refusing requests, deciding not to talk to people and trying to show favouritism if in a management position. All that could become a thing of the past if they were a little more willing to cooperate, meaning that office harmony is likely to remain intact.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Thursday, 19 September 2019
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Member Login

Business Insights & Tips


Jill Holtz
2105 Points
Tena Glaser
1394 Points
Michael Lane
802 Points
Ron Immink
732 Points
Fionan Murray
721 Points
View Leaderboard