5 types of power play personalities you will find in every office.

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Ah, the office.

From the outside, it looks like a bunch of sane adults, going about their day, remarking every now and then on the weather.

“Oh Stacey, do you think it will rain this afternoon?”

“Ah – John, let me see. No, I think the clouds are moving on.”

Fascinating stuff.

But to the trained eye, the office is rife with something we all experience, but rarely talk about.


Olivia Pope knows this all too well from Scandal. Image:

The average workplace, decorated with passive aggressive signs and obnoxiously large plants, is more politically charged than the US Presidential election. The only difference is that we have to be far, far more discrete about it.

Well, until now.

Here are the five types of power-play personalities you will find in every workplace. And guess what? You’re one of them.

The passive-aggressive tutter.

The tutter exudes their power through an extremely well formed and audible ‘tut’.

They are an absolute perfectionist, and spend a great deal of their time in the office kitchen, where they loudly wash up any spoons or (Heaven forbid) PLATES left over by the beasts they are forced to work alongside.

When tutting doesn't get the desired response, the passive aggressive colleague sends a firmly worded email, sent to ‘all’ but directed at precisely three people.

They do this because they don’t want to directly upset anyone. This might mean missing out on a promotion, or getting on the wrong side of their superiors.


With that said, they are engaged in a constant power-play with whoever that Neanderthal is who is incapable of changing a goddamn toilet roll. And it doesn’t matter if the culprit is the CEO – the tutter can’t help but let out a ‘…tut’.

"The tutter exudes their power through an extremely well formed and audible ‘tut’." Image: NBC Universal Television.

The competitor.

The competitor was born with a desire to win.

They are the type of person who cried themselves to sleep after losing Snakes and Ladders as an eight-year-old. They relate with Bernard Tomic when he throws his racket in a rage after losing a point.

The competitor always knows who’s on top. They have an intricate and comprehensive understanding of the power dynamics within the office, and are very much aware of who holds it.

They are full of energy and great ideas. The competitor greatly respects the other players in the game, but wants to beat them nonetheless.


"They are the type of person who cried themselves to sleep after losing Snakes and Ladders as an eight-year-old." Image: NBC Universal Television.

The I-Know-Who-Is-Important.

The all-knowing colleague has a scroll in their back pocket, detailing the office hierarchy. And they are sure to let the new kid know, approximately three days in.

The I-Know-Who-Is-Important type has often been employed for quite a while. They are ambitious and know how to work each person individually to get what they want.

They engage in solid banter with their superiors. They study their interests. They know their coffee orders by heart. They can turn it on – and off – like a light switch.

Oh, and if you’re a first year out, then you can get your own bloody coffee.

What they're secretly thinking. Image:

The INSANELY busy.

The extremely busy occupies a role at the top. They are a manager, supervisor, or the boss and therefore possess legitimate power.

They do not have time for you and your things. Don’t even think about emailing them as they currently have 51 million unread emails that their PA is attempting to work through.

They pass through the office like a lightning bolt. Walking past them in the kitchen gives you straight up heart palpitations. Your WORST NIGHTMARE is to be caught washing your hands next to them in the bathroom. You only ever provide one word answers as not to hold them up, because, you see, THEY’RE BUSY.


They walk at an extremely brisk pace and always have their phone in hand. They never appear to eat. They speak loudly and directly. The worst thing you can possibly say to this type is; “Sorry, are you busy? Do you have a moment?” No. No they do not.

"They currently have 51 million unread emails that their PA is attempting to work through." Image:

The cheerleader.

Otherwise known as Miss/Mr Congeniality, the cheerleader is universally liked.

They are beaming even before their morning coffee. They have a sweet face. They laugh at everyone’s shocking jokes. They ask everyone, with such genuine, unwavering interest; “So, how was your weekend!?” But most of all, they are extremely supportive. They are the first to pat a colleague on the back, and insist that they really are very good at their job.

At first, the cheerleader might look immune from the office power-play. But, in actual fact, they are the master of it.

You see, they are like Grant Denyer in Family Feud. They are not mere players – they are the host.

There is simply not a more powerful way to get your superiors, colleagues or assistants on side. The cheerleader has everyone, from the INSANELY busy, to the passive-aggressive tutter, right in the palm of their hand.


Game. Over.

What type of power-play personality is at your workplace?