Unless you happen to work remotely, there's a good chance you spend more time during the week with your colleagues than you do with your own family members. And while many of us are blessed with helpful, supportive coworkers, others aren't nearly as lucky. In fact, sometimes all it takes is an irksome colleague to turn an otherwise decent work situation into an utter nightmare.

Whether you work in a small office or a large corporation, it's important to distance yourself from those coworkers who are only likely to bring you down. Here are a few specific types to avoid.

Frustrated woman at her desk


1. The complainer

Most offices have at least one person who always seems to have something to gripe about. There are plenty of reasons to steer clear of that coworker who's always complaining. First, if you come to be associated with that person, others might view you as a complainer too. Secondly, there are probably some aspects of your job that bug you, and that's normal. But what you don't need is someone throwing fuel on a low-burning fire by decrying the many other injustices you're subject to, like your company's stingy vacation policy or lack of a 401(k) match. You don't need extra reasons to be unhappy at work, so stay away from any coworker who's incapable of looking at the bright side.

2. The gossip

When you're stuck in the same old routine at work, sometimes a small dose of gossip here and there can provide a quick hit of much-needed entertainment. But if you have a coworker who's known as the office gossip, it's best to stay far, far away. After all, if that person always seems to have the inside scoop on others, it won't take long for him or her to uncover, and divulge, a couple of your hidden secrets. Hardcore gossips have a way of turning meaningless water cooler chit-chat into the next big scandal, so choose someone else to shoot the breeze with when you need a break.

3. The tattletale

Some employees are more honest and committed than others, and while it may be frustrating to work among folks who feel they can get away with ducking out early or taking frequent breaks, that doesn't mean it's your job to report those people to HR. On the other hand, there's probably someone in your office who does feel a persistent urge to rat out those folks who come in late and take long lunches. And while it's wrong of those workers not to pull their weight, nobody likes a tattletale -- which means you should think twice about getting chummy with your resident whistleblower. The more that person learns about you and your habits, the greater the chances they'll uncover some sort of dirt that can easily wind up in an HR file -- like that one time you called out sick to spend a day at the beach.

4. The egomaniac

It's one thing to take pride in your work, but it's another thing to be constantly tooting your own horn. That's why it pays to avoid your office egomaniac -- you know, that person who's always bragging about his or her accomplishments and downplaying everyone else's work. Spending too much time around an egomaniac can make you feel small and create an atmosphere of unnecessary competition that may not have otherwise existed. Instead, stick with coworkers who build you up and acknowledge your contributions.

5. The control freak

Some people have an easier time delegating responsibilities and relinquishing control than others. So if you're looking for a colleague to team up with for an upcoming project, don't make the mistake of choosing a control freak. Not only will that person drive you utterly bonkers, but he or she will likely take over every single task you're entrusted with so that you get virtually no say in how things are done. You're better off pairing up with someone who understands the meaning of collaboration.

We can't all choose the people we work with, and sometimes we may be forced into situations where we're stuck on a team with folks we simply can't stand. But if you do your best to put some distance between yourself and those unquestionably toxic colleagues, you'll be more likely to succeed on the job and come away with a modicum of sanity to boot.