Top 20 signs you’re a collabohater

Know your enemies, Sun Tzu advised, lest you wind up imperiled in battle. That may be overstating it for the purposes of business collaboration, but on your path to collaborative enlightenment, you should also increase your awareness of what lurks in the shadows: the collabohater.

Collabohaters, like collaborators, come in all shapes and sizes. They aren’t necessarily bad people or unpleasant colleagues. Far from it. Some collabohaters may even be the life of the party or the resident genius of your company.

If you’ve taken collaborator quiz and your result didn’t quite seem on target, perhaps it’s time to consider whether you may have fallen in with the wrong team. Are you a dreaded…(gasp)… collabohater? See if you recognize yourself below (note: this is also a fun way to scrutinize bosses and colleagues).

You don’t know what your coworkers actually do all day.

You may be perfectly satisfied with your current work processes, unaware of the status quo headaches suffered by your coworkers – because you’ve never really stopped to think about their day-to-day and how your processes intersect.

You take credit when credit’s not due (to you).

Don’t forget to share the glory when you’re recognized for your efforts, even if a given project was your brain child. As long as you’re not in a boardroom with Donald Trump, no one is going to think you’re a weak leader because you’re going to bat for your team members at the expense of your own self-aggrandizement.

You’re stubborn.

Listen. Take cold, clinical, objective looks at data and analysis and be willing to recast your efforts accordingly.

Your glass is always 90% empty.

Your client has a request… and you’re already rolling your eyes. Your marketing team wants to rethink the workflow behind their campaigns… and you’re already rolling your eyes. Your justification for your gloominess is probably something along the lines of “I’ve been around” or “I know how this sort of thing goes.” That doesn’t cut it.

You always say “No.”

This means you’re either a collabohater or a toddler.

You never say “No.”

This is great if you’re an improviser; not so great if you’re an employee who, despite your superpowers, is capable of overcommitting, stretching yourself too thin and inadvertently causing delays. This trait also applies to yes-men – and, no, yes-men aren’t good collaborators, either.

You rule by fear.

You’ve seen everything Kevin Spacey has ever done and your leadership philosophy is a blend of House of Cards, Swimming with SharksThe Usual Suspects, Glengarry Glen Ross and Seven. You’re not just a collabohater; you may be a sociopath.

You’re territorial.

Of our 9 collaborators, the most collaboration-averse are the siloist and the dinosaur (more on dinosaurs below). Departmental silos are increasingly tumbling down; this doesn’t mean that everyone places needless fingerprints all over everything, but it does require a new degree of transparency. Transparency flourishes in trusting environments. Territorial behavior demonstrates a lack of trust in your collaborators.

You’re the dinosaur.

Perhaps you’ve thrown your little T. rex arms around the status quo. Hey, that’s not entirely a bad thing; dinosaurs are often very wise. As with the siloist (above), there is considerable power in being the one who knows the most about an archaic system. Eventually, though, your collaborators and your company will figure out a way to move forward, with or without you.

You’re easier to work around than work with.

Maybe your slow response time makes you a bottleneck. Maybe your prickly personality makes people hesitate to offer assistance or make requests. Maybe you have a reputation for seeing problems but never finding solutions. Whatever the cause, if your colleagues would rather work without you than work with you, that’s a surefire sign you’re on the wrong side of the collaboration divide.

You wilt under pressure.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going… and the collabohaters start making excuses, missing deadlines, pointing fingers and letting everyone within earshot (or within sight of a social network) know just how uniquely stressed/busy/tired/frustrated they’ve become.

You’re indiscreet.

Transparency is in, but that doesn’t mean discretion is out. It is still possible to overshare – so be careful, office socialites!

You ride coattails.

You’ve found a miracle worker and are perfectly content to recede into the background, let her do the heavy lifting and occasionally steal a reflected slice of her spotlight. In sports, this is known as playing “not to lose” instead of playing to win. It doesn’t usually work out.

You cut corners.

You always finish your work on time, but it often needs to be polished, if not completely redone.

You always leap before you look.

Innovators and risk-takers are romanticized in the business world, and rightfully so, but you don’t want a boss or an underling who’s constantly leaping off the cliff without a parachute, backed with little more than gut instinct and a vague desire to “do something.”

You’re the star of the You Show and it’s always playing.

In one of our first profiles of extreme collabohaters, we looked at the unfunny office comic – not to be confused with the funny office comic, who is a merciful relief to be cherished. The office is not your Open Mic Night. Similarly, if your cubicle-mate knows all about your aunt’s medical bills and your cat’s dietary preferences while you struggle to remember the name of your cubicle-mate’s spouse… you may be a collabohater. Broadcasting isn’t collaborating.

You don’t have time for small talk.

High morale helps facilitate a more collaborative environment. But discussing last night’s Walking Dead or bonding over the inspirational play of the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA tournament may ultimately make even more of a positive impact on productivity than it makes on morale.

You schedule too many meetings.

“Hey, let’s collaborate! I’ll schedule a meeting!” Even in the most forward-thinking, collaborative business (or perhaps especially in that business), meetings should be selectively deployed and strategically run. Could your weekly status meeting actually be rolled into a report that would take five minutes to read instead of 30 minutes on a conference call?

You are bad at email.

“Do you want Option 1 or Option 2?”


“Here’s the massive project you requested. I completed it on time and under budget. The results should push us in a direction that will make our company – and probably you personally – more profitable.”

“k thx”

You’re an expert in sales and technology and biz dev and foreign policy and sports and…

No, you’re not. Occasionally and honestly deploying these three magical words will improve your standing in the eyes of your collaborators: “I don’t know.”

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.