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In late June, while promoting their upcoming book, Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon took to the streets of Manhattan wearing sandwich boards that proclaimed "I Hate People." For the most part, says Hershon, the folks they encountered seemed to agree with the sentiment. This may help to explain the early success of I Hate People!: Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job. Here, Hershon outlines four kinds of people to watch out for in the office, and how to handle them.

Minute Man

This colleague peppers you with questions and requests "for a minute of your time," says Hershon, a branding consultant and humour writer. "Before you know it, you've portioned off most of your day to this guy." One woman asked a Minute Man to put all of his questions in a draft e-mail during the day and hit "send" at five o'clock . "He had his answers first thing the next day," says Hershon.

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Stop Sign

"These are the classic naysayers, the devil's advocates," says Hershon. Stop Signs stifle plans and initiatives. They see everything as a no-go, be it because of budget, the effort required, or their own closed-off mind. "Try not to engage them early on in any process, particularly a creative one," he says. Bring them in much later, when you actually do need someone who can point out the deficiencies in a project.

Switchblade

"They seem to be nice to you, but they always bad-mouth everybody else at the office," Hershon says. "It's likely that when they're with someone else, they do the same to you." Keep copies of their back-stabbing e-mails and other evidence in case the Switchblades ever turn on you. Then confront them directly and ask for it to stop.

Sheeple

As in sheep + people. "They comprise about 80% of the work force," says Hershon. "They perform their assigned work tasks, show up on time and love meetings. Meetings justify their existence." Sheeple are relatively harmless, but their lack of motivation and ingenuity can be an impediment. Try to find the "forward-thinking" Sheeple and engage them in projects. They can help lead the pack, and the pack is a great asset if you get it moving in the right direction.

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