Let me preface this post with an explanation. You may have been surprised to read some very gender specific language in the title of this blog post. After all, the Heller Group provides a range of excellent services to a range of employers, employees, and applicants. So, when I use the term “guy,” I am not referring to a man. This term used in this context, is absolutely gender neutral. Rather, I am referring to the concept of a particular personality type, which may be donned by either a man or woman.

What is the guy complex?

The guy complex refers to a personality paradigm that is centered on a specific trait or activity. Let me further explain by way of example.

Farrah loves to ski. She travels to Whistler, Mount Tremblant, and the Alps during her seasonal holidays. Farrah has all the latest ski gear, a picture atop a snow-covered mountain on her desk, and a plethora of ski-related stories in her back pocket. She is energetic and outdoorsy. She is the ski guy,

John is kind, inquisitive, and cooperative. He spends his weekends at the local dog shelter, volunteering his time and efforts to needy animals and good causes. John always offers to take your scrap paper to the shredder, and to pick up coffee for the morning meeting. John is the helping hand guy.

Taylor is the lean, mean, litigating-machine that some may fear, and others may revere. This litigant is witty, sharp, and not to be crossed. Any small dispute turns into an adversarial conflict without much provocation. Of course, Taylor’s sport is arguing, and office spats are mere child’s play. Taylor is the antagonistic guy.

Getting away from the guy

Of course these colleagues are fictional, but their personalities are familiar. You may also know: the I’ve got a story for everything guy, the muffin guy, the know-it-all guy, and the spin class guy. These labels become colloquial office shorthand. In a formal profession, how one appears to one’s peers may seem trivial. At the end of the day, your work should speak for itself and for you. However, the reality of office politics is that your hashtag, label, shorthand, and guy nomenclature matter a great deal.

Be wary to foster a positive and polished professional persona in the office. Despite the hierarchal nature of law and firms, be sure to treat your junior and peers in respectful and friendly manner. A good reputation in this industry takes an entire career to develop and maintain, don’t let it be tainted by being that guy.