The workplace can feel a jungle sometimes. There are multiple things happening at once and it is home to a diversity of strange and wonderful creatures—yes, you and your colleagues.
The Chinese zodiac (shēngxiào meaning “born resembling”) consists of 12 animals—the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Following the lunar calendar, an animal and its attributes are assigned to each year in a repeating twelve-year cycle.
Not only is the Chinese zodiac a way of discerning someone’s age, it is also used to predict one’s fortune and said to be an insight into one’s personality. While other factors come into play when it comes to one’s personality, the Chinese zodiac sign is a commonly used social indicator although predominantly in casual ice-breaking settings.
What are the different stereotypes associated with each animal of the Chinese zodiac then? More importantly, how do you deal with all of them in one place?
The first in the Chinese zodiac, the Rat. There are several folk tales explaining why the animals are arranged as they are in the zodiac and one popular version goes like this: a long time ago, the Jade Emperor organised a race for the animals to select who would become the twelve animals of the zodiac. They would be arranged according to the order in which they crossed the Heavenly Gate. The clever rat hitched a ride on the ox’s head and leapt off to cross the gate once they arrived, hence becoming the first animal in the zodiac.
Like the rat in the story, those born in the year of the Rat are known for their quick wits and resourcefulness. Able to get along with colleagues and clients, the Rat is an asset to any workplace.
Birth years: 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Personality traits: quick-witted, curious, resourceful, ambitious
Notable figures: Tim Cook, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rosa Parks, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
How to get along with them: Sociable and outspoken, the Rat is quick to make friends wherever they go. If you’re on the shy side, having a Rat as a friend in the workplace can help you to form connections you would have otherwise missed out on.
The second in the Chinese zodiac, the Ox is a steady and diligent friend to have at your side. However, they also live up to the trait of being bull-headed and are famously known for being stubborn and immovable.
Birth years: 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Personality traits: patient, diligent, hardworking, stubborn
Notable figures: Barack Obama, Walt Disney, Andy Lau, Michael Phelps
How to get along with them: Don’t get into an argument you can’t win with them! Instead, why not take it slow and see things from their side? Perhaps they have a point and that is why they stand by it so strongly.
Powerful and driven, the Tiger makes a good leader. Once they sink their claws into something, they will see it through to the end.
Birth years: 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Personality traits: brave, confident, intense, unpredictable
Notable figures: Lady Gaga, Usain Bolt, Queen Elizabeth, Karl Marx
How to get along with them: Don’t be intimidated by the fierce Tiger. With their larger-than-life personalities, they may come off as intense. Yet, this intensity can clear paths for you.
A sensitive soul. The Rabbit is known for their kindness and thoughtfulness. Quiet and peaceful environments suit them best whereas competitive and aggressive environments may stress them out.
Birth years: 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Personality traits: sensitive, quiet, kind, timid
Notable figures: Albert Einstein, Angelina Jolie, Jeff Bezos, Jet Li
How to get along with them: Extend a friendly hand to the quiet rabbit! While they might want to be left to their own devices, sometimes they may need a friendly face to get them into team activities.
The only mythical creature amongst the twelve animals of the zodiac. The Chinese dragon is a wise and powerful being and the association often carries over to those born in the year of the Dragon.
Birth years: 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Personality traits: charismatic, energetic, outspoken, self-centred
Notable figures: Jack Ma, Rihanna, Bruce Lee, Lee Hsien Loong
How to get along with them: Be bold. Someone with a strong aura like the Dragon demands just as much from others as they do from themselves.
Intelligence is the most common trait that people associate with the Snake. They are a cool and calm problem-solver that people can turn to when in need.
Birth years: 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Personality traits: clever, insightful, charming, calculating
Notable figures: Taylor Swift, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Daniel Radcliffe
How to get along with them: The Snake sees things from a perspective that no one else might. Ask them about their thoughts and you might come away with something new.
Energetic and free-spirited, the Horse is always running at full speed. That boundless energy can be tiring to face but, at the same time, it can be a battery for the whole team. The Horse is also said to be adventurous and have a love for travelling.
Birth years: 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Personality traits: energetic, independent, straightforward, impatient
Notable figures: Joe Biden, Jackie Chan, Greta Thunberg, Emma Watson
How to get along with them: We always need that one person on our side to keep the energy levels up when the whole team is exhausted. Count on them to keep the morale high even in a dire situation.
The peacekeeper of the group. The Goat is there to listen to everyone and smooth things over in a crisis.
Birth years: 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Personality traits: empathetic, peace-loving, mild-mannered, disorganised
Notable figures: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ed Sheeran, Chow Yun-Fat
How to get along with them: While the Goat excels at keeping the peace, they don’t do so well at staying on top of things. Be patient with them.
The mood booster of the group, the Monkey is a cheerful and lively individual who is simply fun to be around. Your workplace will never be dull with them around.
Birth years: 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Personality traits: witty, sociable, fun, fickle
Notable figures: Will Smith, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo da Vinci, Kim Kardashian
How to get along with them: Just let loose around them! The Monkey can match you pace for pace when it comes to having fun.
The level-headed and straightforward Rooster is an excellent worker. They are the ones getting the job done and making sure everyone else stays on track.
Birth years: 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Personality traits: observant, hardworking, practical, argumentative
Notable figures: Britney Spears, Serena Williams, Chris Evans, Ariana Grande
How to get along with them: Focus on the task at hand and concentrate all your energy into it. The Rooster appreciates someone who can do their job well.
When we think of the Dog, the first thing that comes to mind is loyalty. The Dog is a stalwart and meticulous individual to have in the workplace.
Birth years: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2030
Personality traits: loyal, honest, careful, anxious
Notable figures: Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj
How to get along with them: Check in with the Dog regularly before they get caught up in their own thoughts. While loyal and attentive, they tend to overthink and spiral down into a rut when left to their own devices.
Last but not least, the Pig. People born in the year of the Pig have a good reputation for being brainy. The Pig is also generous and giving, making them well-liked in the workplace.
Birth years: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2031
Personality traits: easy-going, generous, intelligent, materialistic
Notable figures: Hillary Clinton, Elon Musk, Elton John, Arnold Schwarzenegger
How to get along with them: For the generous Pig, why not try giving them something in return? It is always nice to receive something for a change.
And that’s all twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac! How does this survival guide measure up with what you see in your workplace?
Disclaimer: While it might be fun to associate your colleagues with their different zodiac animals, remember that stereotypes are simply just that. A Rat may not act like a Rat and an Ox may not act like an Ox. At the end of the day, judge your colleagues by their actions, not the year they were born in.