Monday, June 17, 2024

Signs Of Toxic Co-workers And How To Deal With Them Tactically?

Do you know if you have a toxic co-worker on your team? You would be surprised to know that research confirms toxic people may get promoted ahead of you. Are you drained by the negative work environment due to toxic colleagues who hinder your productivity? Well, the hardest thing is knowing to deal with toxic people at your workplace, whether it is an employer, an employee, a coworker, or a client. Nothing is as exhausting as dealing with a person’s toxic behavior when you are in the same environment with them day in and day out. It may be comparatively easy to get rid of toxic family members or friends in your life because there is an off button, but the same privilege does not exist in the working environment. Having said that, there are certain things you can do to ease your life alongside toxic co-workers.

Toxic people are emotionally draining in normal scenarios but are much worse in the work environment. This is because they can distract you from your duties and leave you with poor job satisfaction.

This article explains the signs that indicate a toxic person, the steps you can take to deal with them, and the things to do to make your life less hard.

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What Is A Toxic Work Environment?

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A toxic work environment is a workplace consisting of mean people who take advantage of their position, status, or knowledge to manipulate decisions and other people for their own gain.

They are usually jealous of your achievements and look at you as a threat, thereby suppressing your growth in the organization.

According to research, toxic colleagues display the following behaviors, especially in a work environment:

  • They backstab about teammates to higher management.
  • Toxic co-workers spread rumors about you.
  • They only focus on their personal goals.
  • Toxic team members agree to things during meetings but show disagreement later.
  • Abusive supervision
  • Bullying at work
  • False accusations
  • They always try to make you look bad.

Types of Toxic People At Work

Here are the most observed types of toxic people at work:

  1. The Office Flirt
  2. Dictator
  3. The Abuser
  4. People Pleaser
  5. The Backstabber
  6. The Know-It-All
  7. The Nitpicker
  8. The Procrastinator

What Are The Effects Of Toxic Colleagues On You?

Toxic colleagues can easily hamper your daily life and significantly impact both your work and personal lives.

Here are some of the major impacts of toxic co-workers:

  • Poor work-life balance
  • Increased stress
  • Decreased job satisfaction
  • Distressed sleep
  • Reduced self-confidence

Common Signs of Toxic Co-Workers

1. They Pretend to Know Everything

At one point, we all have that person at work who thinks they know everything and don’t allow anyone else to share their opinions. They thrive off of other people’s shortcomings and feel superior when they are at the top.

These types of toxic coworkers don’t recognize other people’s achievements but their own and like to be the only ones appreciated. They prey on those people that they think are weaker and use them to their advantage.

2. They Like to Gossip

There are people at work who constantly like to chat and be in everyone’s business. They will be well-informed about everything that is happening within the office and outside of it. They spend their time talking about the new TV show or the office fling that week.

The problem with these people is that they will get you in trouble by distracting you from your work.

Know that such people who gossip about one person will most likely gossip about you as well. They have no loyalty, and you should avoid them.

3. The Backstabbers

These types of toxic employees are the most charming at first but will show their true colors once they have earned your trust.

One day they will be your close office friend, and the next day they can turn into a backstabbing co-worker who shared your secret with the entire office.

Consider distancing yourself from these people and not giving them any information that they can use against you.

4. Those That Tend to Procrastinate

It is normal to socialize and chat with your co-workers while at work, but sometimes it gets awkward when your co-worker turns the usual small talk too far by talking about things that are not beneficial to you.

Avoid these people, for they will distract you from what is really important. You will no longer be productive when around them and engage in unnecessary stuff.

5. The Soul-Sucker

These people like to take and take from you but never give you anything positive in return. You always feel exhausted, negative, and drained when you’re around them because they like to complain all the time.

They constantly bring their problems to you, hoping that you will solve them but never ask you how you are doing. It is always about them, and they never think of others.

6. They Display Unstable Behavior

For example, they will sugarcoat things while you are on a one-to-one discussion and show authority while together in a team meeting.

7. Toxic Co-workers Master The Blame Game

They will always highlight things that don’t go so well and point in a direction to blame you. These types of toxic co-workers would not have second thoughts to go to any extent to put you down in front of others.

One of the reasons they do this is not to let you take rewards for any of the tasks you do.

On that note!

8. They Take Credit For Your Work

Toxic people like to portray things in their own way, which can be far away from reality.

These types of colleagues won’t hesitate to simply steal your thunder so that nobody even recognizes what you have actually achieved.

Real-Time Steps to Tactically Deal With Toxic Co-Workers

Having recognized and understood the above signs of toxic co-workers, you can now devise ways and real-time steps to deal with them. 

1. Establish Clear Boundaries

Working in a toxic work environment could only be worse if your fail to establish healthy boundaries with your colleagues and boss.

As much as you’re patient and understanding towards your co-worker, you will reach a point where enough is enough and decide what you will and won’t put up with.

When you are constantly available for someone, they will take advantage of that. You should draw a line between what you accept and what you don’t. 

2. Try Not to Get Sucked Into Their Drama

Toxic co-workers feed off of drama; therefore, you shouldn’t indulge them by getting involved. Remember that it isn’t about you but them.

It would be best not to waste your time on these people or get emotionally involved in their toxicity.

Try as much as you can to avoid them even though it may seem impossible at times because you are in the same work environment. Take a step back and show them that you are not interested.

The best way you can do this is by limiting your engagement with these people.

If they come up to you, cut off your conversation by making up an excuse like having a meeting to get to or anything else.

3. Acknowledge and Reward Good Behavior

Another way to strategically deal with toxic co-workers is to do it indirectly by rewarding their good behavior, if any, to show them that you won’t associate yourself with someone with poor intentions.

You can do this by spending time with good and overall positive people. This will send a message about what you will and won’t tolerate. You can also acknowledge positive behavior by agreeing with the person who did it.

You can also intentionally ignore or avoid a toxic person, and the more times you do it, the louder the message will be.

4. Don’t Give Them Power Over You

No one can make you feel a certain way unless you allow them to. You can’t control how a person acts or treats you, but you can always control how you react to them.

Don’t give negative people power over you.

Take your personal power back by knowing that toxic people will do whatever they feel like doing, whether you like it or not, and you should stop taking whatever they do personally. 

5. Confront Them

If all else fails, you should confront them. Know that you can’t change a person’s behavior, but you can talk to them about it. You have to talk to them and explain that you don’t like how they handle things or gossip about you.

Let them know that you are not up for it.

Toxic people don’t know what it’s like to have boundaries set, and they will most likely get upset, but you shouldn’t mind that.

What Can I Do To Deal With Toxic Work Environment?

While it can be hard to learn how to deal with bad coworkers in a toxic work environment, it’s not the end of the road.

They may try to make you hate your job and dread showing up to work every day.

However, there are some things you can do for yourself to ease the situation, and they are:

1. Try To Physically Distance Yourself

It is important to distance yourself from this toxic co-worker.

Negative emotions are contagious, and there reaches a point where one’s bad behavior starts to rub off on you, and you start behaving that way as well.

If you think this is hard, you can try and put on headphones while working, which will send the message that you are unavailable to talk or gossip.

2. Take Care of Yourself

Toxic behavior can take a huge toll on your physical and emotional health; don’t let such environments affect you.

Your work is not supposed to suck the life out of you but to fulfill you, and once this happens, you should take a step back, evaluate and make a change.

Your well-being comes first, and you can’t do it in a toxic environment. Don’t suffer in silence or alone. There is a lot of help out there, and the first one you should do is take care of yourself.

3. Meditate

It is a proven fact that meditation can help you deal with stress. When you are in a toxic work environment that drains you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to meditate.

This helps you focus on the fact that nothing is permanent, and this negativity will pass as well, and you shouldn’t concentrate on them but let them go.

4. Focus On The Positive

Gratitude is extremely vital because it reminds you of what you have and should be thankful for.

Counting your blessings is important by showing you what you already love about your job and what makes you stay.

During this process, you can also ask for help from those that care about you to better cope with these circumstances.

5. Move On and Get a New Job

If you think that there is no escaping this daily dose of negativity and stress, remember there is always an exit strategy, and you are free to take it.

You can start by moving on from this toxic person and their negativity. This can be done by leaving your current stressful, energy-sucking job and get another one.

Your happiness should always come first. Don’t stay in misery to please someone else.

How to Talk to Your Boss About a Toxic Co-Worker?

If you want to talk to your boss about a toxic co-worker and how he/she is affecting your productivity at work, you have to do it step by step and not rush towards it.

Here’s a step by step instructions to report about a toxic co-worker to your boss:

  1. You first have to identify the problem. Sometimes, what you think is a problem isn’t actually one.
  2. You should find the appropriate time to discuss it with your boss to have his/her undivided attention.
  3. You should know exactly what to say and prepare beforehand.
  4. Tell your boss about all your other co-workers who may also have complaints too and suggest a solution.
  5. Then leave it all to your boss to find a fitting solution that will benefit all parties.

How to Avoid Toxic People?

Along with the already mentioned strategies, you always have ways of avoiding toxic people.

  • Since toxic people tend to be manipulative, the first thing you can do to avoid them is to identify the toxic pattern. Because without identifying their pattern, you can’t break it.
  • You have to realize that it’s not your job to save anyone.
  • Stop trying to be too nice to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
  • When you make a decision, be firm about it, and don’t back down. 
  • Agree to disagree respectfully.
  • Resolve conflicts smoothly with toxic coworkers.

Concluding Thoughts On Dealing With Toxic Work Environment,

Toxic people are hard to handle by themselves, but toxic co-workers are much worse.

To recognize that you are involved in a toxic relationship with your co-worker, you have to know the different signs that show who and when a person is toxic, and you should back off.

Your workplace is supposed to be a place where you unleash your creativity, not one where you are drained of both your time and energy.

To get out from under that toxic co-worker, follow the above-explained steps to deal with toxic people and what to do by yourself to handle and ease such situations.

Nihar B
Nihar B
With a decade of experience as a woman in tech, Nihar has worked with a range of companies from Fortune 500 corporations such as IBM, Accenture, Ericsson to H&M Group. Her diverse work-life enables her to share her knowledge to develop, grow, and succeed both professionally and personally in today's ever-changing world.

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