toxic coworker

At some point or another everyone in life will encounter toxic co-workers. The ratio of crazy people is just too high. Avoiding them is a good strategy to start, but it’s really not enough. You have to get tactical when you are confined to the same office, and especially if your work coincides with theirs, or worse, you actually need them for things. Limiting communication is key to averting their attention towards you. True, this means they’ll most likely find someone else, which doesn’t fix anything in the grand scheme of things, but hey at least it’s not you anymore. But what about actually fixing this kind of situation permanently?

Once you can identify when someone’s actual behavior becomes toxic, that’s when its time to start looking for solutions. A copout is just trying to get that person fired. This isn’t necessarily the answer either. Because what does that really translate to? You are now sinking down to their level, and becoming another devious person in the workplace with bad intentions. Maybe the toxic coworker doesn’t even realize that they’re toxic at all. Maybe they think the opposite and that their inappropriate behavior is seen as entertaining.

The first thing you should do is accept that person for who they are, and know that you can’t change them, after all, you’re just someone who works with them. Once you’ve accepted them in this light, you can begin trying to remedy this situation.

Be honest and level with them

You could not say anything, but that will only let things get gradually worse, or the culprit will assume you aren’t bothered by them. This day and age you can’t attack anyone in the slightest bit, or else all hell breaks loose. You don’t want to lose this person in this way and instead talk to them about the things that are affecting you personally. If you come clean they’ll usually hear you out. Ask if you are doing anything to them that they dislike and how you can remedy the situation. Try to highlight the interaction between the two of you so they have it in their minds that you clearly disapprove of certain things they do. Once everything is on the table, they’ll more than likely agree to stop these behaviors if it’s affecting your productivity and work in general.

Set a goal 

Rather then explaining to toxic co-workers how your workplace could be better if they stopped doing all the annoying things they do to people, including yourself, show them. Since it can be hard to get your point across in today’s world, setting an example could be a good alternative. Don’t be late, ask others if they need help when they never ask, show appreciation and thank others for their contributions to projects, and above all show that this is a TEAM environment.

Toxic co-workers tend to veer away from this by gravitating towards detrimental habits like:

  • Backstabbing, throwing others under the bus, blaming, bashing, (but would never say a word to your face)
  • Gossiping and spreading rumors and lies
  • Stealing and hoarding information and using it as leverage for later
  • Having a personal agenda that to them supersedes any kind of team development

Talk to the Boss

This isn’t tattle-telling or snitching. Not if your coworker is negatively affecting everyone around them including you. The boss has the right to know these kinds of things, and the power to squash most issues internally and could call a meeting with everyone. They could either choose to identify the troublemaker, or not and simply make it known that the recent behaviors you identified will not be tolerated by anyone. Think about it, there’s a very high chance that the toxic employee has affected many others, and not just you. A group discussion could really have several people speaking up about the matter, and if only one person continues these behaviors after a group conference, well then the fate of their job is on them and no one else.

Its a hard fact of life that you’ll encounter difficult people at some point that you have to tolerate because it’s circumstantial, like working with them every day. Don’t be the one who doesn’t speak up, be the one that makes the change and makes the difference. Usually, in modern workforces today, let’s be honest, people like this really don’t last that long anyway. Most people, managers & owners included, are just trying to get through the day and go home with a minimal amount of work-related stress.

Remember, HR is always at your disposal too.

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