Tricks to deal with Toxic Co-Workers


Do you feel as if some of your coworkers are zapping too much of your energy? Or if their constant negative remarks and complaints have made your job unbearable? When dealing with toxic coworkers not only negatively impacts job performance but can also derail your career. To end such practices, below are a few tricks to deal with toxic coworkers.

Know when a line has been crossed

Many a time, the transition from healthy venting to toxic complaining can happen so slowly that even you cannot tell when the change had taken place or what had just happened before it is too late. Recent studies indicate that a significant proportion of the workforce lack self-awareness. 

As a result, there might be times when we have been putting up with toxic coworkers for years without even realizing it. So, to deal with such situations is by tracking your moods after the said conversation. Do you feel weighed down, overwhelmed, demotivated, or even snowed under? Are they emotionally venting directly at you? Is it constant? Is it extreme and not followed by any sort of apology or remorse? If the answer to all these questions is yes, this falls in the toxic category. You can be sure that a line has been crossed, and it is time to take action and start dealing with toxic coworkers.

Setting boundaries with toxic co-workers

Having friends in the workplace may have its perks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be best buddies with everyone. This is especially true if your coworkers are constantly unloading their baggage on you. In such scenarios, it’s fine to set boundaries and say no; in fact, healthy. Just professionally ask them to leave.

Acknowledge the toxic nature of your coworker and let them know that you are unavailable for chat, gossip, or any passive-aggressive venting while you have tons of tasks piling up on your desk. This doesn’t make you anti-social. It sends out a clear message to the other party where your priorities lie and where exactly do you draw the line. 

If none of this works, try wearing headphones to make yourself less approachable (it works like a charm, and you don’t even have to risk sounding rude!)

Woman standing with her hand raised

The direct confrontation trick

So far, if none of your indirect signals to the toxic coworker have worked, then perhaps it is time for a direct confrontation. After all, there’s only so long that you can stay without addressing the elephant in the room. 

Nobody wants to be the person who is always informing their colleagues at work, but being overly nice will only make you a doormat for everyone to step on. It’s time to play the hardball and deal with your toxic coworker head-on.

Try starting with a polite one-on-one conversation with your coworker before getting the bosses involved. Tell them outright what they have been doing and how they are making the workplace difficult for you. At times, people don’t even realize the impact of their own words and actions until someone lays it out for them.  

Just remember to be kind and considerate while being a professional at the same time.

Time to get the bosses involved

If none of those mentioned above tricks on dealing with a toxic colleague worked and your coworker’s behavior is still affecting you negatively, perhaps it is time to get someone higher up the ladder involved. Instead of directly approaching your boss, try talking to your supervisor or manager to figure out how to handle the situation. 

When doing so, keep in mind that you are constructive rather than a complainer and try minimizing conflict as much as possible. Help your supervisor understand the uncomfortable nature of your situation. Explain what you are reporting is indeed in the best interest of both your job and the company. If all else fails, you have to report the matter to HR, lest your work performance fall.

Final words: dealing with toxic co-workers

You will always come across intrinsically negative people. Their personal lives are so negative that it ends up spilling into the place of their work. To survive working with toxic coworkers, you must remind yourself that you are not their therapist. It is not your job. Showing compassion and empathy is good, but not at the cost of your sanity.

Read More: Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Important?

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