In a job you don’t really get a say in who you end up working with so you will be partnered with with a variety of people from many backgrounds. This can make for a great working environment – you all have something to learn from each other, and learn about each other.
Unfortunately these differences can also cause confusion, issues and offence if not understood properly and these small misunderstandings can soon blow into a big issue amongst members of the team.
Usually these problems are easily dealt with between the two people in question. With toxic coworkers though things get a bit more complicated as they don’t just upset an individual, they try to pull in the whole group into their fight.
Toxics (as we’ll call them from now on for brevity) come in all shapes and sizes and I’m sure you’ll recognise one or more of them from the list:
- “The Ladder Climber“: These coworkers don’t care who they tread on to get ahead. They’ll take your ideas, step all over you and do anything to get to the next level.
- “The Shirker“: These guys are another type of Toxic who are happy to take credit for others work. They differ from the Career types though as you very rarely see them. They won’t turn up for meetings, won’t offer any support or assistance – heck, they won’t even make you a coffee.
- “The Tantrum Thrower“: These guys will offer suggestions, some good and some bad. It doesn’t matter the reasoning why you haven’t accepted their suggestions, they’ll throw their toys out of the pram and kick off at the slightest thing.
- “The Lone Wolf“: These guys don’t understand collaboration. They think that the group will slow them down, or not achieve the outcome they want so they go their own route. This may work in some cases but it may hurt the team in the end.
- “The Backstabber“: These guys don’t have a nice word to say about anyone – behind their backs at least. They’ll be as nice as pie to your face but they will be saying all sorts of nasty things to your coworkers behind your back. This leads to divisions in teams, uncertainty who to trust and who you can speak to.
- “The Me Me Me’r“: All they talk about is themselves. You may have had a fantastic wedding and honeymoon but they won’t ask you about that, instead they will regale you with blow-by-blow details of their new patio installation. They have no time for other people’s troubles or successes, just their own.
- “The One Upper“: You’ve just run a half marathon? That’s nothing! They’ve just climbed Mount Everest! The One Upper will always have to go one better than you.
- “The Poor Me“: Life, the Universe and Everything is against this person. Nothing good happens to them, life is always against them and it’s never their fault.
- “The Drama Queen“: They broke a nail! The dog ate a bar of chocolate! Their daughter got a D-! Every small drama turns into a crisis for these guys.
- “Liar, Liar Pants On Fire“: You never know if what’s coming or of this coworkers mouth is true or one of their fanciful tales. You always feel like you need to take everything they say with a pinch of salt.
- “The Soul Sucker“: These guys are the opposite of the life and soul of the party. The minute they walk into the room the life gets sucked out of it. Any sense of joy or fun is gone. These people usually exhibit another toxic trait which aids the soul sucking.
- “The Blamer“: If something goes wrong, it’s not their fault – even if they’re in charge. You’re involved in something they signed off on? Your fault. You served a customer and then passed them over to be helped further and something happened? Your fault. These guys are also known as Teflon Tony’s“
The above list isn’t exhaustive by any means so if you have any more examples to add please add them in the comments.
So, how do you deal with toxic coworkers?
Maybe the Toxic didn’t realise what they said was quite to rude or upsetting – unlikely, but you should always give someone the benefit of the doubt once. Let them know that what you just heard was unacceptable, and why you feel this way. Be as clear as possible so that there is no room for confusion, that way if they do it again you don’t have to feel guilty about taking further action.
If you don’t feed the Toxic then they have nothing to gain from their actions Walk away from the Toxic and they’ve lost their audience and their power. Just be careful that they don’t switch their toxic attentions on to someone else in your place.
If you know that someone could possibly be a Toxic then keep your cards close to your chest. The less information they have about you, the less damage they’ll be able to cause to you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t tell them anything about yourself, just limit the amount of personal information you offer up.
Keep a mental note of the more outrageous things they come out with – this is especially in the case with the “Liar, Liar Pants On Fire” toxic. People often lose track of the tall tales that they’ve told different people and you’ll soon be able to catch them out.
If you fly off the handle then they’ll have the reaction they crave but if you do nothing and let them walk all over you, you’ll almost telling them that what they’re doing is acceptable so they’ll keep on doing it. It can be diffcult to find the right balance, but it’s important that you are true to yourself and convictions.
Sometimes a Toxic doesn’t understand that there are consquences to what they say or do and because nothing has happened to them in the past they feel they can act with impunity. If you’re not happy with the way you are being spoken to (or about) at work then raise this with your line manager or H.R department. Once the Toxic realises that there are rammifications to their actions they will hopefully stop.
As difficult as it may sound, you can’t keep holding a grudge. At some point you will need to push your thoughts about what they’ve done to one side – you can’t alter the past but you can use that information to change how you react to them in the future.
How do you deal with toxic people in your life? Do you ignore them or confront them? Do you ever try to engage in meaningful conversation with a Toxic-type person?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Featured Image: Poison Medicine Bottle by qimono on Pixabay