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5 Ways to Deal with Toxic Co-Workers in the Workplace

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You wake up and realize it’s gonna be another long day. Not that your job stresses you so much, but your toxic co-workers surely raise the stress-level to the roof.

Toxic people and destructive mindset linger within the workplace. To be honest, they are difficult to subdue. While some toxic people feed on other people’s energy, there also some who are unconscious about it -but it doesn’t make them better.

Because of this, the “prey” gradually loses motivation and enthusiasm to even go to work.

It’s common but a serious issue. These co-workers’ effects may last longer than you expect even long after you leave the job.

They may affect your social life, your approach to people and activities, or how you see yourself which is quite dangerous when not acted on.

Now, how to get rid of toxic co-workers if they inevitably exist in the workplace? Let’s unravel the answers as we read further on.

Signs of a Toxic Co-worker

First, let’s check if you really do have toxic co-workers or it’s an internal issue within your personality. We can’t say one is toxic just because you don’t like the person.  There’s a difference between personal preferences and a toxic co-worker.

Personal Preferences: it means you don’t like the person because it negates your principle or outlook on life. You may disagree with their style. You dislike their appearance, or they do the opposite of your expectations.

For example, you are introverted and would love a quiet space in your workplace.

When Co-worker 1 acts friendly towards you and you dislike it, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re toxic. It’s just not your preference.

Toxic Co-worker
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Moving on, here are the signs of a toxic co-worker that you have to be wary of:

1. Loves gossiping

In every workplace, we know too well who this person. The big mouth. This person gossip before, during, or after work hours.  

While they spend hours doing their jobs, they also work as secret agents and news reporters at the sides.

They are the type who talks behind others’ backs. Whispers and stories they treat as “confidential” are the most despicable to see.


2. The know-it-all person

This type believes that they can do everything on their own. Not to mention, they don’t listen to suggestions and comments.

The worst part is when it’s obvious that they can’t accomplish a job, but they try to deny it. These types don’t admit to mistakes. Ego shoots up extremely high to accept their faults.


3. Discriminates others

Bullies. These are the kinds that treat others with unfairness. They may exclude someone hanging out with a group. They criticize people to make the person feel small about themselves.

They find satisfaction and superiority in belittling others. But deep inside, they’re insecure people who’d eventually be lonely when they lose their friends.


4. Takes all the credit

When the employees team up for a project or goal, there’s likely a guy who thinks he contributed to everything. These are insensitive and arrogant people who love the spotlight.

They discredit other people’s efforts for their own acknowledgment.


5. Doesn’t take responsibility

Here you go again, a shift doing all things alone. Your co-worker’s nowhere to be found. These are the type that runs away when things get bad.

They may also be selfish and love personal comfort. They don’t take responsibility for their failures and blame others instead.

Harmful effects of toxic co-workers

How does a toxic co-worker affect the productivity of a person? According to Harvard’s research, 66% of people said their performance has declined due to their co-workers’ behavior.

They also found out that 78% lost commitment to their respective organizations, and 47% decreased their time on the job because of their co-workers’ toxic attitude.

In another survey of 2,000 working Americans by the Olivet Nazarene University, they found out that interpersonal relationships are why they get irritated in the workplace.

73% of people also find at least two to five people are annoying on their work regularly.

Additionally, 78% of participants have confronted their fellow workers about their behavior. Because of these effects, a person must know how to get rid of toxic co-workers and deal with the situation.

You may also like: What is Quarter-life Crisis and How to Deal With it

Dealing with Toxic Co-workers

If you have experienced any signs of a toxic co-worker and it already has an adverse effect on you, then you have to do something about it. Before it impacts your well-being, you have to step up and deal with them. Do these 5 ways in dealing with a toxic co-worker.

1. Do not engage

Yes, don’t engage.

When they approach you or try to be friendly with you, don’t engage. It’s better that you’re not on friendly terms than letting them leech off of your energy. When they start asking you questions, give a straight-to-the-point answer.

Act uninterested. Don’t even let out a forceful laugh when they joke around. You’re not a shock absorber that accepts the direct negativity they shoot off.

Starve them off the attention. Stay away from them whenever possible. Focus on the task and do not let unnecessary actions affect the job.

2. Keep the emotions in check

When someone spreads negativity, it is easy to lose control which may hurt others in the process. Don’t give in to this negativity.

Emotion in check in the workplace
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If someone tries to blame you, bully you, or throws criticizing words with you, remember that they are co-workers. They are neither the boss nor the one who pays for your meal.

Don’t let them get to you. When they see the reaction they want from you, they win. If you breakdown, cry or shoot anger around, it’s you who will be remembered, not the instigator.

Keep your calm at all costs.

3. Speak up to the co-worker

There are some cases when a co-worker doesn’t notice their toxic behavior. Confronting the person about their attitude might make them realize that they are wrong and correct their mistakes.

However, confrontations often don’t end well. It may build barriers within the workplace. But then, if you’re to choose between toxicity and a wall to prevent toxicity, which one would you choose?

I’d say, the wall. It’s okay not to be liked by the person you didn’t like either.

However, these relationships must not affect the quality of your work. Let them do their job, and you will do yours. It’s just that, nothing personal.


4. Reach out to the boss

If speaking to the toxic co-worker doesn’t help, try reaching out to a boss privately. See if they can do something to help solve the problem. It would also make them aware of the situation for the good of their company.

It may again lead to cracked relationships, but what’s the best option rather than cutting off toxic co-workers? It’s the best idea to let them know you’re aware of their doings.

On the other hand, they are aware of your feelings. They would be more cautious next time. Whether they continue their toxic behavior or not, at least both sides are aware.

5. Take care of health

Health –physical, emotional, and mental –is a top priority. When worst situations arise, decide if you can still stay or just leave the job.

The toxicity in the workplace weighs a heavier toll the longer you remain. If you’re at your wit’s end, and nothing seems to work right, decide now.

Talk with someone outside the workplace if needed. Start finding a new job and prepare to leave the toxic workplace.

Last Say

Toxic co-workers can be detrimental to health in the long run. If any signs or effects are present, it is best to deal with them immediately. Know what you deserve. Be aware of your own stress capacity and don’t sulk up to the toxicity.

There are thousands of companies out there and finding a new one isn’t impossible. Prioritize a company where you can grow and protect your well-being.

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