Have A Toxic Work Colleague? Here's How To Deal With Them

by Simona Terron

Communication at work can be fraught with misunderstandings and on a daily basis, one can face multiple pitfalls on so many different fronts. These could easily lead to arguments with your colleagues, your reputation being ruined or worse, losing your job.

Is there a solution to this problem? Does one simply end up being pushed around, holding it in till you explode one day and go postal? Or does one have to become exactly like the very people you dislike, practicing sleazy politics and behaving like the kind of person you promised yourself you would never become? There's no escaping having to work with people who are not exactly the brightest or nicest, but for the sake of a paycheck and your career prospects, it's often better to grin and bear it.

We feel your pain, we really do.  And no, you don’t have to resort to violence or suffer in silence, either. Instead, we give you simple guidelines on how to get by in the office with decorum and courtesy, while still keeping your dignity intact. These are the tactics you need to employ when dealing with these 4 types of toxic co-workers in the office:

  1. Bullies: No matter how big the playground, there will always be a bully on it. And this doesn’t change just because that childhood arena is now a corporate office. The best way to deal with someone who is resorting to violence (verbal, emotional or even physical) is to stand up to them, and call them out without being intentionally provocative. If they continue to behave in a nasty manner, maintain your manners while dealing with them but avoid engaging with them more than necessary. And if things escalate to the point where it gets deeply personal or excessively hurtful, take the matter to a higher authority or report it to your human resources department.
  2. Shirkers: Every team always has that one person who tries to get away with doing less than their share of the work. While some folks genuinely can’t cope with shouldering an extra load due to family, health or other reasons, it’s unfair for anyone to expect a team to pitch in during a crisis, but exempt one person every time. Be firm with this person but without hitting below the belt or losing your cool. Give them a couple of chances to redeem themselves but if they continue to try and get out of their duties, you need to be firm with them or let them know that their rewards will be affected as well.
  3. Credit Hogs: Sharing ideas during a brainstorming session or pitching in suggestions during a meeting can be an exciting way to channel everyone’s energy towards a single goal. But it’s shocking how often one person claims that they’re the origin of someone else’s notion or pretends that they came up with a solution that they had nothing to do with. In cases like this, speak up and point out gently how wonderful it was when the idea’s original author mentioned it during the meeting. If the culprit is too thick-skinned to take a hint, feel free to spell it out.
  4. Gossips: Folks who are insecure and tend to be envious of their coworkers try to bring them down by spreading rumors about them or trashing their reputation behind their backs. This is a sad reality in many an office but you shouldn’t put up with it. If you find the source of the malicious rumor, confront them in the presence of a senior colleague and put an end to the matter. Usually, simply asking such people to stop indulging in petty behavior works, but if it doesn’t, perhaps you need to be a little firmer with them like threatening them with legal action.

Your workplace needn’t be the source of stress and anxiety. These simple hacks can help you make it through the day without losing your cool, your mind, or your happy vibe.

Image: Shutterstock

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