How to spot toxic co-workers and how to handle them. Office life.

LifestyleNovember 29, 2022

You found your dream job, it is fulfilling, fun and exciting, but somehow you dread going to the office because of that one person who makes you and everyone else miserable. Before thinking of quitting your job, know there are ways to spot toxic co-workers and handle them.

According to Harvard Business School‘s definition, toxic co-workers are ones whose behaviour harms the organisation’s people and property. For example, detrimental behaviour can make the company lose money and clients and upset employees who decide to leave.

To help you spot difficult colleagues and know how to deal with them, here are the main signs your toxic co-workers:

The Gossiper

How to spot them

Your colleague loves to share anything he/she hears about other people in the office, especially when it is negative. Well, be careful. A toxic co-worker will share opinions about others, rumours or even a mistake somebody made to look better by making the others look bad.

How to handle them

Gossips are fun, I know, but because we must strive to become better persons at work and in our personal lives, we must resist it. Remember, listening to who is doing what to who is none of our business. If your toxic co-worker comes up with a “You don’t know what I’ve just heard about Mary” kind of line, stop the conversation. Be smart and interrupt. Instead, say something kind about the person who was about to be trashed out by your toxic colleague, change the topic and focus on work. You know what they say; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

And if you happen to have a problem with someone, don’t become the gossiper; talk to the person directly and privately.

The Selfish

How to spot them

Your colleague takes advantage of others, taking credit for someone else’s ideas or job. A toxic person is usually selfish and doesn’t care about the feelings of others, thinking that her time and her needs are far more critical than her co-workers.

How to handle them

A smile and kindness are the best weapons against selfishness. And by that, I’m not saying you should accept the toxic co-worker’s selfish behaviour. On the contrary, let him/her and the others know that you are aware of it. But do it with kindness. For example, praise the excellent work of that colleague who was taken advantage of. You should also show appreciation to the co-worker who fixed any problem the toxic person caused. Empathy is contagious, and soon the office morale will become much higher.

The judge

How to spot them

Your colleague doesn’t miss one opportunity to let people know that he “knows better” than everyone how to do their jobs. Like the gossiper, the judge likes to feel superior to others by finding any little mistake and making people feel bad about themselves. Their judgement usually comes with an eye-roll and a comment like “I would have done it differently“, meaning “better”, of course.

How to handle them

Judgmental people are only showing their fear of not being good enough. Do not get upset when your co-worker points out the typo you made or goes against your idea, saying that he has a better one. Instead, joke about your terrible typing skills and return to your presentation. Also, try to engage the toxic co-worker by asking him to help you with his idea. You should do this kindly, of course, never forgetting to smile. This way, you will show everyone, including the toxic co-worker, that his negative judgments do not affect you. On top, you will put him in a position where he will be obliged to help or keep his judgement to himself. Who knows, maybe the judge will feel happier judging less and helping more. Doing good is one of the best feelings a person can have; even your toxic co-worker will enjoy this happiness booster and may want to change.

Think about it

Difficult co-workers, over-competitiveness, and insecure bosses who boycott their team members are some examples of what we face daily. That is why human resources in large companies focus on their employees’ psychological skills as much as on their performance skills. The so-called emotional intelligence. In this case, stay aware that complaining is the last option you should use to eliminate toxic colleagues. Rewire your brain with positive thoughts and actions. Smile and be kind, focus on your work, try contributing to your team’s success, and know that your strength lies in your patience and ability to set limits. Usually, a toxic person is overcome by their own poison.

Image @Notoriousmag