5 Toxic Co-workers and How To Deal With Them

5 Toxic Co-workers and How To Deal With Them

Every workplace has them. If you can’t figure out where the toxicity levels are coming from, it might be time to take a look at the man in the mirror.

By Candice Jackson | 18th February 2016

When one person starts behaving badly in a work setting, it can disrupt your entire working day, suck all the positive energy right out of the room, and make you question your own abilities and confidence.

Unless you’re uber successful and work for yourself (go you!), you’ve probably come across your fair share of toxic co-workers. And you probably know that, no matter what their damage, they can make your working life hell.

It’s exhausting trying to figure out why Co-worker A is out to get you, or why Co-worker B is happy to step all over you to get what they want. So forget that; instead, focus on how you can be a better leader or team member and calm your co-workers before the corporate cat fights start. Here are the top offenders to look out for and how to deal with them:

The Bulldozer

They make a lot of noise, make their presence known and aren’t afraid of presenting a “do as I say” demeanor.

How to deal:

  • Get their full attention by using their name, or even sitting down or standing up deliberately or abruptly. Not comically of course.
  • Give them time to run down their energy and don’t make personal attacks that might provoke more negative behaviour.
  • The Bulldozer will often derail progress by responding aggressively or trying to debate an issue with you instead of compromising and moving on. Make it clear to everyone involved that you’re sticking to the issue at hand and try not to be drawn into a side debate. This is the perfect time to bust out comments such as “Let’s agree to disagree” or “We can brainstorm ideas and come back to this issue later.”

The Know-It-All

They tend to jump in before you’re finished, act as if they know everything and present information in a way to intimidate or score points and rarely admit they are wrong.

How to deal:

  • Encourage them to consider alternatives without directly challenging their alleged expertise. Where possible, have material on hand to back up your suggestions, because you know stuff too!
  • Be tentative in disagreements and use questions rather than accusations to resolve problems.
  • Watch out for your own know-it-all responses. Avoid the temptation to match their condescending tone; it will only make things worse.

The Wet Blanket

They have a “glass half empty” attitude and are quick to provide the worst-case scenario even when it could have a negative impact on motivation and confidence. They’ll usually follow it up with “I’m just being realistic.”

How to deal:

  • Make optimistic and realistic statements about how you’ve succeeded in the face of similar problems in the past.
  • Avoid offering solutions until the issues have been fully discussed, because that can give opportunity to poke holes at your suggested solution.
  • Engage them in more rational problem-solving methods.

The Passive-Aggressor

The most common office bully: they often say what they think to others, but not to the person involved, waiting for the message to get through by word of mouth.

How to deal:

  • Stay calm when approaching passive-aggressive behavior and avoid getting frustrated or becoming passive-aggressive yourself. Just remember the advice from your mother and “kill them with kindness”.
  • Call attention to the process you’d like them to follow and get them to sit down and discuss the problem directly with you.
  • These people will often dislike being called out and tend to become non-communicative or silent when you deal with them directly. Avoid feeling sorry for the person and backing off; be gentle but firm and don’t let them sidle away from the responsibility.

The Clam

They abstain from team discussions or activities, appearing to have little enthusiasm for the job. When asked about a project, they’ll try to direct attention or blame elsewhere, especially if they’ve made a mistake.

How to deal:

  • Use open questions to coax a more detailed answer from reluctant co-workers, rather than a question that will allow them to simply answer “yes” or “no”.
  • Wait for their response; filling in the silence will indicate your discomfort and may indicate that they can clam up even more in order to get the situation over and done with much quicker.
  • Make sure to check in with what’s on their mind or what is bothering them. There might be a deeper issue that needs to be addressed before any smaller problems can be solved.

Left Field Consulting Services
leftfieldcs.com.au

Main image: Pinterest, The Devil Wears Prada

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Article by Candice Jackson

Candice Jackson is a former Journalist of Style Magazines. She has an uncontrollable sweet tooth, an irrational fear of birds and a love of travel. Candice believes in the Yes Man Philosophy.