Working in an office environment, you are bound to work with a few people that you would dislike. However, toxic co-workers are a different breed as they can suck out the joy and happiness out of the environment in a snap.
Dealing with toxicity in the workplace can negatively affect not only your emotions in the office but your overall performance and even your health. As such, you must learn how to master the skill of dealing with toxic people in your organization.
Here, we will discuss some tips on how you would be able to erase or at least minimize the effects of toxic people in the workplace on your life. Take note, however, that there is no 100% solution for these problematic persons, and some of the advice given below may contradict each other. Still, it is worth to try some of these strategies to improve your experiences in dealing with such people.
Don’t Involve Yourself with Toxic People
Toxic people can affect you in many ways, and always in negative ways. Simply put, toxic people can be considered as a disease, and diseases should be avoided in order to maintain your health and overall well-being. Toxic people should not permeate your life, and you must separate yourself from them as much as possible.
Of course, you might need to interact with toxic employees from time to time as part of your job, but it is recommended that you keep it to a minimum. Emails or brief phone calls are better than face to face conversations to minimize interactions that may cause flare-ups to occur, either from your end or the toxic person in question.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can also try and befriend your toxic co-worker. One of the main causes of toxicity is the lack of support, emotional or otherwise. With this in mind, at least make an effort to help out either as a work buddy or as an emotional crutch.
You may be surprised that, with a good friend, your toxic employee can turn his or her personality around 180 degrees within a short amount of time, turning into a valuable asset in your organization as well as becoming a trusted friend and ally in the office.
Find the Root Cause of the Toxicity
There are reasons why people behave in a certain way. This can be due to a conflict at home, financial issues, or even problems with a manager or a co-worker. All of these and more can be triggers that cause toxic behavior. Pay attention to your toxic worker’s immediate surroundings. Are they being overworked? Are they being bullied? Is there anything that you think may cause such behavior to arise?
You can also pay attention to gossip, although you should be very careful about this. Maybe news about a family problem would come up. Knowing where the behavior is coming from is already half the battle. If it is something that can be resolved, then find a way to help in settling the matter. If it is something that you cannot assist in solving, then provide emotional support as needed.
Sometimes, you may be surprised that it is you that is the problem. This may be hard to accept, but it does happen, especially if no one feels the toxicity emanating from the person aside from yourself. If you find out that the behavior is due to friction between the two of you, then it is important to resolve your issues in a civil and professional manner.
Talking to a toxic co-worker directly about the issue can be a very sensitive situation. At best, it can clear up the air and can help in improving your relations. Worst case, it can simply escalate the situation.
Be very careful in choosing what approach you would like to do, but the most desired condition would be in a private setting. Ask your toxic employee out for lunch or coffee and find the opportunity to talk to her about your concerns.
You can start off the conversation by telling him about your discomfort in working with the kind of ambiance that the workplace has, especially when interactions involve the toxic co-worker.
Tell him that you are willing to solve any issues and to assist in order to improve the situation. More often than not, this can help settle things amicably, and you will definitely see relations improve, at least if both parties are sincere in making this better.
Tell a superior about the Problem
If the above strategies have failed, then it may be time to escalate the situation to either HR or to your immediate supervisor. Tell her about your concerns regarding the toxic co-worker without being a tattle-tale.
Provide broad facts and do not go into specifics unless these are requested. You can also help in devising a strategy on how upper management can help the employee improve his behavior for himself and for everyone around him.
It is very important to show concern towards the employee and towards the organization, as you would not want to give off a vibe that you have vested interests in voicing out these issues.
As previously stated, a toxic co-worker can affect you in many ways, and not just in the office. If all efforts have failed and you find yourself dreading coming to work every day as you cannot bear to be in the same place as your toxic co-worker, then it might be time to leave.
No amount of compensation is worth your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you can no longer take the toxicity, then request for re-assignment where you would no longer have to deal with the concerned employee, or take your talents elsewhere where you would be more comfortable.
Toxic co-workers are everywhere, and different people have different mechanisms and immunity to these kinds of people. If you feel that a toxic person is already affecting you or others around you significantly, then it might be time to take action.
No one deserves to be around negativity, and if you are able to do something about it for your own sake and for the sake of the team, then do not hesitate to correct the behaviour before it becomes too late and too severe to handle.