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We spend a majority of our time at our workplace. Now, it is completely possible that at your office you may encounter one or maybe more toxic co-workers. These toxic and dysfunctional teammates can damage the culture and environment of the workplace. Some of the common toxic behaviors you will see include:

  • Backstabbing, criticizing, and blaming
  • Gossiping and spreading rumors
  • Hoarding information
  • Purposely undermining others
  • Caring about personal agendas and ignoring that of the team and company

Many employees tend to feel powerless in terms of changing their peers’ behavior and even leave the company when things become too insufferable. However, there are ways that can make life at work more manageable. Here are some steps you can take to deal with a toxic co-worker.


Have An Honest Conversation With Them

Most of the time, the best thing you can do is to respectfully approach the co-worker and have an honest conversation about their behavior. By not attempting can certainly ensure that things will continue to be dysfunctional. It could be that the person is unaware of the negative effects their behavior is causing. So, it would be helpful for you to provide productive feedback to them. It is important that you do not corner them or make them feel attacked because that will only cause things to get worse.


Keep Your Distance and Avoid The Negativity

If after having a conversation with the co-worker you find that their behavior has not changed, you might want to consider keeping your distance and focus on what you are doing. Toxicity can be contagious, so you want to keep a safe distance (that doesn’t affect your work) and avoid getting sucked into that negativity. There may also be a point when the toxic worker will look to someone else to complain to. You want to avoid joining in because it will only promote their toxic behavior giving them more of a reason to continue.


Speak With Your Supervisor

If you find that things are getting worse, it may be useful to loop your boss into the situation. You can suggest that they hold a team meeting to set up team guidelines and address challenging behaviors and conflicts within the team. You want to be sure that this is an authentic interaction that allows members to learn more about each other’s perspectives, set clear standards of the expected behavior, and improve peer-to-peer accountability.