In most personal situations, we can try to avoid the impact toxic people have on us by limiting our interaction with them. But how do we do that in an environment where we don’t pick and choose those who surround us?
At some point in our careers, many of us have had to work with a “toxic worker.” This person is a colleague or boss whose harsh personality or devious behaviors make the workday miserable. These behaviors often shift the morale in other employees, create conflict in the work place and can potentially hurt the company’s reputation.
Research shows that up to 80 percent of all difficulties within organizations stem from poor or strained employee relationships. This means that it is more helpful for the overall success of the company to avoid such employees. Difficult work environments can cause anxiety, depression, and in some cases, physical illness.
In most cases, it is very easy to identify the common types of toxic persons in your workplace.
Here are three classic types and ways to deal with their behaviors:
1. The Escalator
There are some co-workers who escalate every issue to a level 10, instead of fixing problems and finding reasonable or logical solutions with the person directly involved. This makes it hard to build relationships where colleagues trust one another, and in the long run, wastes time (as well as money). This toxic worker feels the need to alarm supervisors with trivial issues that could either be avoided or solved among peers. These types of employees waste time, and lack problem solving techniques.
The best way to handle these colleagues is by addressing the issue with them directly and offering solutions in tackling the issue. Ask them to approach you directly so you can discuss and work towards a common solution, and if one cannot be found, then you can both alert your managers to find the best way to fix the problem.
2. The Complainer
Constant complaining can make a work environment toxic. This particular co-worker is always quick to point out the worst-case scenario, and thus changing the mood of others with their negativity.
If you encounter this colleague, either change the direction of the conversation to highlight positive aspects of the situation or project. You can also redirect them to come up with solutions to the issues they are speaking about. If neither of those tips work, it’s probably best to avoid conversation altogether. You may not be able to shift their perspective, but you can limit your exposure to their negativity.
3. The Time Consumer
This person has a lack of respect for schedules and a person’s need to concentrate on his/her work. They often show up at your desk and engage you in long conversations, ask numerous questions, or email/phone persistently, with little regard to realistic time frames. If you encounter this colleague, it’s best to let them know you are working on a tight deadline, and either give them a specific time to return or ask them to schedule a meeting for further discussion.
The most important way to deal with toxic co-workers is to set boundaries with yourself so that you do not allow them to waste your time or cause you to under perform your own job. If at all possible, limit your exposure to them, avoid office gossip, and stay focused on why you are both there: to work.
Don’t surround yourself with people who won’t challenge to be better than you are.