Here’s the deal. Toxic colleagues come in all shapes, sizes and types: There’s the office gossip, the constant complainer, the lazy slacker, the passive-aggressive worker and the tai-chi master (you know, the one who pushes the work to everyone else so she does nothing). All of these types may aggravate you differently, but you can deal with them all in the same way. Here are five things you should try the next time you encounter a problematic person at work:
Don’t Take It Personally
Remember that it’s them and not you who are not behaving professionally. Whether it’s not seeing through a task they were assigned or pointing fingers at others for something they did wrong, keep in mind that you don’t have to take responsibility – or blame – for anything you didn’t do. So don’t make excuses for them and instead call them out on their bluff to your bosses. Make them pay for their own actions; all’s fair in love and work, after all.
Focus On Your Work
Don’t waste any energy thinking about how awful and ineffective they are – you’re only going to make yourself feel worse, so it doesn’t do anyone any good. While it’s hard to control your actions, what you can control is how you react to them, so think about your emotional health and don’t devote any time to their pointless dramas. Remember: You’re not auditioning for a role in the Real Housewives of Atlanta, so stay focused on your job and reserve the histrionics and hissy fits for the small screen.
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Don’t Get Emotional
There is no use getting upset because it won’t change their behaviour, so keep your emotions out of the equation. It’s hard to ignore a toxic person in the office because you’ll have to work with them, so allow them to fall on their own sword, so to speak, during big meetings. Let them speak and demonstrate to others just how ineffective they are; this way, you’ll avoid being accused of being petty or difficult.
If it’s possible to move your workspace away from them, do it. Being physically apart will save you some grief. But if you can’t, start by shutting yourself out from office politics whenever you can. Go for coffee and lunch breaks with your friends outside of work, for example, so you’re not engaging with people who are not good for you.
If someone crosses a professional line, don’t be afraid to document the incident and make a complaint. This serves as a clear warning that you won’t stand for any unprofessional nonsense, and also makes management aware of what’s going on. By flagging the issue to HR from the get-go, the toxic colleague will be less likely to have grounds for pinning the blame on you in the future.