How to Deal With a Toxic Coworker
Everyone hopes for a supportive, peaceful, and easy-going working environment. Unfortunately, at some point in life, most people come across a toxic coworker at least once. You might hope this is someone that you don't have to deal with very often. However, if you're having to engage with a toxic individual and deal with their negative or bullying behavior on a regular basis, it can begin to take a toll on your mental health. It can make it difficult to work up the motivation to go to work and may even lead to serious problems like low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression.
If this is a situation you're dealing with, you are not alone and there are things you can do to help with this problem while maintaining your mental health.
Recognizing the Signs of a Toxic Coworker
While you may look at this particular coworker as negative, cruel, or selfish, you might not realize that their behavior could actually be considered toxic and damaging to the overall work environment. Be on the lookout for the following signs, which could indicate that coworker is toxic:
- Only seeming interested in serving themselves and not the company or team
- Frequently engaging in rumors, trash-talking, and gossip
- Seeming to relish or enjoy the mistakes and misfortunes of others
- Being outwardly offensive to others either in words or behavior
- Purposefully fostering negativity in the workplace
- Acting divisive or trying to get people to come on their side
- Complaining about issues at work but not offering any solutions to the problem
Avoid Falling Into the Temptation to Gossip
If you're having a lot of trouble with a particular individual, chances are that other people you work with have had or currently have issues with them too. In the hopes of venting or simply gaining some solidarity with or validation from your other coworkers, you may feel tempted to complain to them about the toxic individual.
Whether it be by expressing your frustrations over email, trying to get people on your side, or even making fun of this person, you are only creating further division and feeding the toxicity. Additionally, you shouldn't let this toxic person take up extra room in your mind or life. When you're constantly complaining about them, you are simply allowing them to keep you in a negative state of mind.
Focus on What You Can Control
You can't control a toxic coworker's behaviors, but you can control your reaction to them. You can control how much you engage with them and how you respond to their behavior. Take time to consider the problem at hand and reflect on your options. Perhaps there is an easy solution available. Do you have the option to change your schedule or move to a different location in your office so you won't have to interact as much? If this is not a sacrifice you're willing or able to make, it may be time to consider having a candid, face-to-face conversation with your coworker.
How to Confront Your Coworker
Because information shared through texts or emails can be misinterpreted or even manipulated, it is usually your best option to engage with your coworker face-to-face, as uncomfortable as it may be. If possible, try to have this conversation in a private environment where you will not be overheard by other coworkers. That could make the conversation more divisive and combative than necessary.
Instead, in a calm, even voice and private setting, speak to the individual about their behavior and how it makes you feel. Tell them your concerns, whether they be personal or professional. Discuss steps they can take to improve their behavior and steps you might take if they don't.
Reaching Out for Help
In a perfect world, your coworker will take what you said to heart and make the necessary changes to improve the working environment. However, if this is not the case, it is likely time for you to contact your company's HR department and ask them to step in and handle the situation. They may be able to move this toxic employee to another department or, in some circumstances, may find cause to terminate them.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Trying to deal with a toxic coworker can be extremely taxing. Remember to prioritize your mental health during this time, whether that be by reaching out to a therapist or trusted friend to talk about how you're feeling or taking time away from work if dealing with this coworker has taken a toll on your ability to perform well. Make sure you're practicing self-care regularly as well as positive stress management techniques.
Everyone hopes for great, supportive coworkers with whom they can easily get along. The reality is that, at some point in your life, you're likely going to come across someone who is hard to work with. In some cases, this coworker may be considered toxic. Some signs of a toxic coworker include constant engagement in gossip, only having an interest in serving themselves, and seeming to enjoy the mistakes of others. If you have a coworker who fits this description, consider your options and determine if confronting this individual is necessary. If so, try to stay calm but firm when expressing how this person's behavior makes you feel. Don't be afraid to reach out to the HR department for help, especially if the toxicity has affected your mental health. At Sokya Health, we want to help you achieve better mental health starting today. Call (866) 657-6592 to learn more.