Toxic Colleagues

Many of us take it for granted that our workplaces are pleasant places to be for upwards of eight hours per day. We have colleagues we respect and enjoy and who respect and appreciate us. But there is an unlucky minority who may love what they do, but not with whom they work.

Working with “toxic” colleagues is a problem for some of our readers. These people make the office feel like an unhealthy and unhappy place to be, and can often sabotage an otherwise productive work environment. You know the type: always complaining; taking credit for the work of others; spreading gossip and not being a team-player.

There are a variety of ways of coping with toxic colleagues; with the simplest and least controversial being to let them know that what they are doing is unproductive. Often times the best way to handle a bully is to push back. A conversation where you point out specific examples of their behavior and its effect on the team may be enough to get them to modify their ways.

Another possible solution is to ignore the behavior. Sometimes obnoxious behavior derives from someone needing attention. If you ignore the colleague (like you would a whiny child) their behavior will change once they realize they are not getting what they want from you.

If neither of the above is successful, your next step is enlisting your manager and/or human resources department. If possible, have as much in writing as possible. Bring emails, memos or anything else that can support your claims that the toxic environment is hurting productivity. The most important thing for most companies is the bottom line so if the toxic colleague is undermining the ability to do business; your words will be appreciated.

Most importantly, be good to yourself outside of the workplace. Spend time with friends and family and make your weekends a time to de-stress, relax and have some fun.

Pamela Weinberg