When we talk about how to best deal with toxic people, we know that distancing is one of the best solutions. However, in some situations this is not an option. For example, sometimes we are confronted with a toxic person in our workplace and we have no choice but to put up with this person and find a way to deal with him/her every day without being able to avoid him/her.
It is not only that we have to see this person every day, but we also have to work with him, achieve a concrete goal with him (or together in a group) and make sure that this endeavor is successful. This can be discouraging, but we can learn to deal with it.
Seven types of toxic colleagues
First of all, we can distinguish between seven types of toxic colleagues that we can encounter in the work environment.
- The protagonist. This is a person who always tries to be the center of attention. He determines how conversations go, imposes his own opinion. Protagonists are usually very competitive and will do everything they can to achieve their goals.
- The unreliable colleague. Unreliable colleagues never meet deadlines. They are always behind with their tasks, late for meetings or just for work, etc. The irresponsibility of these people in a workgroup also affects the other members.
- The gossip. The workplace is an ideal place for these types of people. We can clearly see how, especially during the coffee break, they comment on the things that others are doing or the things that are going on in the lives of others. Sometimes they even play “spy” and pass on information or important details to a superior; of course only information that is harmful to others.
- The indifferent colleague. One of the worst coworkers you can have is a coworker who does his job in the most inefficient way. These types of people don’t care about their work or their co-workers. They adhere to ‘the law of minimum effort’, which has negative consequences for the entire working group.
- The hothead. The hothead always seems to be very busy. That is why he will never greet or delight you with a smile. Hotheads don’t like to work in groups; they prefer to work alone.
- The contradictory colleague. This is a person who never agrees with the opinions and decisions of others. They always contradict others. It is very difficult to work with these types of people, as it is difficult to come to an agreement together.
- The competitive colleague. The competitiveness of this kind of colleague knows no bounds. They never pass up a good opportunity. They are always waiting to take credit for the achievements of others in the eyes of their superiors.
How do you protect yourself from toxic colleagues?
As we mentioned earlier, it is difficult to avoid toxic colleagues because you have to work with them every day. Therefore, we must ask ourselves the following question: How can I work with this colleague without allowing him or the situation to affect me?
For starters, it’s important not to play along with his game. The best thing we can do is not let ourselves get carried away by someone who is always angry or who always wants to be the center of attention. We have to accept it without letting ourselves be influenced by it.
If it really bothers you and you just can’t avoid it, try to reflect on the situation for a while. Try to think about why this person has such an influence on you, if there is anything you can do to prevent them from bothering you so much, and if there is anything you can change yourself. Change your perspective. Try to look at the situation with a little more humor or see it as an opportunity to learn. This will certainly be helpful.
If you’re dealing with a toxic coworker, don’t try to get his approval. If you do, you only give him power and you give yourself far too little value. This person will never praise you for your work. So show your pride, do your job to the best of your ability and above all try to respect your colleagues, even if they are toxic people.
Can Having Toxic Coworkers Ever Be Positive?
Not all types of toxic coworkers negatively affect us. While it may be hard to believe, some toxic coworkers can actually improve our productivity.
For example, a coworker who likes to gossip can be quite beneficial. Gossips give us the opportunity to disconnect ourselves and grow stronger as a group. Not only do they improve productivity, but they also help to make the workplace more relaxed, enhance the sense of camaraderie and promote efficiency within the group.
Everyone talks about someone else sometimes. This becomes a problem when it is used in a negative way or when we ourselves believe everything we are told.
The colleague who always contradicts the rest can also strengthen the working group as a whole. Why? Because it allows us to see the other side of the coin, consider the opposite point of view and be aware of whether our work is on the right track or not.
It is good if everyone shares the same opinion, but that can also mean that something is going wrong. It’s only a problem if this contradictory colleague wants to consciously thwart in order to annoy others.