How to deal with a toxic colleague?

Written by Anagha Bhat

A workplace is something that we spend major parts of our lives in. In fact, when we look at a typical day, it is majorly about our work and how we set everything else to go along with it. That is why one should always choose a job that they would enjoy doing. But sometimes, though you have chosen a job that you consider your dream one, you would never know who sits next to your cubicle and how they turn out to be.

Work friends are different from real-life friends. Though you can vent out almost anything to you real-life friends, only a work friend will be able to relate with you when you say how your team-lead does not consider any of your ideas or how the coffee machine never works but you’re tired of complaining it to the authorities and they never care.

But when the person next to your table or someone from your team, is the person who you want to rant about, that is when workday gets really difficult and it might also end up ruining your entire work experience.

Read on to figure out the different traits of a toxic colleague and several ways to deal with it.

#1. Someone that is controlling.

You find yourself slowly giving in to this person that always tells you what to do and when to do. They might make you believe that they are superior to you either at work level or at knowledge or even use age at showing their upper hand to you.

When you have finally realised that they are bossing over the kind of work you do, you need to draw the line. Learn to say no, nicely but firmly. Tell them that you would like to do something your way and it would be nice if they don’t cross over. This should keep them away from you.

#2. Someone that always puts you down.

That person is nice to you, but they just put you and your work down whenever they chance an opportunity. This might initially put your self-confidence under a toss and always leave you doubting yourselves.

It is best if you never allow it to happen, but if you find yourself with a person like this, learn to tell them why you are doing something and why you would want to do it that way, in short. Never give them too many explanations and always know when to cut their sentences off.

#3. Someone that makes up a negative outcome of every situation.

There is a tiny line between healthy venting and toxic complaining. If the boss gives them more work, they rant about how they’re so heartless and when the boss gives them a little lesser work, they then feel that they don’t consider them good enough. So, this person will not only make their own lives difficult but also drag you into negativity by constantly bringing it up in front of you.

And what you should do when such a person opens their mouth, is tell them that you wouldn’t want to listen to it right now since you are looking at the brighter side of the day and request them to stay away. When you do it a couple of times, they will realise that you have set a boundary for them.

#4. Someone that is manipulative and plays mind games.

Does that colleague make you do something that you absolutely don’t want to do? You didn’t do it because they forced you, but you were convinced by them or rather manipulated into doing it. They play mind games and make you believe that they are your well-wishers.

You will have to first notice such behaviour in your head because it might not be an easy task. And then cut them off right when they try to make your decisions and choices change.

Above all, when you find the toxicity escalating, it is always best to call it out directly.

Be straight forward, talk to your colleague about how one or more of their behaviour is causing you trouble. It could be a possibility that sometimes they genuinely understand and decide to change themselves and sometimes, they may just distance themselves from you because they were offended. But other times, they may also pick a fight. But remember that most people you work with, need not be your friends. So, though you should try to maintain a healthy relationship with everyone, make sure to not let them cross their boundaries and invade your space.

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