Going to work and doing a job is difficult enough, without having to deal with a difficult co-worker on top. Having a toxic employee in the workplace can greatly affect the mood of everyone else, and it can reduce work output too. It’s thought that up to 80% of employees lose time in their work day because they spend it being concerned about the actions of a toxic employee, and up to 12% of people have left a job because of bad treatment at the hands of another person in the workplace.
Knowing how to deal with a toxic employee who’s harming your work output can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to react in a way that might add fuel to the fire. If you’re currently sharing your office with someone who causes tension and hinders your productivity and mood, keep reading.
Types of Toxicity
There are different types of toxic people in the workplace that you might come into contact with, and the type of person you come across will dictate the approach you will need to take to deal with them.
If you’re dealing with an overly dominant, abrupt character who is very blunt, controlling and aloof, it can be tricky to know how to approach them in a way that won’t result in a negative reaction. You might be tempted to tell your local office bully where to go, but killing them with kindness is often the best way forwards. Often, bullies thrive knowing they can get a bad reaction out of someone, but showing them that their actions actually don’t affect your and by remaining calm, you’re disarming them of their brutish behavior. Of course, if the bullying goes too far and doesn’t wear off or subside over time, or if it starts to get personal, speak to your HR department or manager. After all, you don’t want a Thomas Cutbush situation if things get too out of hand and become physically dangerous.
Sometimes, workplace toxicity can come in the form of someone bringing their emotional trauma into the office and having it affect everyone else. Naturally, there will be time when people have a bad day and it gets brought into the office, but if someone is consistently overly emotional and it’s beginning to impact your own mood or your ability to do your job, the situation needs to be dealt with appropriately. In this case, it’s best to refer to your manager so they can speak to the person directly and offer them the emotional support they need in a professional way. If you try to broach the subject yourself, you risk coming across as insensitive and potentially even rude which is not the image you want to convey for yourself.
The final most prevalent form of workplace toxicity comes in the form of someone who feels like are never wrong and who refuses to listen to feedback or other people’s points of view. This can easily cause friction between co-workers and can severely disrupt the running of a business, not to mention how an employee views their professional capabilities if they’re constantly being told by someone else that they’re wrong. Once again, in this event it’s best to refer to your manager and tell them that you feel like your team is not working as efficiently as it could due to one person who always goes against the grain and causes issues when it comes to idea sharing and formulating plans of action.
In many instances, workplace toxicity can be stamped out when it’s nipped in the bud early on, and so the best thing you can do is to make your employer aware of the problem as soon as it starts to have a negative effect on your work or your mental wellbeing. Oftentimes, there’s a root cause for all forms of negativity and once its singled out and addressed, you should find there are no other issues moving forwards and that you can effectively work with someone, even if they have posed issues in the past.