How to Deal with a Toxic Co-Worker

Toxic Co Worker

The office is a melting pot of sorts; you have many people with different backgrounds, different educational attainments, and different personalities all thrown in together. There will always be those who you get along fine with, on the other hand there are those who always seem to make your working life a living hell

We call them toxic co-workers. These are the people you work with who ooze negativity, use you or others to their own advantage, spread gossip, constantly remind others of their failures, and take credit for the hard work of others.

You want to see them fired and banned from the workplace, unfortunately the choice is not up to you. So how do you deal with them instead?

Don’t Take it Personally

This might be a surprise, but many experts suggest that seeing someone as toxic might all be in your head. Are you sure this person is behaving irrationally? Are you sure this person is really a pain? How sure are you it isn’t you that’s being too overly sensitive or presumptive.

One advice experts agreed on is not to take it personally when some shoots down your ideas, disagrees with you, or criticizes you. It helps to put things into context if you consider they may not be attacking you on a personal basis.

Keep Your Distance

If the office is big enough keep away from them. You can also try relocating to another work station to get away. Look for some reason to be allowed to relocate.

For offices that aren’t really that big the only choice you will have is to distance yourself from them mentally and emotionally. If you’re allowed to wear headphones at your desk put some relaxing music on for your benefit.

Creating space will also work; eat lunch alone or take a brief walk on a nearby street or at the park to just get away even for a few minutes.

Set Boundaries

Define what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior and make sure your co-workers understand where the boundaries are. Once you’ve been pushed too far it’s okay to push back. One sad fact in life is that once people realize they can walk all over, bully you, or take advantage of you, chances are they will do it again.

Tell the Higher-Ups About it

 If the behavior of some toxic employees has been particularly disruptive or abusive make sure the management knows about it and ask them to do something about it. There’s no use bottling up your feelings inside where they can fester and possibly turn you into a toxic co-worker yourself.


Notice that this is at the bottom of the list. This is an option, but also the last one. If there are way too many toxic co-workers for it to be a healthy working environment, if management are doing nothing to alleviate what is causing them to become that way, and if the management seems to take the side of the toxic people then perhaps it’s time for another job. There’s really no sense in staying in an office as emotionally unhealthy as that.

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