How to Deal with A Toxic Co-Worker

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How to Deal with A Toxic Co-Worker

By Derika Crowley

The average person spends more than 90,000 hours in their lifetime at work, so of course it’s natural for our personal and professional lives to overlap in some ways. Meaning, without try, if you spend enough time at a particular job – eventually you will encounter a toxic coworker.

A toxic coworker is defined as someone who engages in behavior that is harmful to an organization's property and people. The come in many forms and have many names, but we all know when we’re experiencing someone in the workplace who clearly has an issue.

Recently, I was dealing with someone at work who clearly had a problem with me. After multiple sit-downs, it was apparent her issues were personal, so I tried my best to let go, but once it started trickling into our client work (and quite frankly effecting my ability to work effectively) that’s when I knew it was time to take action.


Here are a few tips on how to deal with a toxic co-worker:

Access the Situation

Before you react, take a moment to step back and look at the situation in its entirety. Utilize your inner circle and see if how serious the situation actually is. Are you coworkers’ actions impacting your ability/do you see it impacting your work in the future? Can they potentially jeopardize your job? Do you have concrete proof of their inappropriate behavior in case you need it for Human Resources?

Asking yourself questions like this and talking to people you trust will allow you to see the situation from all perspectives.

Start Documenting

Create a little folder on your desktop and save all inappropriate behavior that your coworker is doing to you. This way, you’re more than prepared if you need to share examples with your boss or other superiors.

Talk to Your Manager and “Higher Ups”

At the end of the day, you need to protect yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your Manager (whoever else needs to know) exactly what’s going on. Sometimes with employee conflicts, you need a third party to manage the situation and find a solution. When dealing with a toxic coworker, you don’t know what they are capable of, so it’s important to share the situation with key players in your office – manager and Human Resources. Talking to your superiors also showcases that you’re making an effort to find a solution to the problem – which is something your team should appreciate.

Know What’s Essential to Say and What’s Not

With that point in mind, know what needs to be said. Your boss won’t care about the petty gossip stuff, they simply need to know how it’s impacting work from being accomplished. Keep the conversation work focused, for example making statements like “When they did _____ it made it more difficult for me to ______ and impact the efficient _____ task to get completed”.

Distance Yourself from the Toxicity

If it’s not essential for you to be around this person, then don’t be. Toxic behavior is contagious, and that type of negativity is the last thing you need in the workplace. Use this experience to see the personality types that don’t mesh with your and do your best to learn how to manage them. Not only will it help you in the workplace, but also in life.