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9 tips for dealing with toxic coworkers

Rich Hein | Aug. 11, 2015
Negative people in the workplace can take a toll on both your sanity and health. But before you point fingers ensure you've done you're part to build a healthy relationship. Here experts discuss techniques for dealing with difficult behaviours.

"Changing your perspective helps you cancel out the negative story you've told yourself about why the person doesn't like you, or why the person is working against you. If you can change your belief system at the root, then everything else that comes out of that will change, "she says.

Taking some time for yourself and changing your own perspective can help you adopt a more level-headed approach. Don't allow yourself to dwell on this person's behavior and get sucked into an emotional tailspin. Instead try to think of a solution. "You have at least two choices -- focusing on the problems or focusing on creating solutions.

Staying away from people-rating and focusing on problem-solving will help you. If you change your perspective to focus upon solutions, you're more likely to gain solutions. People-rating tends to stop you in your tracks..." says Garcy.

Style clash or toxic behavior?

Another important factor, according to Rucker, is to ensure you've made an important distinction. Are these people difficult to work with or toxic?

Difficult employees are those you say are opinionated or hard to get along with. They are sometimes protective of their turf, overzealous or stuck in their way of thinking. "It can seem like you're never able to get on the same page with a difficult person, and at times, it feels like every conversation you have with them is hard," says Rucker. However, she notes, that many times when you get to the heart of the matter, it may simply be a result of style clash and you're way of doing things may be contributing.

"I've found out that in many cases, the source of my difficulty in working with individuals can be a matter of relationship or style. This took a while for me to figure out over the course of my career, because I took people's behavior personally, and thought when people behaved badly they were deliberately being jerks and trying to give me a hard time. What I realized, though, was that I had a lot more to do with the difficulty of the interaction than I initially thought," says Rucker. She says she needed to step back and develop stronger relationships with certain people and take the time to understand their style and way of doing things. When she did, the result was a more productive working relationship.

Toxic employees, on the other hand, are dealing with more than just the ordinary issues of relationship and style. These are the employees who can spread negativity in your organization like a cancer. "Whether it's anger, fear, distrust, shame, hurt, abandonment, you name it, the toxic person has something inside of them that hurts those they come in contact with, and damages the fabric of a team," says Rucker.


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