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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.

Build a better relationship

Rucker also notes that she needed to work on helping these individuals get to know her in return. Learning this lesson has allowed her to flip many difficult relationships into successful outcomes. "The more I developed relationships with people, understood their style and learned how to communicate with them in ways that resonated with them, the easier it became to work with others," says Rucker. "I had to realize that to other people, I was the one that was difficult to deal with. I was the one that was deliberately misleading, I was the one that had a takeover mentality, and I was the one always looking for a fight."

Set boundaries on your time

You may assume a coworker can control your emotions and suck you in, but people often-times have more control over the situation than they may think, according to Garcy, "Often there is at least a small moment when you have a decision to make. There's that microsecond of freedom when you make a choice; that's moment when you can say to yourself, 'I don't want to encourage or engage in this drama.' At that moment, decide that you're going to do whatever you can to politely create a boundary. Make it your practice to gently and politely tell this person what you will and won't do. It will probably take a lot of repetition. Focus upon your own behavior. Realize that it is going to take time before this person takes your boundaries seriously and learns that they are there."

Since you can't change the other person's behavior directly, the safest bet is to tell them what you are going or not going to do. For example, you might try saying something along the lines of, "I'm going back to work now," or, "I'm not going to spend my work time on non-work items."

If this person is someone who you know is going to take up a lot of your time, Rucker recommends trying this approach: "I set the tone when I start talking by stating, 'I only have a few moments, but I want to catch up with you on how things are going. What's the latest update with your issue?'" This will let the other individual know that you are concerned, but also prepares them for you to move onto another subject without taking up an inordinate amount of your time.

Identify the real issue for you

Is the coworker's behavior impacting your work? If the answer is yes, try to communicate with the coworker at a time and in a place that allows your coworker some dignity. Then explain the situation.


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