Seven Ways to Manage a Toxic Coworker

Unless you are a hermit, you create, navigate and manage relationships every day. Some take more effort than others, but if your interactions with fellow employees leave you feeling exhausted, stressed and unproductive, you may have a toxic coworker.

There is a difference between problem solvers and chronic complainers. Limit your exposure to the latter by setting boundaries, disengaging and, if necessary, taking action.  Here are a few tips on how to manage negative people in the workplace.

Keep it professional: If you work closely with this person, keep your conversation on professional topics. Keep a clear agenda in mind and make your interactions work-focused.

Don’t participate: As tempting as it can be to chime in on complaints that you can relate to, this only encourages toxic coworkers to keep talking and may signal to them that you are on their side.

Avoid negative bonding: Sometimes shared adversity can turn into something less friendly than friendship and become, instead, a practice in perpetual pessimism. It is unhealthy. Don’t do this to yourself or enable it in another person.

Redirect: If conversation turns into a gripe session, redirect the discussion back to the work-related topic. And if the complainer is too focused on griping to notice, explain what you enjoy about your job. Eventually, he or she will realize you are not an ally.

Get busy: Toxic coworkers can be time sucks. If a colleague tries to distract you, politely explain that you are focusing on a project and have to get back to work.

Be unavailable: If you have an office with a door, close it when you are doing focused work. If you have a cubicle or other workspace, put up a sign indicating that you are busy. Or, if your office allows it, wear headphones or put in earbuds.

Put it out there: Sometimes the direct approach is best. If you feel comfortable, tell your coworker that discussing personal issues is distracting you from important work and explain that you will not engage in those discussions at work.

PSG can help you find a place to work that suits your skills and is a good fit, but how you react to people around you is up to you. Get the upper hand and keep it by maintaining a professional distance from negative coworkers and projecting a positive attitude.

If you are a job seeker looking for a staffing agency that works to understand your needs and pair you with opportunities that bring out the best in your abilities, contact PSG today!