Dealing with toxic people in the work place can sometimes seem like it’s part of the course and unavoidable. But the way they can impact your daily work life and personal wellbeing doesn’t have to be unavoidable. They can bring daily stress into your life and environment that isn’t necessary, but how do you even recognise the signs? Read below to see some of the key attributes of a toxic person:
They often need to be right about everything:
It’s an ego thing. A toxic person hardly ever wants to be wrong, because they lose face, which means they lose power. This cannot happen for them, because it’s damaging to their ego. In their need to be right about things, they’ll often flag how wrong other people are. If anyone continually points out how wrong you are, or consistently disagrees, then that should start the alarm bells.
They make you question yourself
If you find yourself constantly changing your behaviour to avoid negative conversations or to protect your feelings with someone, then it’s most probably them at fault and not you. A toxic person is dangerous, because they make people question themselves, by declaring the other person is ’emotional’, or ‘misinterpreting’ etc. This deflection is a tactic used to control and reduce other people, in order to assume a position of power.
They hardly say anything positive or nice
Constant criticism, gossip and bickering are all signs of a personality that is largely negative. If you know someone who’s gossiping about other people a lot, then this is both a toxic and a warning sign. Remember, if they’re talking about others, they’re probably talking about you too. Steer clear from personalities like this in the workplace, as it can interfere with your day-to-day office life and have an impact on your confidence.
Steps to take if you encounter a toxic person:
- Minimise your exposure to them as much as you can and try to avoid situations where you have to be around them.
- If there are several times in which you encounter their toxic behaviour, then start documenting examples of incidents that happen and when. You can use this to build a case when it comes to reporting to someone higher.
- Continue to be polite and honest. You do not have to stoop down to their level in order to converse with them. By rising above their low standards, you don’t give or allow them to have power over you. It also allows other people to see the toxic person for who they really are.
- Be assertive with them, as toxic people will often want their own way. You need to stand your ground and not give into them. They will try underhand and manipulative ways to get their own way, so make sure you anticipate this and continue to be polite, honest but very firm.
If you feel like any of the above is happening to you, then it’s time to re-assess the situation, or how you can make it work for the office environment. If it’s affecting your work or making it difficult for you to do your job, then bring it up with HR or your direct line manager. Or if you’re the owner of the company, then it might be time to talk to the person in question and understand the motives behind this. Consequences and action will need to be taken, especially as it creates a negative environment that your business simply does not need.