Life & Work Skills

How to Deal With a Toxic Coworker


If you’re lucky enough to enjoy your job, going to work everyday should be a fulfilling and enriching experience that not only adds to your life financially, but works to positively contribute to your emotional wellbeing and self-confidence. There are certain time periods that get a little stressful at work, whether that be a deadline or working your way through a miscommunication with a coworker. Unfortunately, sometimes these work stresses or mishaps come by way of a toxic coworker. A toxic coworker can really work to drain your energy and kill morale, but there are some ways to deal and see yourself through situations when you encounter one.


1. Try not to engage in their noise

It may seem like the easiest thing in the world to hear someone say something negative in the workplace and just turn a blind eye and get right back to work, but sometimes it’s really hard. There might be some grievances in the workplace that you’re experiencing yourself, but when a toxic coworker comes at you with certain information or repeated negative behaviors, the best thing to do is to try not to engage as that will help to establish a set boundary that hopefully they learn not to cross.


2. Try not to let their toxicity affect your own work

There’s something to be said about the old saying of just keeping your head down as well as staying in your own lane, because at the end of the day, your job is your responsibility and you need to show up to it, as well as be in the proper work headspace. If little cracks of negativity start to develop from being in proximity to a toxic coworker and their behavior, it can really start to affect your performance. As best as you can, continue with your regularly-scheduled work regime and keep up with productivity.


3. Have a candid conversation with them

This tip may seem like the least desirable action because it may put you in a vulnerable position, but most of the time in situations like this, if you don’t at least try to have a conversation, you’re pretty much guaranteed that nothing will change, according to Harvard Business Review. Also, if you keep the discussion on the impact that the toxic behavior is having on you and your work, then there’s a better chance that they might take a moment to step back and fully recognize that, rather than becoming hostile because they feel defensive.


4. Look to productive coping mechanisms

If you’re going through a phase at work that’s difficult, especially in terms of dealing with a toxic coworker, you need to take extra care of yourself and implement some much-needed coping mechanisms. Try to ensure that you’re coming to work most days after getting a full night of sleep. Maybe spend some extra time in the gym or on the yoga mat. And when you’re at work, maybe head off campus for lunch or some quick breaks to ensure that you’re not getting completely swallowed up by a possible toxic environment.


5. If necessary, speak privately with your boss or HR representative

Unfortunately, sometimes things escalate to a place where you’re either feeling completely stressed in your work environment due to a toxic coworker that you can’t properly do your work. Or sometimes, the toxicity even gets to the point of possible harassment or bullying. If it has gotten to this level and you feel as though you can’t handle the situation on your own, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to your manager, boss, or even human resources. In situations like this, they need to be made aware of what’s going on for the good of the company and their employees.