Quick Tips For Surviving Toxic Worker Run-ins

It is a rare workplace made up of consistently professional and respectful staff. Learning how to navigate difficult coworkers is a fairly basic requirement for work in the modern American workplace. Toxic employees, by their nature, understand how to take advantage of others.  They are willing to escalate their behavior to the point where others will acquiesce and walk away frustrated. You aren’t the first “victim.” You’ve seen this happen to others. The problem is that it is difficult to shift the behavior patterns.

Common mistakes

  • Thinking you can out-toxic them – Forget it.
  • Thinking it’s about you – Getting you to think you’re at fault is how they manipulate others.
  • Thinking because it’s unfair it needs to stop – No question that it is unfair.  No one thinks abuse and intimidation is fair, but they’re not driven by a code of fairness. The problem is they are good at staying below the radar.  It’s complicated to terminate them.

Mental re-frame

Unless you’re the supervisor, you don’t have the power to stop it all together. You can, however, control your behavior and how you see it. Here is a thought shift to help you stay grounded, healthy and productive at work.

 Five quick tips – think of it this way

  1. It’s not me – you know they do this to everyone.  If you’re feeling insecure get some help to feel better about yourself but don’t let this toxic person make you feel like their need to control others is your fault.
  2. It’s not everything – the more your job is your whole life, the more this person will get under your skin.  Develop a full and rewarding life where work is only a part – hobbies, activities, interests will make this seem less important.
  3. Don’t power struggle – “You don’t have to go to every fight your invited to attend.” Resist the temptation to set yourself up to lose a power struggle.  Don’t start.
  4. Use a friendly voice – tone of voice is something toxic people read immediately.  If you start with frustration in your tone, you’re done.  Start and end with a friendly voice. It costs you nothing.
  5. Talk about what is happening – “So, I came and asked you for a training file and though I’m the trainer you’re saying I can’t have it because it’s Tuesday.  Hmmm, okay.  I’ll let the VP know your reasoning.  Have a nice day (friendly voice).”  Walk away while they try to have the last word.

In the end, be glad you’re you and not them. 

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