We all know that it’s impossible to get along with everyone, and there are bound to be people that don’t like you just as well as there are bound to be people you don’t like. However, sometimes we have to work with people we don’t like every single day, and on occasion, those people can be absolutely terrible. If you want to learn how to protect your sanity at work, here are a few strategies for dealing with toxic coworkers.
Avoid Isolated Interaction
Typically, a toxic coworker won’t show their true colors around other people, and recording every interaction you have with them is impossible. You want to steer clear of having any one-on-one interaction with them, so you can either avoid isolated interaction or make sure another party is present. If you can’t do either, pay attention to the interaction and email them the conversation that occurred so it’s on the record. Of course, they can deny it, but this makes it much harder to do so and puts them on the spot.
Utilize Emotional Detachment Skills
It’s easy for people to tell you not to take things personally, and while the sentiment is true, it’s certainly not easy. It starts with learning how to separate your feelings from who you are as a person. Your job is something to help you generate income, so think of it as a task rather than a part of your life. You are more than your job, and it’s essential to learn how to manage your energy, so don’t let a toxic coworker stop you from doing your tasks. They’re just another hurdle, not a reflection of who you are.
Be Assertive and Set Boundaries
Sometimes, the only effective strategy for dealing with a toxic coworker is to face the situation head-on and have a direct conversation from the get-go. Once again, you shouldn’t do this alone, so if your local laws indicate you can record this conversation, do so, or have another coworker or employer present. This is an excellent time to practice those emotional detachment skills. Remain calm, even-toned, and professional, and only state the facts, nothing that they can argue or lead you to fall into the traps of he said, she said.
Know When Things Have Gone Too Far
There are times when negative or toxic behavior can go too far and become something that needs to get dealt with immediately. If a person is harassing you based on your sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability, or they harass you physically, verbally, or sexually, report them immediately. They’re creating a hostile work environment, which doesn’t just affect your work; it can also affect your emotional well-being.
Whether you decide to report their behavior or ignore them entirely, you should never allow someone to make you feel like less of a person or make your life difficult. Next time you go to work, keep your head high and remember your worth and why you’re there.