Experts share the five steps on how to deal with difficult co-workers – and why you should never try to beat them at their own game
- Anyone working full time knows they spend more time in the office than at home
- And your experiences at work have a huge impact on overall enjoyment of life
- Unfortunately, it’s quite common to experience toxic behaviour in the workplace
- Here, Australian experts shared steps to help you cope with toxic co-workers
Working with difficult colleagues is inevitable – and chances are you have come across a toxic co-worker or boss at some point in your life.
And Australian workplace experts Rose Bryant-Smith and Grevis Beard revealed how your experiences in the office have a huge impact on your overall enjoyment of life.
Unfortunately, it’s quite common to experience toxic behaviour in the workplace.
From manipulation, aggression and gossiping to lying and blaming, not only do these behaviours ruin your day, it can also damage your mental health and wellbeing.
Here, the authors of Fix Your Team shared a survival guide to help you rebuild relationships, deal with conflict and stop destructive behaviours if you find yourself embroiled in a toxic workplace environment.
Choose your battles
Don’t get sucked into emotional games with a toxic co-worker.
Many manipulative and high conflict people try to recruit their colleagues into ‘us and them’ scenarios, which undermines otherwise healthy working relationships, and causes confusion and conflict.
Maintain a strategic, deliberate and calm approach. Choose which issues are the most important to respond to, and which issues you can ignore.
Make the toxic behaviour visible and ‘on the record’
Many bullies and harassers work behind-the-scenes, when no witness is present.
Avoid one-on-one meetings with the toxic person if you know from experience that you’re likely to get cornered and treated badly.
If someone is undermining you using their positional power, send them an email to confirm the content of conversations and agreements, so it’s harder for them to deny later.
Is there someone you trust in the workplace who can help you to navigate the organisational politics, understand your rights, and choose the best pathway to assert yourself?
It’s okay to de-brief and get support from your friends at work, without creating factions or cliques.
If you are considering involving human resources, your employer may have a legal obligation to take action – particularly for bullying, sexual harassment or breach of business conduct rules.
Watch your emotional energy
Mindfulness is a great mindset to choose, when you are dealing with a toxic colleague. Think about how you show up at work each morning, and stay present.
Get coaching and counselling if that will help you to stay on track. The ‘fight or flight’ response is natural when you are dealing with a high conflict person or feel a risk of being harassed, and it’s exhausting.
Take regular breaks during the work day if you can, and also take time to recharge outside of work.
Hold onto your integrity
Be your best self in the face of adversity, and stay true to your values.
Toxic conduct can bring out the worst in everyone, so choose to be better than the bully, the gossip and the underminer. Your integrity will be a source of strength. You will also model presence, grace and dignity to those around you.
Dealing with a toxic co-worker is never easy. You may not be able to change your colleague’s conduct, but their impact will be reduced with your strategic approach, right mindset and firm resolve.