We all have been exposed during a period of time to annoying, hateful, toxic coworkers that can drive us crazy. Sometimes, bringing us to ask ourselves whether they’re the problem or we are.
Wondering how to spot these toxic coworkers from afar and how to handle them?
Every workplace has difficult employees and we all have been, to some extent, in different situations with hateful coworkers. I do believe that we all, partially or fully, demonstrate some level of toxicity towards a third party in the workplace.
Below, are the 15 worst toxic coworkers that I have already met and have had to deal with.
Case Study #1: The Delicate
The Delicate is a sensitive person with vain imagination that constantly and easily feels under attack, and that takes things deeply and personally. The Delicate thinks that people are looking, gossiping and criticizing him or her!
- Keep the conversation on superficial topics and crack jokes about him or her.
- Avoid using sarcasm, making dry remarks, directly confronting this person. Instead, try to sugarcoat things and to give indirect constructive criticism.
Case Study #2: The Slacker
The Slacker is mostly concerned about personal life and regulating it during working hours.
The Slacker does not take his or her work seriously, spends his or her working life over the internet, cannot make a deadline to save his or her life, is not punctual even absent, unapologetically displays a lack of motivation.
The Slacker is visibly unfulfilled in his or her current position but won’t do anything about it.
- Impose a deadline or better yet let him or her publicly impose a deadline.
- Pick up the slack with the rest of the team and keep quiet.
- This individual will sink himself or herself. Otherwise, this individual will eventually have to get up and swim, explain their behavior, their performance and their results to upper management.
Case Study #3: The Rocket Scientist
The Rocket Scientist is the individual on the team that is full of knowledge but who is in search for recognition for his superior intellect and who demands an immense respect for his expertise.
The Rocket Scientist will feel insulted and will almost become passive aggressive if his or her ideas and point of view are being questioned.
- Avoid comparing his expertise to anyone on the team.
- Avoid diminishing his knowledge and ideas in front of the team or behind closed doors.
- Avoid criticizing his work and intellect.
- Instead, tap into his range of knowledge by placing him or her in the role of a counselor but not a decision maker.
Case Study #4: The Gossiper
The Gossiper is an individual that enjoys gossip, that emphasizes and embellishes a rumor.
The Gossiper is nosey and loves to keep the rumor mill spinning. This person is even capable of destroying someone’s reputation in the office.
- Listen to the rumor without adding any input. The information may not be malicious but indicative of office politics or of a situation that you can take advantage of.
- However, learn to separate useful information from the gossip.
- If this person only brings negative void information, crafted gossip, signal your disinterest by not responding or responding with monosyllables or challenging the facts in the story line, discreetly remove yourself from the circle, avoid participating in the rumor mill.
- Be careful not to offense this person, for they would drag your name in the mud. If this person is actually gossiping about you, avoid any interaction and adding fuel to fire by striking back with gossip before damaging your reputation.
- Confront this person in a non threatening and diplomatic way, in a private setting by stating that you are aware of the gossip and everyone is saying that she is a liar and the bearer of the negative information but you know that is not true.
Case Study #5: The Bulldozer
The Bulldozer is an individual that believes wrongly in his intelligence. The Bulldozer doesn’t hesitate to make everybody’s life miserable if things don’t go his way.
The Bulldozer threatens, bullies, intimidates, steps on toes and remains on the verge of harassment in order to get things his way. “It’s my way or the high way!”. The Bulldozer imposes his way of doing things even if it is not the best way of doing them.
They Make the worst managers ever but are the most common managers found in corporate.
- Cultivate your emotional intelligence in order not to respond to negativity with negativity.
- listen to this person point of view from beginning to end without uttering a word, then summarize their position and calmly expose yours.
Case Study #6: The Work-To-Rule
The Work-To-Rule discards any part of responsibility in a situation, does not understand tram work and does exactly what is stated in their contracts and no more.
In fact, the Work-To-Rule insists on not taking on more responsibilities than his or her job description.
- Stress the importance of team work and the value of this individual contribution at work.
Case Study #7: The Overly Friendly
The Overly Friendly is an individual that thinks that his coworkers are his extended family and that doesn’t mind sharing extra personal details of his or her life. These details will make you uncomfortable.
Explain that you don’t want to hear the gruesome details of his or her life.
If his or her behavior are too intimate, it can be considered as harassment and can be reported to human resources.
Case Study #8: The Naysayer
The Naysayer is an individual that irritatingly pinpoints everything negative in a situation and predicts problems before they happen, without proposing an alternative and constructive solution to the situation at hand.
Position that person in roles that require to see problems before they occur.
No need to argue and show the positive side of an idea.
To inhibit this behavior, request an explanation why the situation would not work and a thought-through plan for the solution
Case Study #9: The Blameshifter
The Blameshifter is an individual that points the finger at everyone else but themselves and that comes up with very creative excuses to completly remove the blame from themselves.
It is a form of narcissism: the Blameshifter is afraid of confronting themselves.
- Come prepared with evidence.
- If the blame is pointed at you and you know that it is not your fault, give proof of your innocence without accusing this individual.
- If this individual comes to you with an object of complaint on someone else, in order to avoid being put in the middle, claim that this is none of your business and suggest that they have a conversation with the alleged culprit.
Case Study #10: The Neophobe
The Neophobe is an individual that doesn’t deal well with change. The Neophobe is capable of refusing it, sabotaging it or even halting it.
- Demonstrate to him or her that change isn’t traumatic and can be positive.
- Provide proof and facts that the change eminent is positive.
- Help that person embrace change.
Case Study #11: The Chatterbox
The Chatterbox is an individual that drops by your workspace and starts chatting without solicitation about anything and everything. This individual does not necessarily partake in gossip, but volunteers to share their point of view.
This individual tends to makes you unproductive and inefficient.
- Avoid using words of exclamation or affirmation to not encourage this person to keep on talking.
- Avoid making eye contact when this person is passing through.
- Politely and respectfully explain that you are on schedule.
Case Study #12: The Martyr
The Martyr is a dedicated employee, willing to “die” for their company without being asked to do so, and that searches for recognition and validation.
For example, the Martyr does extra hours at work and manipulate the boss when someone else get a promotion.
- Show appreciation for this employee and value their work within the company.
Case Study #13: The Stealer
The Stealer constantly steals coworkers ideas, takes credit for them and denies it when confronted.
- Hold back on your ideas and opinions when having a conversation with this individual. Listen more than you speak.
- Avoid confronting this fool but bite your tongue instead because he or she might not know how to implement your ideas.
- Don’t report it to upper management before appearing to be salty.
Case Study #14: The Snake
The Snake is an overly ambitious — almost sociopathic — coworker that smiles to your face and that stabs you and everyone else in the back. The Snake will claim that your ideas are wonderful but will degrade them when you are not looking.
- Keep your personal information, brilliant ideas to yourself.
- Listen more than you speak.
- Stay socially engaged and involved in office politics.
Case Study #15: The Ultra Competitive
The Ultra Competitive is an individual that is prepared to step over your dead body to succeed or to get recognition in the workplace.
- Focus on your work or get involve in a project where the Ultra Competitive person is not involved in.
- Stay socially engaged with your other coworkers and keep networking.
- Consider the company culture, compare them to your values and figure out whether or not you fit in.
How do I deal with other difficult personalities?
Most coworkers use extreme tactics to get advancements in the workplace and would do anything to trigger you, to demean you or sabotage your own progress. Some take job positions where they do not belong and that they cannot handle. Others are misusing their strengths and transforming them into flaws that are not accepted in the environment they choose to work in. Others are even responding to an already toxic workplace. Lastly some coworkers are oblivious to their visible flaws and practise them outside of work.
In order to deal with other toxic coworkers:
- cultivate emotional intelligence,
- listen more than you speak,
- look for the positive or the humour in negative circumstances.
No matter the reasons, you have to learn how to insulate yourself emotionally and spot a hateful coworker from a distance.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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