The workplace can be a difficult area to navigate outside of your daily duties. For one you are having to deal with a myriad of different personalities from the person who sits next to you to your boss who is a roller coaster of emotions.
Then there are the times where you’ll have to be in a group project while can also be quite difficult especially if there’s one person who clearly wants to take over and be a star student while there’s another who doesn’t want to do anything and reap all the rewards when all is said and done.
Signs of a toxic coworker
None of these though compare to the person who wreaks havoc on you and everyone around you. They spend their daily work lives doing things that never have a positive outcome and make you wish it was the end of the day when you just got there with your breakfast in tote. I am talking about the ever so present toxic co-worker.
Face it: some of you out there are the textbook definition of this type of employee. You may not know it, or do and deny it, but there are key signs attributed to the behavior that earns you this unglamorous honor.
They create a space that’s either not fun to be around or is repeatedly doing things that brings the rest of your staff down in the process.
Worst of all is that this person will claw their way to a promotion over you and you may not even know it. Ways that they do this range from manipulation to starting drama with others to even being a likable yet not suitable person for the job.
And yes, this person can still be that frustrating even in a virtual setting that many of us remain in due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tricks they have up their sleeve go beyond the physical presence, it’s just up to you to figure out what their work style is.
Here are 10 signs that point to you being the toxic coworker
Gossiping and trash talking. If you get the reputation of being the office gossip then you aren’t someone people will want to be around unless they enjoy engaging in this kind of behavior which is just as bad. Using the water cooler to discuss another employee’s personal or professional life in a negative manner (or in any manner really unless you get consent to do so) is never a good thing and something that should be off-limits during the 9-5 workday.
Um, don’t say that. Talking about things that aren’t office-neutral is generally a sign that you’re a toxic employee. If you bring up topics that will make your colleagues visibly squirm then the best thing to do is shut it down and move onto something they’ll enjoy talking to you about.
For example: discussing who you want to see win The Masked Singer or who your favorite singer of 2020 was… good! Anything political or controversial, especially in the climate we are currently in… bad. If this keeps persisting regardless then it could be a much bigger problem as one or many of them will head to the HR office with you on their brain.
You think there’s an “I” in team. What is your work style? And the Office Award goes to only them and not you. A toxic co-worker can be quick to grab all the glory by hogging the spotlight and pretending that the collaborative effort you all were apart of was primarily their influence. This type of person tarnishes every workplace win and turns it into a “me, me, me” kind of ordeal.
You complain just because. We all get annoyed at aspects of our job where complaining about things is the norm and perfectly acceptable. When you reach Debbie Downer level where everything is a problem and you are filling up your Slack chats with endless whining it can cause issues for the other employees who are trying to get their work done.
Venting for the moment = good. Spending all day talking about your hatred of your boss = toxic. Find the happy, or not so happy, medium.
Nothing is ever your fault. The words “guilty” and “I’m sorry” are never in the toxic employee’s dictionary. Even if they clearly did something wrong they will never take the blame. Perhaps it’s their stubborn nature that they have had with them most of their lives that bleed into the workplace but they are someone you should steer clear of if you ever happen to be in a group project together.
Let’s form an alliance. Yes, the office can be in Survivor or Big Brother mode depending on who you work with. Someone might want to act like a leader and bring others along with them in order to isolate a person or persons that they don’t like for whatever reason possible.
What they fail to realize is that in both situations it’s one person winning so your best bet would be to dodge them luring you in and only focus on what you need to get the job done.
You discriminate. Notice a boy’s club happening in your office space? Get the vibe that someone is treating you badly because of the color of your skin, sexual preference, or gender? Welcome to the toxic employee who discriminates without shouting out why they do.
Of all of the signs listed above, this is probably the worst and can be considered a major form of workplace bullying that is still rampant in the work world today.
Your self-absorbed behavior. Your narcissism is showing, insert name here. There’s a fine line between being proud of who you are versus acting like a total egomaniac and if you’re the latter at work then yep, you’re the toxic employee.
Everything from your discussing how great you look to how amazing your performance at work is to even things outside of the office like how in love you are with your significant other can be exhausting to listen to no matter how friendly or long your tolerance threshold is.
I know it all you and you don’t. They will convince you that the sky is red when you know darn well that it’s blue. Sure, this is the kind of person that’s sweet to your face and to the other employees on the same playing field but the minute you’re all involved with the management they become someone else.
An annoying know-it-all who only wants to hear their opinion and no one else’s. And if they do you can see the visible scoff on their face. This makes them virtually impossible to work with from a group task POV as they are clearly in it for themselves and no one else.
You throw anyone under the bus. They will do this either quickly or slowly but surely to take the heat off of them if something goes wrong. Bottom line: they don’t want the blame and will throw you under the bus in the process.
If you are at the receiving end of this then your best bet would be to confront them in a positive yet effective manner on why they are doing this while standing up for yourself.