Working with Toxic Coworkers

Toxic Coworkers

Working with negative or annoying people can create a toxic work environment.  We spend so much of our time at work that it can be hard to ignore toxic coworkers.  Toxic coworkers come in many forms.

The Constant Complaining Coworker

The Constant Complainer is never satisfied with anything that happens at work, and likely never satisfied in their personal life. Don’t take it personal if this person never recognizes your efforts to please them.  Hopefully this does not describe your boss.

The Gossipy Coworker

The Gossiper is always telling someone else’s business.  Oftentimes this person will make up lies just to appear that they know everything that is going on in other employees’ lives. Some people use gossiping as a way of connecting to others.  They don’t realize that, even if others are listening to them, they are not encouraged to confide in this person because they are not trustworthy. No matter how much you enjoy this person’s company, never tell this person your personal business.

The Rebellious Coworker

The Rebel plays the role of Devil’s Advocate, all the time. This person attacks every new idea that anyone else pitches. Oftentimes this happens out of fear of change or fear of someone else taking his place. Don’t take it personal.  Expect the Rebel to object to your ideas and prepare a rebuttal.  Use your experience with this person as a reminder to ensure that your idea is fully thought-out before you present it.

The Tardy Coworker

Johnny Come Lately: This person is always late with their work, never completes their portion of a team project and, if they do, it may need to be redone.  This person is even late to work on a regular basis, yet has no idea why his manager is always on his case.

The Know It All Coworker

Mr Know-It-All wants to be viewed as the smartest person in the room, at all times. He is a great talker, an excellent self-promoter and a superb con-artist.  He is also a horrible listener.  Why would he need to listen to anyone else if he already knows everything?  Don’t let this person take credit for your work or ideas.  Document everything when dealing with him.  Never bring an idea to him when no one else is around.

The Pushover

The Door Mat allows others to walk all over her.  She often gets inundated with extra work that she allowed herself to get talked into doing. Gently encourage her to stand up for herself. Otherwise, steer clear so you don’t get sucked in to her extra work.

The Bossy Coworker

The Dictator believes that because she has been with the company for a while she has authority over everyone else, even though she is not a manager.  She demands that everyone do things her way because she has been doing it that way for the past 10 years. She fails to realize that the newer employees have been exposed to various approaches and tools that can streamline their archaic processes.

Teacher’s Pet Coworker

The Teacher’s Pet has a stronger desire to please the manager than the average employee.  She is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, which usually is a good thing when the intentions are to improve skills or to help the team.  However, oftentimes the real intention is to establish herself as the favored one at the expense of others.  Be cautious of this person because you never know where her limits are.  She may be so focused on pleasing the manager that she acts as a spy for him by telling him everything that happens when he is not around.

As a Career Coach, I advise my clients to be mindful of the personalities within their department and on any cross-functional teams.  You are very likely to find at least 2 of these characters lurking around your workplace, but they are only harmful if you allow them to be.




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