Being in the same room with a person for a minimum of 8 hours per day makes the possibility of frictions inevitable. Negative behaviors may begin with a simple form of rudeness or aggression and lead to a passive aggressive everyday normality that slowly affects the individual’s mood and overall motivation.
Either if the passive aggressive behavior comes from the employer or from a co-worker with whom the individual closely shares everyday tasks, either from a superior colleague or from a simple employee that works in a different floor, the impact of such behaviors is extremely huge.
According to Fast Company, the cost of employees with passive-aggressive behavior cost the US economy over 37 billion in lost productivity each year. Aggressive behavior damages an organization at all levels affecting also employees who are not targeted but feel unsafe.
9+1 examples of toxic behavior in the workplace
Bullying, crossing the line of permissible gossip, not sharing responsibility and credits or simply eating the co-worker’s food from the company refrigerator are common examples of a toxic behavior among colleagues.
Let us take a look at different types of toxic people in the workplace:
- The passive-aggressive; Passive aggression is “a deliberate and masked way of expressing hidden anger”. The main types of such behaviors are sarcasm; silent treatment; withholding of praise; criticism; sabotage; unreliability; work slowdowns or even stoppage. Typical examples include missing deadlines, showing up late or procrastinating.
- The combative; This is the person who works against you behind your back or criticizes everything, sometimes threatening to permeate others work.
- The complainer; This co-worker who grumbles all the time. This kind of behavior can be the result of frustration, boredom, stress or being unhappy at work.
- The slacker; These people are often full of excuses for not completing their tasks and spend more time with excuses than they would have spent just doing the work.
- The gossiper: This person is always around your desk. He or she hovers in the lunchroom uncovering the latest gossips. The so-called gossiper is constantly trying to spread rumors.
- The disrespectful: Anyone can have a bad day, but there is a difference between having a bad day and being rude.
- The negative: This person constantly undermines the whole team by always being negative to new ideas and suggestions or refuse to undertake tasks, impeding the whole collaboration.
- The informer: This person is typically very close to the employer and gives reports on other employees’ behaviors, creating a stressful supervision culture.
- The insecure: This kind of employee typically reflects his/her own weaknesses on others by blaming them that they try to undermine them. This normally leads to envy behaviors.
- The bossy: This is usually the ‘loud’ supervisor that creates a fear culture, impeding true communication.
Note: Sometimes a colleague may be simply different to you, e.g. less or more detail-obsessed; slower or faster; less or more social than you; and these differences can be problematic to some extent, but they do not necessarily constitute toxic behaviors.
How to deal with toxic co-workers
Luckily, there are techniques for dealing with a variety of different negative behaviors. Conquering your own negative thinking is the simplest way to get the best from toxic colleagues. If the aforementioned negative behaviors are not affecting you or your team, it is best for you to ignore them. If they do affect you, undermining or sabotaging your workload, make sure that you handle them right by:
- Always thinking positive and being motivated
- Developing your managerial skills dealing with this difficult challenge
- Being a resilient person, always able to confront sabotage
- Creating a plan to handle negative behaviors
Of course, addressing aggressive behavior at work should be a task to be performed by the organization and not those victimized. Either organizational awareness is or it is not in place to identify such behaviors, you should train yourself and be prepared to:
- Recognize the signs of such behaviors;
- Not feeling like copying such behaviors;
- Give the person some time to work through these feelings;
- Help the person understand of why he/she is upset;
- Encourage the person to communicate directly.
Then you will be able to:
- Help the person improve his/her self-awareness;
- Identify what behaviors lead to negative behaviors;
- Discover tactics to eliminate negative behavior;
- Learn how to not to be controlled by passive aggressive behavior;
- Clarify what possibly negative behaviors you are triggering by yourself.