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How to protect yourself from a toxic co-worker

Tanvi Arora
21 Oct 2022
6 min read
How to protect yourself from a toxic co-worker

It’s a misfortune to be acquainted with one, but it’s not unheard of. Office spaces are home to some of the most toxic co-workers or employers that a person can ever meet, and handling them is an everyday task. It can be terrible since a toxic co-worker can drain the energy out of you, make you feel miserable at work and affect your productivity.

Most often, you won’t know how to respond to such people. You won’t know what steps to take, keeping them in consideration, especially if they’re in your team. You won’t know what to do when they say something very rude to you. If you’re working with someone who is toxic and is making your office life hell, then you will need to be equipped to deal with them in the best way possible.

Here is how you can protect yourself from a toxic co-worker.

1. Do not take it personally

Our first instinct when someone says something rude to us is to retaliate. We retaliate and get defensive when we’ve taken what they’ve said personally or to heart. The words they say can make you feel low for hours and can be a big blow to your self-esteem.

To prevent their words from making such a big impact, imagine if you draw a boundary between them and yourself. Don’t let anything they say affect you personally.

2. You are greater than this

If they are displaying an attitude toward you that is belittling your efforts, constantly being condescending, and making snappy and rude remarks, you must understand that you are bigger than all of this.

You’re exposed to this kind of behavior on an everyday basis, so obviously, it’s not you. They don’t stop in their efforts to make you feel miserable so it’s them. And if the problem is them, there’s nothing wrong with the way you perform or are. Therefore, since you’re greater than all of this, you need to keep in mind that they just want a fight. Do not give them what they want. Rise above it.

3. Detach and disengage

Create a mental block for people at your workplace who won’t give you a chance or people who are belittling you. Detach yourself emotionally and converse with them just as much as you should. Keep boundaries and reduce the number of interactions that you have with them.

Tune them out because they aren’t going to change. And it isn’t your job to change them or even attempt to. Observe them like you would observe an animal and keep your distance

4. It’s not only you

If there is someone at work who makes working at your office a living hell, then you need to keep in mind that they’re not just mean to you. They are mean to a lot of people around you at the workplace and are invariably making it a lot harder for others as well.

This is not because you want others to suffer as well, but knowing that will help you to not blame yourself for their rude comments and trashy behavior. It’s not you, but them who are the problem and a lot more people will agree with you here.

5. This is not forever

Never give yourself a reason such as a rude co-worker to quit your job. Instead, you need to understand that this isn’t permanent and that it’s a temporary situation. Try and move departments or teams, and try to find other fixes within the same organization for as much as you can, before trying to look for different jobs.

But, sometimes, one needs to understand that protecting yourself from a rude co-worker doesn’t just work with fixing your mental psyche and making yourself emotionally stronger. It isn’t about just what you can do within an organizational setup in order to deal with rude colleagues.

Yes, it is important to have a strong mental psyche and a good positive attitude, which can help one feel more positive and happy at their workplace. This can boost productivity.

Sometimes, you will have to up and leave because there really isn’t any other choice. You must never compromise your mental health for reasons such as this, and if none of these things works, go speak to your HR or change jobs.

Tanvi Arora

Tanvi is a Business Development Executive at Calibr. While primarily occupied with building our outbound sales funnel, she also enjoys writing about eLearning trends in the corporate world.