How To Deal with Toxic Coworkers When You Work From Home

Toxic people are easy to find. Maybe it’s a member of your family, maybe one of your close friends (why do you still hang out with that loser anyway?!), or perhaps an annoying colleague who drives you crazy every once in a while. But an undeniable fact is that you’ll always come across toxic people – even when you’re working remotely. And since friends come and go, and you can’t get rid of your relatives, the problem you should solve now is how to deal with toxic coworkers when you work from home. 

A toxic coworker is someone whose behavior constantly harms a company’s people, property, and sometimes even reputation. A toxic worker can hurt their colleagues’ productivity and self-confidence, damaging an entire work environment. According to a Fierce Inc. report, four out of five employees have crossed paths with toxic colleagues or currently work with them. And it’s no surprise. Disrespectful behavior is everywhere. You need to learn how to cope with it. 

You may have thought that by working from home you’ll get rid of these negative people. But remote work requires as much communication and collaboration between team members as any other job – and sometimes even more. 

Knowing how to deal with toxic coworkers will help you avoid their hostile intentions and achieve better results and relationships at work. So, grab a pen and paper (or open your computer note-taking app) and start writing down different ways to deal with toxic coworkers.

How To Identify a Toxic Coworker

Toxic workers invade workspaces with mistreatment, lack of respect, and sometimes even abusive ways. These people are specialists in creating unnecessary tense or hostile moments, decreasing trust within colleagues. You should always coworker this kind of coworkers; there are also several ways to identify them. 

The Gossiper

This toxic coworker is among the worst since you cannot easily recognize their evil intentions. As I told you before, you can find gossip everywhere you go, and in workplaces, gossipers are all around the place. 

Gossips harm much more than you can imagine. So, it’s always better to stay away from tittle-tattle; and from those who want to spread it. 

How to identify remote gossipers? Look for those who’re all day chatting about non-work conversations. Those that ping you every five minutes to ask you personal questions. And especially those who talk to you about other colleagues’ stuff.

The Invisible

Do you have that kind of coworker who is never around?  Whether it’s the lousy wifi, the medical studies, or the dog feeling sick, they always seem to have a problem. Well, that’s the kind of toxic worker you can call invisible. 

It’s not that their absence can harm you. But these people’s little will and predisposition to work will eventually damage the team as a whole. When someone isn’t fulfilling their role, every member of the team falls behind with their projects. And over time, this becomes a toxic way of acting since they expect their colleagues to work for them. 

How to find them? Search for that colleague who always responds with: “Yes, but…”

Spotted! Coworker Trying to Take Over My Work

It’s not a problem to be an intelligent person full of knowledge. The problem start’s when someone who knows a lot is always trying to make others feel less intelligent or less valuable for not knowing certain things. 

Working together on projects, having a conversation, or a virtual meeting. Or even trying to agree on new ideas can become irritating when you must do it besides a know-it-all coworker. A tip? Pretend to listen to what they have to say and forgetting about it the second you’re out. Don’t take their manners personally; they behave this way with everybody else too. 

It’s easy to recognize them. Those who are always giving orders and talking about facts nobody knows to call the attention. Toxic “busy” coworkers always take over things they don’t even have the time to do. So, try taking some stuff from their plate when you’re dealing with them – and if you can.

The “I don’t have time” Coworker

These toxic coworkers are as annoying in life as they are at work. What’s so negative about these people is that they’re always trying to make you feel as if your job is easy and allows you a lot of free time compared to them. 

“You have no idea how overwhelmed I am.” “I’ve been working all weekend.” “I have no free time.” Those are some of the quotes you’ll hear coming from them. Always complaining about things they’ve decided to carry. 

The Complainer

There’s always that annoying partner who complains about everything. “I’m so late with my task,”; “You have no idea how full I am,”; “I’m overwhelmed, I cannot do it” are some of the classic quotes you’ll hear them say. 

It’s not easy to deal with these kinds of coworkers because once you’ve realized their complaints are daily, you won’t be able to tolerate them. But keep your patience. There are some ways to deal with these. 

Stay focused. If you know these people moan about everything, then ignore their complaints. Pretend you haven’t heard them, nod as if you were listening, and never – never! – follow this conversation. It’s better to stay out of this type of talk since otherwise, it’ll give them the space to complain every time they talk to you. 

7 Ways to Deal with Toxic Remote Coworkers 

It only takes a single toxic colleague to tense and damage an entire remote work atmosphere. But there are several ways to cope with them that don’t involve a fight or a discussion. How to deal with a coworker that undermines you? How to deal with rude coworkers? How to avoid coworkers gossiping about you? Let’s find out!

1. Show Your Positive Intentions

Error is human. If you’re willing to solve the problem your toxic colleague caused, then go for the one thing humans always do: talk. 

When a colleague doesn’t behave according to the team’s expectations, it’s easy to fall into a litany of complaints and negative comments. But you never know what your coworker’s intentions were. So the one thing you can do is to show your good intentions and willingness to talk. 

Communication can be much more powerful than you’ve ever imagined. Sometimes, a simple conversation can solve many problems. Have you ever spent months with a problem unsolved eating away at your mind, and suddenly when you decide to talk it through, you solve it in a matter of seconds? 

The same can happen with toxic coworkers. Facing them through a calm and sincere conversation can help you improve your entire relationship. During the discussion, stay serene and honest. Be careful when you mention whose “blame” is the problem since you can rapidly hurt your colleague’s feelings. And remember, never yell at them. 

2. Set Your Priorities

The truth is you can’t control other people’s behaviors. If once you’ve tried having a conversation with your colleague, they still act negatively, then avoid trying to tell them what’s good for their career and professional life. It’ll be a waste of time. 

If you want to become more productive, focus on your tasks, and stay away from those who distract you from your priorities. Working from home, you have the advantage of deleting from your sight whoever you want. In a remote environment, you can choose with who to interact and with who to stay away. If you’re trying to bond with your teammates, prioritize those who have good intentions. You can ping them through your communication channel to have off-work conversations or even propose a no-work virtual meeting to laugh once in a while. 

Once you’ve set your goals and priorities, you’ll realize it’s easier to stay away from toxic coworkers. Try to be willing and cheerful to avoid minor interruptions from ruining your whole day. Keep this in mind every day when you open your laptop first thing in the morning. Remember, you can’t control what life throws at you, but you can control how you react to it. 

3. Avoid the Gossip

We’ve all fallen into gossip at some point in our lives. It’s difficult to control our emotions when we’re angry, frustrated, or disappointed at someone. 

Though criticizing others can be tempting when you’re angry, it’s better if you stay away from it. Gossiping with other colleagues about your coworker’s evil intentions makes you as toxic as they are. Think about it this way. What’s the good in talking bad stuff about other people’s horrible stuff? You’re just repeating their mistakes! 

Gossip always brings terrible consequences, and in work environments, these can become irreparable. Avoid dividing your team with different arguments and complaints. As I mentioned before, talking is always better to solve problems – but be careful with who you talk to! 

4. Don’t Take Everything Too Personally 

There’s always that coworker who wakes up with the wrong foot and rejects every idea you propose. Some people constantly put things down on others when they don’t mean to. Some may even try to make you look bad in front of your teammates. Whether they feel insecure or doubt your criteria, they always make you feel as if what you say isn’t clever enough. And the bad news is, you’ll always have to deal with those situations.

Sometimes you have a colleague devaluing you and questioning everything you say before you’ve finished explaining your idea. And the worst is you’ll probably start doubting yourself. But don’t let a toxic coworker’s comments harm you. 

When explaining new ideas, learn how to differentiate a toxic comment from a simple suggestion a teammate may make. Once they throw the first bullet, start asking questions. Most people choose confrontation in these situations, but questioning the toxic person’s disapproval will help you understand their reasons. 

Try to ask them how to improve the project, what specific areas they dislike. Thoughtful questions can help you create a dynamic conversation where several colleagues participate and exchange ideas. 

5. Embrace  Your Achievements

Has someone ever received credits for a project that was yours? Well, the answer must be yes. That’s because you’re reading this article!

Some people hate calling attention to themselves, and when they achieve great results at work, they don’t focus on making sure everyone knows whose credit is it. But toxic coworkers often take advantage of these situations and – without a second thought – take credits for those projects where you gave a 95%, and they only gave a 5%. 

Sometimes, working remotely, you’ll feel off sight and forgotten. But that’s no reason for others to steal what you’ve worked to achieve. To avoid this, it’s time you start to stand in the spotlight. Even though it can be embarrassing, it’s better to prove your results than to lose the credit for projects that made you sweat. 

It can be uncomfortable to brag about your accomplishments, but these are your achievements; you’ve earned them. Virtual team meetings are great for this type of conversation since the whole team is listening to you. Remember, if you don’t speak for yourself, no one will. 

6. Ask Your Boss for Help/Advice

Toxic coworkers bring different problems to the table, and unfortunately, some aren’t for you to solve.

You may feel awkward and scandalmonger, but once you can’t control a situation anymore, you need to notify your boss. Going to your boss will help you solve the problem with someone’s support, and in some cases, even understand the situation better. 

How to Talk to Your Boss about a Toxic Coworker?

For example, imagine you’re having trouble with a colleague that’s not delivering their tasks on time and delays every project. Since you can’t stand it any longer, you bring the situation to your boss’s attention. He tells you that your colleague is going through a challenging health situation. If you hadn’t gone to your boss, you would have never known that your colleague was behaving inefficiently for personal reasons.

As I mentioned before, most of the time, talking is the best way to solve problems. But since this isn’t possible for everyone, if you decide to go to your boss, keep in mind your priorities. Always talk professionally to avoid behaving like an angry teenager, and suggest ideas. A frank talk with your boss can better solve a toxic relationship – only if this one notices you’re coming to the table in good faith.

7. Prioritize Yourself

Don’t allow your work to take over your personal life. Your mental health is your top priority – and should always be. So, give work and colleagues the importance they deserve, but don’t let it consume you. 

If one – or more – coworker is affecting you in a way your well-being is decreasing, it’s time for you to stop. Never sacrifice your well-being when it comes to these types of situations. If things become unbearable between you and your toxic coworker, you can always file a complaint with your HR team or leave your job and find a new one. 

None of these decisions is easy to make. If you’re too exhausted to deal with your colleague, boss, or teammates, the HR department should always be willing to help you solve your problems; it’s within your rights. If you think the whole team became toxic and you’re feeling uncomfortable, maybe it’s time for you to make a drastic decision, like going for another job or searching for other options. Always decide what’s good for your health. 

Learn more: Self Care Tips for Remote Work

Time to Say Goodbye to Toxic and Negative Coworkers

Toxic people are everywhere. And unfortunately, you’ll always have to deal with people who don’t have good intentions or carry negative vibes everywhere they go. But there’s always something you can do about it. 

Once you spot your toxic coworker, try to talk. Talking things through calmly and politely could help you solve most of the problems. If this doesn’t work, it’ll be time to take charge and solve some other way, like talking to your boss or presenting an official report to your HR team. But remember, if you prove your intentions are the right ones, all good things will come out of this. 

Work is something you should enjoy doing every day. So stop complaining and take these steps to deal with your remote toxic coworkers! 

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