Toxic Lifeforms That Lurk in the Office

There always seems to be that one person at work that you just can’t stand to deal with, let alone before you have grabbed at least 2 cups of coffee in the morning! They are toxic and cancerous to the office atmosphere seemingly seeking to destroy any ounce of hope and suck out all of the joy that you may have!

Believe it or not, there are ways to survive working with these characters, keep your sanity and still remain professional.

Keeping in mind that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, people will naturally influence the behaviour of those around them. When a conflict arises, does the behavioural reaction always have to be negative? Although it is sometimes easier and offers a more instant gratification, in the long run nothing changes. Regardless of the ‘difficult personality trait’ that you are dealing with, engaging them usually results in a dark cloud surrounding you and spreading though out the office.

In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie writes that, ‘Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do. But it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.’

What if you could change the outcome? Or better yet, didn’t even engage and prevented that negativity from flooding the office? Wouldn’t that be great?!?!

I had a few people contact me this week and last, asking the best way to deal with these people who spit venom. Obviously, the situations were all different however the emotional outcomes seem to be similar. Here are three things that I would suggest you try to do next time before going into combat and hanging the person by their toes from the ceiling over their cubicle!

Take care of yourself
When was the last time that you did something for yourself? As Recruiters, we spend all day trying to take care of everyone and make their lives a little easier but how do you take care of yourself? When was the last time you went to the gym and did a hardcore workout? How long has it been since you read a book, and actually finished it and it wasn’t work related? Walked the dog without your blackberry? Got a massage, pedicure or manicure? Get the idea?

Remember to ensure that stepping away from the office actually means exactly that sometimes. Quite often the location changes but you are still in the office mind set and have your computers and phones within arms reach. You need to shut everything off, take time for yourselves and take care of yourselves. If you don’t do it, who will?

Put things into perspective
Yes, I am the eternal optimist to the point where I could probably make you sick but, come on! It is all relative. So you have that one person you have to deal with day in and day out and they drive you absolutely crazy. You do realize that there are people out there right now who would do anything to be in your position, to be able to complain about that person at work would also mean that they were receiving a pay cheque.

‘I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.’ There are reasons these old sayings have survived and are still passed around. Sure it can be stressful and extremely trying but there is always someone out there that has it worse than you. Sometimes it helps to put things into perspective and to be thankful for what you have.

Recognise you are part of a team
No, not everyone gets along but, it makes it easier to do the job if everyone tries to though. Next time the conflict situation arises, stop and assess the situation. Instead of reacting and defending yourself, try to understand where this person is coming from. As difficult as it is, don’t jump to conclusions. Everyone has their own baggage that they bring to work and most of the time the behaviour displayed has nothing to do with work but is enough to set them off. Maybe they are on the verge of divorce, dealing with an ill child, who knows? It could be something as simple as no milk left for their cereal that morning. Maybe they just need a bit of compassion shown to them or someone to listen. A little empathy, a few kind words or a smile, sometimes these little things are enough to make the person stop and reflect upon their actions.

The reality of it all is that you can’t make people change, no matter how hard you try, you can only change yourself. Chances of that person getting transferred out of the country are probably slim to none, no matter how hard you wish. Complaining about it changes nothing, only dealing with it does. Take time for yourself, put things into perspective and try to make your team stronger.

How you let people affect you is totally up to you. Life is too short. Kill them with kindness. :-)

How do people affect you at work and what do you do to cope with it?

Views: 100

Comment by CJ Walker on August 12, 2010 at 11:59am
Really good article, Lea! Thank you!
Comment by Neil Costa on August 12, 2010 at 2:19pm
Did anyone else have the image of toxic people from the past flash before their eyes as they read this? Very nice post.
Comment by Lea McKay on August 12, 2010 at 3:58pm
Thanks so much for reading. Glad you enjoyed it.
Comment by Lea McKay on August 12, 2010 at 3:59pm
Thanks and I really hope that you don't have any nightmares now b/c of this!


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