Ways to Deal With Bad Co-Workers When You Know You Can't Quit

Nancy Anderson
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Countless individuals dread going to work each day because of one or more bad co-workers. That's not surprising, since a toxic co-worker can leave you feeling stressed, drained and unmotivated, which can make it difficult for you to thrive in your career. If you regularly deal with bad co-workers and can't quit your job, these five tips may help.

1. Don't Take the Behavior Personally

If you're having a hard time fostering a decent relationship with a bad co-worker, you're likely not alone. Toxic individuals usually have difficult relationships with many people in their lives, including long-time associates and family members. Don't take their behavior personally. Continue to perform to the best of your abilities, and never allow a toxic colleague to make you feel inadequate or unworthy of your position.

2. Never Entertain Drama

It's tempting to lend your ear to office drama, but you must resist that temptation at all costs, especially if the source of the information is a bad co-worker. Toxic co-workers usually thrive on negativity. They can't wait to tell others if the boss made a mistake or if someone just got fired. They might even try to grab your attention by speaking of something positive, such as a departmental raise, but don't be fooled, as positive news can quickly turn into gossip when you're dealing with a toxic worker. Make it clear that you're not interested in hearing any information that's not directly related to the task at hand.

3. Physically Avoid Them

Do your best to create a physical distance between you and your toxic colleague. For example, if your colleague eats lunch in the break room each day from 1 to 2 p.m., avoid the break room during that time. Sit as far away from this person as possible during office meetings, and if you see him waiting for the elevator, take the stairs. If you must sit within close proximity to a bad co-worker, rearrange your desk so it's facing a window or wall. The less contact you have with a toxic person, the better.

4. Communicate Important Concerns

Even with one or more bad colleagues, your team can still be productive and effective. Therefore, don't be afraid to communicate any work-related concerns. If the bad co-worker never submits tasks on time, is often late to team meetings or submits sloppy work, let him know that this is unacceptable. While you might be willing to put up with your toxic colleague's scowling face and snarky remarks, you can't ignore actions that hinder the performance of your entire team. If the behavior doesn't change, speak to your boss or someone in human resources.

5. Remain Positive and Kind

Never allow your toxic co-worker's behavior to make you angry. Even if you can't stand this person, try to be pleasant when working with him. Compliment the worker when he does a great job and thank him for his assistance with various projects. If this person is short with you or says something offensive, simply ignore him.

Don't let bad co-workers turn the job of your dreams into a nightmare. If you can't quit your job right away or transfer to another department, these five tips can help you get through each workday without losing your sanity.

Photo courtesy of Latoya at Flickr.com


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Olivia C thanks for your comments. So sorry that it came down to that. You have to stand up to the bullies. You are strong enough. Bullies only act like that because they think they can get away with it. If you stand up to them, they go away. I am taking it that the bullying happened at work? Did you report it? You have to report it. Have to get it investigated and, hopefully, have the bullies removed. It will never stop if we don't stand up to it now.

  • Olivia C.
    Olivia C.

    I dont see how it got this far i was almost loosing my home al because of there bullied.o

  • Olivia C.
    Olivia C.

    I lost motivqtion when i notice everyone was against me. I wss not strong enough so i just stoped trying

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Brenda C. it really is a shame when a company lets the good ones go and keeps the bad ones. But, you have to know that, sooner or later, she will get her comeuppance. It truly does happen. You are better to be out of there - away from someone who would not have your back if it came down to it. Also, if you feel that you were wrongfully terminated, you should hire an employment specialist and start a lawsuit against the county. It's possible that the lawsuit would wake them up to what is happening before something dire occurs.

  • Gregory S.
    Gregory S.

    Yes, you are 100% correct. Our laws protect the bullies.

  • Brenda C.
    Brenda C.

    I worked in a very toxic situation for two years with an older woman that was not qualified for the position which put me in a very dangerous situation as we worked as armed security officers in a county court house. The supervisor for the company we worked for never came to see that she was not qualified and never answered the emails that I sent him since I was not allowed to call but she was. I was working there for 2 years before they hired her. She was an embarrassment, never followed the post orders and got away with it. She was late for work everyday. She could not qualify at the shooting range, scary that I was working with someone that could not back me up if a situation arose. I was terminated after 4years for no reason, yet they kept her even though she was not qualified. She was what they call a professional Brown Noser!!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Selena R thanks for your comment. If it were me, I would be looking for a new job. You can't work in a toxic environment like that for very long. The stress alone is enough to cause health issues. Get out! Those annoying bosses will outlast you. They always do.

  • Selena R.
    Selena R.

    What About Annoying Bosses Who Are Up To No Good They Look For Excuses To Fire Us And Got Us Walking On Thin Egg Shells Upon Every Lying Mouth Of Difficult Customers.

  • Teresa M.
    Teresa M.

    This was a great article and so needed.

  • Calette Lee
    Calette Lee

    This is good advice for us who have ignorant Co-workers. For all of us who go out of our way to be peace makers, it's really hard to have a good day at work.

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