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  • Christine Hourd

How To Handle Negative People Who Add To A Toxic Work Environment

Working with negative people isn't good for your health. This adds stress to your day, disrupts your productivity, changes your mood, and if you bring it home, that spreads to your family like a virus. All because of a couple of negative people who choose to make their problems your problems.

Eliminating a toxic work environment is important since that's where you spend at least a third of your waking hours. So being able to handle the negative people at work is a priority because you may not have the power to fire that person. Nor have the option to shout, "I quit!"

Have you ever been told, "the grass isn't greener on the other side?" This is telling you that no matter where you go, you're going to be confronted with the same problem, unless you figure out how to deal with it.


The Negative Behaviour Of Those Who Add to a Toxic Work Environment


By discovering what's behind the negative behaviour, we can create actions to move you towards a more positive work environment. The best thing is—it's in your control. Here are 3 reasons your coworker might be negative and how to make them more enjoyable to work with:

1. Being negative is normal for them. They may have grown up in a negative environment and that's what they're used to. When your coworker says something negative, counter it with something positive. Soon they'll be more aware of what they say in front of you. It's like correcting a habitual response.

2. Their outlook on life is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. If they lash out at others or bully others, then they're not happy about themselves. They're comparing themselves to others and don't like what they see. In a moment when they're being reasonable, compliment them on what they did that was positive or successful. Make it honest and authentic otherwise they'll take it as patronizing, or that you're making fun of them. But never give them the idea that their toxic behaviour is acceptable.

3. Fear is driving this negative behaviour. If they fear loosing their job, they may, in order to keep their job, try to bring others down to make themselves look more valuable. Compassion is needed since they maybe having pressures at home, and feeling that they have limited options when money is scarce. Share stories of how you or someone you know is managing. If they know there are options that they can act on, then they may no longer feel trapped in the situation.

How To Stop Being The Victim Of A Toxic Person

It's important to know how to handle negative behaviour at work, but what happens when you're already the target or victim of this person?

You can't let the antics of others control your feelings and dictate your self-worth.

If you give into the bullies of the world and allow them to control your emotions, then they'll continue to use you as a punching bag because you make them feel in control. The workplace should be a safe environment and never allow for bullying. Although if there is an instance where you feel it's gone too far, here are three strategies you can use to end it:

Change Your Mindset About Your Value

By knowing your value and what you contribute to the world, you create in your mind a sense of worth. This is one thing that a bully doesn't want you to have and can never take away from you. But you have to believe this is true and be confident in what you bring to the table. As this person sees that their antics no longer bother you they will give up.


Make Them Aware Of Their Bad Behaviour

When you question their bad behaviour and bring it out in the open, it's no longer a secret. Telling them that their words or actions are offensive or mean, and it's not appropriate has them reflecting upon themselves. That new awareness has them question whether they're in alignment with how they want to be perceived.

Bring It to the Employer's Attention

Trying to solve the conflict between the two of you is the first step, although if that fails you need to bring it to your employer's attention. Remain calm as you deliver the details of the issue, but also have a solution to the problem. It maybe changing locations, departments, or having the employer as the mediator while you work this out with the other employee.

Make sure work issues stay at work, since home is your safe place. The place to feel comfort and be secure with your family and pets. If you're bringing the problems from work home for your family to deal with, then that's when you need to reach out for extra help. And that help maybe to find another job.


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Christine Hourd, ACC is a certified success and leadership life coach in Calgary, Alberta. She works with clients to manage conflict in their life and create strategies to reach their personal and professional goals. Talk to Christine and find out how the Success Mastery Program can help you reach your goals.

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