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Who Is Toxic?

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  • Who Is Toxic?

    Just today, I had an encounter with a colleague that is just soooooo over the top annoying. So I went and did a web search on how to best handle this kind of person.

    And this is what I found out. My colleague is TOXIC according to this article: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/53...oundaries.html.

    The article stated:

    Moody defines a toxic colleague as one that:

    Stifles your talent and limits others' opportunities for advancement

    Twists circumstances and conversations to his or her benefit

    Chides or punishes others for mistakes rather than helping them make corrections

    Reminds co-workers constantly or publicly of a disappointing experience or unmet expectation

    Takes credit or avoids recognition for others' new ideas and extra efforts

    Focuses solely on meeting her or his goals, at the expense of others

    Fails to respect co-workers' needs for personal space and time.


    So I also did a LITTLE introspection. Am I toxic?

    Do you have a toxic co-worker? What did you do about it?

  • #2
    Reading through the article, it made me realise I might be an escalator. I could be somewhat toxic because I don't have the patience to keep repeating myself to a coworker. I will talk to you directly about the issues I have with you but if you keep doing the same mistakes, then I escalate to my supervisor so they can handle it. Does it make me a toxic person because I no longer want to keep going back and discussing the same issues with the same person?

    Comment


    • Bjun
      Bjun commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you. It made me think though if I am toxic in the eyes of the person that I was escalating. I've experienced coworkers who did not listen to my suggestions simply because we were on the same level. They needed to hear it from a supervisor before they would act and so, I talked to the supervisor. In the POV of this person, I might be toxic and see me as someone just out to get them.

    • mjmnl
      mjmnl commented
      Editing a comment
      Usually, these people that you've mentioned are so used in strictly following the hierarchical structure and that they only obey and listen to people who are higher than them. They give so much value to authority. Completely ignoring that there should still be mutual respect with those people in the same rank or even those who are lower than them. It's crazy. We don't need to change to total egalitarianism to start listening to each other's opinion. I mean, hey, being open is a basic trait in dealing with colleagues, right? Why can't they do it?
      Last edited by mjmnl; 08-19-2020, 08:26 AM.

    • Bjun
      Bjun commented
      Editing a comment
      mjmnl I agree. I guess they just got offended being called out especially by someone who is less senior than them, in terms of years worked in the company. You're right, it is good to always keep an open mind and respect other's opinions even if you do not agree with them.

  • #3
    I used to work with toxic co-workers years ago. I worked in a hotel and it gets busy during peak season. Everyone was so stressed and shouting matches were just normal sight to see. I learned to steer clear of heated situations and take everything with a grain of salt. Also, its best to learn how to communicate effectively and not let my emotions control me. I left after a few months when I realized that the work environment was too exhausting that I didn't get to enjoy my job anymore.
    Of course there really isn't a recipe on how to deal with them, it will depend on a lot of things. But I found this list and I think it sited some useful tips. https://www.payscale.com/career-news...ic-people-work
    Last edited by Kamille; 08-11-2020, 02:36 PM.

    Comment


    • Bjun
      Bjun commented
      Editing a comment
      Good tips. I like the 10th advice: "WHEN THE DAY IS DONE, GET THEM OUT OF YOUR HEAD". My cousin who works in bank said that she usually uses the drive home as the time to let go of the day's stress so she doesn't bring home any work-related toxicity to her family.

      With your experience, I can't help but think how toxic people in the workplace and the stress they bring affect not only our professional but personal life as well.

    • Kamille
      Kamille commented
      Editing a comment
      That's true Bjun. That few minutes of calming yourself before heading home is definitely essential. I can't help but think of an episode from How I Met Your Mother, "The Chain of Screaming". https://youtu.be/x2ANdDKzl2E It may come from a comedy show but I feel like there is some cold, hard truth in it. Although I didn't go home and scream at my nieces, I remember being so exhausted that I didn't want anyone to bother me. It lessen the time I spent with my family and work became something I need to endure rather than enjoy and love. My personal life was definitely affected and sending that resignation letter was an excellent decision.

    • Bjun
      Bjun commented
      Editing a comment
      Kamille Hahaha..the chain of screaming Barney described do happen IRL, not exactly like that but similar. I'm glad you've removed yourself from your source of stress and hope you have a better work environment.

  • #4
    I'm thinking 'toxic' can be entirely relative too. A difficult colleague might just be that..difficult. I have seen too many movies that depict the 'toxic' boss turning around with a 'good side'..probably true in real life too! Seriously, even the most difficult person has friends (think 'Monster House' by Disney Pixar) and often this 'toxic' person has limitations that lead to the narrow view and social experience.

    I've worked with a real-life, overtly combative, downright rude Site Director. Everybody saw him as 'toxic' and typically drive the people out of a room with just being there. We became real friends after a full year and two vertical promotions - he wasn't trying to be difficult..he was just narrow-minded, self-centered, and self-absorbed...attitudes that will never become fruitful when working with a team. Toxic? probably just for a few months. They have their silver-linings too.

    Comment


    • jcoppi29
      jcoppi29 commented
      Editing a comment
      I'd speculate then that toxicity varies when perceived because its direction also changes. For a bystander that doesn't get the bulk of one's toxicity, the toxicity means a less deal than those in the direct receiving end of it. It would be like beholding a phenomena that others describe as abrasive but it wouldn't feel so overwhelming or immersive because one's just in the environment.

      Being able to befriend the toxic person also leads to more understanding of the person himself/herself, then again, in some cases, it can also be that the passive role enables toxic types. They get away with it because no one does anything about it especially those that don't receive it directly anyway -- or it's a matter of looking after oné's back, politically maneuvering the atmosphere to be far from the crossfire.

      I noticed that a lot of toxic people get away with their toxic behavior because of the human potential for apathy really.

    • Skye
      Skye commented
      Editing a comment
      That is an interesting take on toxicity, jcoppi29. That apathy plays a big role in toxic behavior being overlooked. Because you are not the target of such toxicity.

    • Bjun
      Bjun commented
      Editing a comment
      Skye I agree with you. I was confused with the statement because the way the Site Director was described was someone toxic/difficult to work with. I wonder how someone who is narrow-minded, self-centered and self-absorbed would get to that position though.

  • #5
    I agree with you Skye. Considering that one is working with a team, one must also consider the team members. Just because you are higher in position than the other members does not necessarily mean you can be rude to them and treat them as non-equals.

    According to the article you mentioned, you can talk to the toxic person about what can be done to improve their problem. This is something I have done in the past and well, sad to say, nothing happened. A person that is passive, self-absorbed, and insecure, from my experience, has the tendency to not acknowledge his/her mistakes. Instead, he/she makes up excuses and even tries to point fingers to others, defensive as others may say.

    I also totally agree with this statement from the article, "Set boundaries for yourself with these toxic types of co-workers. It can help keep them from wasting your time, energy and resources. Set strict time limits for yourself in working on projects and expressing yourself to let toxic colleagues know where you stand." This is what I try to do. I don't want to waste my time trying to explain things to a toxic person whom I know is not willing to listen and does not want to acknowledge his/her mistakes.

    Comment


    • #6
      There will always be toxic people and toxic challenges in every work place. Best way is to just drown it/them out and keep focus on the work. Either it will fizzle out or upper management will take notice and correct or remove the toxic presence. It's more of learning to work and ignore toxic people or situations at the same time or as a last resort move. The latter sounds like a quick fix but like the saying goes, "Out of the frying pan and into the fire".

      Comment


      • Kamille
        Kamille commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree. Best to focus on work when working with toxic colleagues. I used to always remind myself that I am there to work, not make friends, and that its okay to have minimal interaction with them. That way, their negative behavior will not affect mine. Besides, life is too short to let toxic work colleagues suck the life out of us.
        Last edited by Kamille; 09-04-2020, 02:19 PM.

      • jcoppi29
        jcoppi29 commented
        Editing a comment
        I generally cope with toxicity by:

        1. Looking forward to post-work gaming (I play minecraft, apex legends, and other stuff)
        2. Looking back at a good gaming run
        3. Acknowledging that their toxicity is beyond my control
        4. Acknowledging and radically accepting that they're just ambient -- work output is paramount.

    • #7
      We could all be toxic ... well at one point or another we were... And sometimes, we think that a colleague is being toxic, not because of the action or behavior, but because we have already labelled the person as toxic, or because we do not like the person.

      I am reading the "Daily Stoics" , and I try to follow this particular stoic guide - "Don't make things harder than they need to be" . I find this helpful.... and I agree that maybe, just maybe, if we step back and think objectively, not all complaints are unreasonable. Not all tasks are overwhelming, and not all "toxic" behaviors are really toxic. Found an article relating to it online - https://dailystoic.com/workplace/#:~...task.%E2%80%9D
      Last edited by kdy; 08-14-2020, 05:56 PM.

      Comment


      • #8
        Toxicity is more rampant now that people are stuck at home working. This applies to those who are not used to being confined to working from home and miss going out.

        Comment


        • Skye
          Skye commented
          Editing a comment
          I know someone who seems to have that Napoleonic Complex. Hahaha... Must be covering up for something he lacks.

        • Gerhard
          Gerhard commented
          Editing a comment
          I know a lot of short people... most have issues... too much confidence to compensate for the height and hearing/knowing things last.

        • Skye
          Skye commented
          Editing a comment
          Now, now, @Gerhard... let's not go there.

      • #9
        I think, most times, people that are fast to judge others or see others as toxic are more likely to be the actual toxic ones compared to those that ask themselves or other people if they're toxic or not. It's kinda vague but it would make sense. People that introspect around the possibility of themselves being toxic and asking others about it are probably already in the process of detoxifying their behavior. Let's add the idea that human beings, by nature and tendency, notice flaws in others that directly reflect theirs. It takes a toxic person to clearly identify another toxic person -- this happens most of the time, to clarify, not all the time.

        It's just that, more often than not, the people quick to point fingers are also likely the people that have the traits they hate or dislike or label as "toxic". We hate the reflection of our mistakes as it manifests in other people -- present versions or past versions.

        As for me, I generally think I am still working on my toxicity though I used to be way worse (I was the sort that was paranoid, and assumed bad things are happening because of me -- yeet negative narcissism), so whenever I see others exhibit the same traits I did years back, I get a cringe feeling. But because of my point, some may misunderstand, that I'm turning tables on an absolute base. I am not.

        It's okay to point out someone else's toxicity and that is valid and testable. It's just that, most times, people that don't think they're toxic (and sure about it too) are actually toxic themselves and they're just identifying other toxic people, compared to those that wonder if they are or they were toxic at some point. Admitting one's flaws is an indication of steps being taken to deal with those, denying it or not even being open about the existence of such flaws just shows a lack of initiative on working on any, if there is indeed such.

        Comment


        • #10
          I agree with your examples of toxicity. I think when an environment, person, or group becomes limiting and discriminating, they could have toxic sides. However, it is difficult to determine the threshold of toxic for each person. It is still ultimately better to always try to be kind, establish good communication, and not sort to disrespect to enable different personalities while establishing good workplace camaraderie.

          Comment


          • #11
            It's easy to say someone is toxic especially when one is assertive and has the guts to point out your mistakes. It's true that self-evaluation is important. You should also be able to ask yourself, am I being objective? Am I being too personal? It pays to listen to other's ideas instead of just pushing back just because you have a different perspective of things. For me, what makes a person toxic is when one is so full of himself/herself that one doesn't even take the time to take into consideration other people's ideas just because she/he is trying to exert one's dominance over the members of the team.

            Comment


            • #12
              All these discussion of having toxic colleagues get me to think what if I am the toxic co-worker? Its a hard pill to swallow but self-realization is always the first step. At some point we all develop toxic behavior and we might not be aware of it. If you're reading through this thread and realized you display some of these behaviors, know that its never too late to change. https://www.theladders.com/career-ad...-the-toxic-one

              Comment


              • Kamille
                Kamille commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree Skye. I too would just let things slide just to avoid any further conflicts at work. A toxic co-worker may be fighting a silent battle we never knew about, or having a terrible day, and just blew it all over the workplace. Things like that I'd gladly let slide. Tomorrow is another day anyway. Who knows maybe tomorrow the toxic person at work would be me.

                But then, if its something that is a continuous behavior, jcoppi29 is right. There should be a consequence that will encourage a change in behavior. I guess we should all be a bit more observant and take the time to listen before we tag someone as toxic.
                Last edited by Kamille; 09-16-2020, 01:37 PM.

              • jcoppi29
                jcoppi29 commented
                Editing a comment
                @kamille

                As for silent battles, and being considerate and wary of such happening in silence, making it a precursor to being an object of displacement, I'd set limits. If it doesn't have limits, it would be as if shifting the narrative to a "that's just how i am" approach that erases any personal responsibility with one's issues, leading to inaction towards improvement.

              • Skye
                Skye commented
                Editing a comment
                jcoppi29, my limit would be as long as the job gets done. When it does not, oh believe me, I stand and speak up... and throw a tantrum. hahahahaha...

                Seriously, I keep score. So if the work does not get done, I am able to point out specifics. I may not talk much, but when I do, I wish that person a lot of luck. And I won't stop until I have emptied out. Like a dam breaking. That is my toxic trait. At least one of them.

            • #13

              Comment


              • JerryYan
                JerryYan commented
                Editing a comment
                These are some good signs to watch out for. Awareness and acceptance for change is definitely key. It could be helpful to spot some in our close colleagues too who may be on their way or could already be toxic so we can find better ways to approach their tendencies to project.
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