How to Deal With a Toxic Boss & Coworkers
At some point in your career, you will likely have to deal with a toxic boss or co-worker. These individuals make it difficult to perform your job to the best of your ability. They can also cause you to suffer from low self-esteem and will do everything in their power to belittle you while you are trying to do your job. Instead of encouraging you, they spend the majority of their time finding fault. You can either find another job or learn to cope with the toxic behavior.
Maintain a professional relationship with your boss. A toxic boss will often cross the line and share too much about her personal life. She may say inappropriate things or make implications of sexual favors for promotions. This behavior can make anyone uncomfortable. Maintain your distance and set boundaries. Don’t have drinks with her or socialize after work. Don't encourage her -- she may move on to someone else.
Go above and beyond the call of duty. Copy your boss on every email, update her on your progress on every aspect of your job and make her feel like she always has control if she feels the need to micromanage your every move. In reality, you will be the one in control, but you will make her feel like you are answering to her.
Stay away from office politics -- those who take part in office politics will try to compete with you for recognition, management attention and advancement opportunities. These types of co-workers spend little time on current responsibilities; instead, they try to find ways to get the boss's attention to move ahead. Maintain your professionalism, as they will do this at your expense by name calling and pointing out your every flaw.
Avoid gossip and don’t disclose anything about yourself that you do not want others to know. Toxic co-workers like to spread rumors and will also use everything you say against you. Learn to keep your thoughts to yourself, and keep all of your work conversations professional.
Stand up for yourself. Confront the person politely and let her know how you feel if you constantly feel you are being bullied or mistreated. Report the behavior to a member of upper management or your human resources department.
Limit your contact with hostile workers as much as possible. Concentrate on your own job and what you need to get done each day. Speak only when spoken to, and limit conversations as much as possible. Don’t be rude, but don’t go out of your way to be friendly either.
Document each wrongdoing. Make a list of each event and explain exactly what happened and when. Present this list to your supervisor or upper management when you feel you have adequate information to prove the hostile behavior.
Take legal action if the hostile behavior goes against workplace laws, including discrimination laws. According to Bloomberg Business Week, there is a growing movement against bullying in the early 21st century workplace. If you have kept excellent documentation about the events, it will help your case in court. Contact an attorney who is experienced with workplace discrimination.
Based in Atlanta, Melody Dawn has been writing business articles and blogs since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and "USA Today." She is also skilled in writing product descriptions and marketing materials. Dawn holds a Master of Business from Brenau University.