3 Ways To Handle The Most Negative Coworkers At Your Job

We all need to deal with them at some point.

toxic coworkers arguing New Africa / Shutterstock

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 one or two disruptive, toxic coworkers who choose to make their problems your problems.

Navigating a toxic work environment is important since that's where you spend at least a third of your waking hours. Being able to handle negative people at work is a priority because you may not have the power to fire that person.


Nor do you likely have the option to shout, "I quit!" and drive away forever.

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, that is, unless you figure out how to cope.

RELATED: 5 Damaging Effects Of A Toxic Work Environment On Your Body & Mind

What's actually behind your toxic coworkers' behavior

By discovering what's behind the negative behavior, you can create actions to move you toward a more positive work environment. The best thing is, it's within your control.


Here are 3 reasons a toxic 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 even as sarcasm.


But never give them the idea that their toxic behavior is acceptable.

3. Fear is driving this negative behavior. 

If they fear losing 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 may be having pressures at home, and feeling that they have limited options when money is scarce. In casual conversation, share stories of how you or someone you know is managing.

If they discover options that they can act on, then they may no longer feel trapped in the situation.

How to stop being the target or victim of a toxic person at work

It's important to know how to handle negative people 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 in to 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 with no room 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.

RELATED: I Left My Toxic Job & It's Time That You Do Too

1. 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.


Once you establish this self-worth within you, it's very hard to take it away. 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. 

2. Make them aware of their bad behavior.

When you question their bad behavior and bring it out in the open, it's no longer a secret. The power of a bully is that no one knows that they're doing it, and that you won't tell because you're embarrassed by the way this makes you look and feel.

Telling them that their words or actions are offensive or mean, and it's not appropriate, can have them reflecting upon themselves.

That new awareness has them question whether they're in alignment with how they want to be perceived by those who are important to them in their life.


3. Bring it to the employer's attention.

Trying to solve the conflict between the two of you is the first step. If that fails, then you need to bring your toxic coworkers to your employer's attention. 

Remain calm as you deliver the details of the issue, but also have a solution to the problem. It may be 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 comfortable and 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 may be to find another job


RELATED: Thinking About Quitting Your Job? 10 Ways To Know It’s Time To Leave 

Christine Hourd, ACC is a certified success and leadership coach from Calgary, Alberta. She works with professionals to remove obstacles and create strategies to reach their personal and professional goals. Book your first consult here.