Self

9 Ways To Deal With A Toxic Coworker Who Is Out To Get You

Photo: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock
two women side-eyeing one another at work

Navigating the politics of the workplace can be daunting. Connecting with colleagues you can trust in your work life is important to how you show up.

There is nothing worse ending up in an ongoing conflict with a coworker, especially if they would do anything to see you gone. This negativity can create a stressful environment where you can’t do your best work, which could have a negative impact on your career and your bottom line.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Handle The Most Negative Coworkers At Your Job

Throughout your career, you will work with some people seamlessly. There will also be moments where you and a particular coworker just don’t see eye-to-eye.

But what do you do when the relationship has become toxic, and your coworker is out to get you? The first step is to recognize the signs.

5 Signs Your Coworker is Trying to Get You Fired

Before you can start to deal with a situation where a toxic coworker is trying to get you fired, you must first make sure they are, in fact, trying to oust you.

1. They talk around you instead of to you.

Collaborating at work requires the ability to work with people from different races, cultures, and backgrounds. You have to be able to communicate in order to do your best work.

If you find that a colleague is telling everyone but you about their issue with you, they do not have your best interests at heart.

2. They have shared your personal business with others.

One of the biggest life lessons you can learn is that, generally, coworkers are not your friends. Now, there are special situations where a real authentic friendship can be built, but those are rare.

Everyone has personal challenges that can impact them at work from time to time. The workplace is not your sounding board for all of your personal business.

Your most intimate life details should be reserved for people you know and love with a history of loyalty and confidentiality. If your work “friend” has shared private information of yours with the rest of the team, they are detrimental to your job.

3. They’re too busy watching you to do their own job.

Who hasn’t had that coworker that spent most of their time at work firmly planted in everybody else’s business? If you haven’t, you might be the nosy coworker.

A telltale sign that someone is trying to get you terminated from your job is their constant scrutiny. Anyone who is more concerned with you than doing their best work shouldn’t be trusted.

4. They try to sabotage your work.

There are many ways to sabotage a coworker. Most people aren’t courageous enough to let others know they don’t want them to succeed.

Instead, they do passive-aggressive things like withhold pertinent information from you or give you the wrong information on purpose. If that is happening, it’s no accident.

5. They are willing to throw you under the bus.

Ideally, team members and coworkers have each other’s backs and are supportive. Realistically, there are times when that is not what happens.

If your coworker is always running to human resources instead of giving you the opportunity to address minor issues, they may be intent on getting you fired.

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

How to Deal with a Coworker Who is Out to Get You

Now that you have confirmed your coworker could have a vendetta against you, using your conflict resolution skills and practicing patience is imperative.

1. Talk it out.

If it is appropriate to do so, meaning you and your colleague are still cordial and able to stand the sight of one another, try talking to them.

Sometimes issues are based purely on assumption, and the awkwardness or intentions you perceived from them may not be real. On the other hand, it might be spot on.

Either way, see if you two can have a respectful, transparent conversation. Maybe you can find common ground.

2. Listen and remain calm.

It can be hard to stand there when someone is being unreasonable or unprofessional. Even if you don’t agree, everyone should be allowed to express themselves if done respectfully.

Listen to understand, and consider whether or not there is any truth to what they are saying. Even if there isn’t, stay in a place of peace and calm while standing your ground.

3. Walk away.

Sometimes, you get to the point where you have listened to as much nonsense and no longer want to participate. And that’s okay. If you’re not feeling good about the conversation, walk away.

Of course, there are respectful ways to walk away when necessary. But if a coworker has reached a point of disrespect or violence, you have lost control of the situation and should walk away.

4. Keep your distance.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that’s probably not the case when dealing with a toxic coworker. Sometimes it’s best to just keep distance between you and them.

Staying away can mean changing schedules, working from home, or simply limiting your interactions to “hi” and “bye.”

The workplace can do strange things to people. This is part of the reason the TikToker below says not to trust your coworkers. Again, they are not your friends.

Some situations meet a point of no return where there isn’t much hope of saving the working relationship. In some people’s minds it can be an all-out war.

If you’ve done all you can to try and resolve the issue, but your coworker continues to escalate the situation, it’s time to take defensive measures.

5. Leave a paper trail.

Document, document, document. In the world of work, the unwritten rule is if there is no paper trail, it didn’t happen. When dealing with trouble at work, communicate in writing.

Sometimes, interactions and conversations happen in real time. In those cases, immediately after the interaction, follow up with an email recapping what happened and what was discussed.

Also, keep your own records of everything that happened. As long as you’re not taking any confidential information, you can document your experience. Include specifics like date and time.

Your journal should be completed outside the workplace on your own computer or notepad. Everything done onsite using their property belongs to them.

RELATED: 9 Sad Signs You're Letting A Toxic Person Get The Best Of You

6. Take it to HR.

There is a natural fear of human resources by employees. It’s hard to know whether they are looking out for you or protecting their employer.

As an HR professional who believes strongly in employee advocacy, it is always going to feel like reporting unsavory situations in the workplace should be reported and reviewed fairly. However, like any other profession, there are good people and not-so-good ones.

If you have a human resources team member you trust, talk to them about the problem.

When working with HR, be willing to reach resolution. Be open to sharing, but stay aware of the impact of your words and any potential fallout.

7. Keep it to yourself while at work.

Outside of human resources, you should not talk to any of your colleagues about what’s going on. It could quickly turn into a game of "he said, she said."

As quiet as it’s kept, people love to see others caught up in unnecessary drama. Especially in the workplace. Your drama is their time to show what a great employee they are so they will fuel the fire.

Also avoid sending anything about the one-sided beef with your coworker from any resources owned by the organization. This includes your laptop, computer, work phone, hot spot, or anything they pay for.

Companies have the authority to review anything you are doing on their servers or property. Limit your use of work-related equipment to job-related correspondence and tasks.

8. Stay focused.

It’s easy to let your work slip at a time like this. Focusing on your job could help to distract you from the stress of the circumstances.

But beware of any interactions with your estranged coworker. In the heat of the issue, people have been known to turn a mountain into a molehill.

Everyone will be curious about what’s going on, so it is important to keep your attention on what you are paid to do. Drown out the noise and protect what’s left of your peace from negativity.

9. Throw in the towel.

Once you’ve tried every trick in your bag to address a toxic coworker and have been unsuccessful, it may be time to move on.

You’ve reported the problem to human resources. No action was taken. You are still in an uncomfortable situation with a coworker who isn’t going anywhere. That could be a sign that you need to start a new adventure.

It is detrimental to your mental health to do battle at work. If there is no concrete resolution, you should get out. If the situation ended in a way that caused trauma or financial loss for you, reaching out to representation outside of the organization is a good idea.

Your job should be a place where you are empowered to do your best work. If a toxic coworker is trying to make your life a living hell, suffering through it is not an option.

RELATED: 7 Signs You're In A Toxic Relationship With Your Job

NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment & news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.

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