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Coping with toxic co-workers

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in Centerpiece,Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

gossiping co-workersYou know the types: the co-worker who seeps negativity and hostility; the gossip-monger; or the critic, who always nitpicks others’ work.

So, what happens when you have several in one workplace? In some cases, a toxic work environment is a result of a laissez-faire manager who either doesn’t see the problem or doesn’t see the extent of the problem. How to cope:

•  Document everything. If the toxic behaviors begin to impact work, you may decide to take your issues to your boss, your boss’s boss or human resources.

“You need evidence for your claim that your colleagues’ hostility is affecting productivity. Bring emails, memos, anything you can point to that supports what you’re saying,” says Linda Durré, a consultant who specializes in workplace conflicts.

•  Bring one or more people with you, if you decide to escalate the issue to management. “To some extent, there is safety in numbers,” says Durré.

•  Focus on excelling at your job. “Be very, very good at what you do,” Durré advises. “Don’t give anyone an excuse to fire you.”

•  Take control over your own life, if all else fails. When left unchecked, chronic stress can make you sick. And take a moment to recognize why someone is pushing your buttons in the first place.

In the end, you may feel that leaving this office is the best move. But don’t give up without taking steps to bring the problem to higher-ups. “It’s in the company’s best interest to resolve conflict whenever possible because, in the long run, low morale, a hostile work environment, and high turnover are very costly,” says Durré.

— Adapted from “How to cope with toxic colleagues—if you must,” Anne Fisher, Fortune.

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