Know These Toxic Workplace Personalities and How To Avoid Them

When a boss or colleague attempts to sabotage your career or you feel you are being sabotaged, you are in the hard spot. Complain, and you’re no longer considered a team player or become accused of imagining the situation. Do nothing, and risk ruining your career. Start by keeping your cool. Showing a temper may erode your professionalism and you may start feeling despondent. If the boss seem passive about the situation probably because he thinks the accuser probably imagined the whole situation, then, confronting the offending co-worker may be the next step.

Understanding personalities in the workplace

Many of us feel uncomfortable when it comes to confrontation. Do not feel bad or place some vague moral judgement on yourself based on what others might think. Remember, those who engage in this negative job behavior are always the least confident, secure people bereft of any good judgment. They are bullies who attack those who will allow it.

Once you remove yourself from the list, your destructive co-worker will likely move to the other victim. Finally, before confronting your saboteur, prepare yourself. Be sure to be able to properly state the issue in a factually based sentence. And do it when you are being aware of the situation. However, your failure to address this toxic behavior and confront your saboteur early on is likely to make your predicament only worse.

Related: Ways to Guarantee Quality Work

What are the different personality types in the workplace?

#1: Whiners

Do not argue with Whiners, as it just encourages them to keep complaining and feel compelled to repeat their problems. Do not try to solve their problems for them – you cannot. Never ask them why they are complaining to you about their problems. They hear this as an invitation to start all over again from the beginning. If you must deal with a Whiner, your goal is to team up with them to form a problem-solving alliance (and if that does not work, then the goal is to get them to go away!) So, the best you can do with someone who is constantly complaining, and for everyone around them, is to work with them to diminish their feelings of helplessness by helping them to identify solutions. As the feeling of helplessness diminishes, so does the need to whine.

#2: Traitors

Keep them at arm’s length. Do not hold them in confidence or share any private or confidential matters with them. Be professional and always maintain a healthy business-like relationship with them. If possible, make the traitor understand that you are aware of his actions but would appreciate that you both concentrate on working towards a common goal that will benefit the organization or company.

#3: Busybody

First, you need to grow a spine. Then you must set some boundaries or limits. By continuing to respond to your nosy colleague, you are feeding and rewarding the very behavior that you wish to discourage. Busybodies typically prey on people who worry too much about being polite.

These timid souls feel obligated to engage in any conversation that someone initiates, no matter how irrelevant or inappropriate. To save you from the clutches of this meddlesome person, you must stop worrying about being rude and start standing up for yourself. The following “catch phrases” may help.

At the office, work provides the perfect excuse for ending any unsavory conversation. When cornered by a nosy co-worker, you can surreptitiously remove yourself from this conversation by saying, “I have a lot to do today, so I need to get back to my desk.” However, if the person starts prying into personal matters, you must establish clear boundaries. Then leave quickly, without responding to any follow-up questions or attempt to inveigle information out of you. To preserve office harmony and business relationship, you should deliver these lines with a pleasant tone and a friendly smile. If you keep this up, eventually your intrusive co-worker will learn to ask fewer questions.

#4: Slacker

If you do not care enough to talk to the person slacking, then why should your manager care enough to take your complaints seriously? If you find someone who consistently is slacking AND you have done everything humanly possible to deal with the situation, then going to your manager is the next best step. It is not tattling or gossiping if you have examples, and the reasons are legitimate.

Is it occasional slacking that bothers you? Then make sure you are keeping an inventory of all the activities, pointing out the times and dates of the event, as well as the impact to the team. Did customers wait? Orders delayed? Was the slacker ever a good contributor? If so, appeal to his desire to correct this behavior. Point out how NOT being a slacker is in the slacker’s best interests and will enable them to be more of a Team Player. If someone is slacking, catch them in the act. Call their attention to the behavior right away and notify your manager.

#5: Dr. Know-It-All

Since a perfectionist may not be the most decisive person in the room, it is your job to take on that role in a project. For example, if you are working on a project at your place of employment with a known perfectionist, do not play into their game. You may allow them a few times to go back and forth with their ideas and recommendations for changes, but at some point (preferably sooner rather than later) you must be firm in your assertions and explain that while we all would love to have the project turn out 100% perfect, there is a deadline to meet, and there is always room for error which can later be corrected.

If necessary, things can be updated and taken note of for future reference. Then take the reins and say something like, “This is our final round of changes, do you see any last-minute details you’d like to add or any part you may want to edit.”

If the situation becomes a serious problem, or you feel that the perfectionist may try to throw you under the bus, definitely express your concerns in a non-confrontational way with your boss or project leader. More than likely, they will be able to relate if the perfectionist is especially notorious around the office for this type of behavior.

By using this process and keeping a clear, level head, you can avoid conflicts with perfectionists. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to be negatively affected by this person’s problem-misery-loves-company attitude.

Related: 8 Tips For Professional Teamwork in the Workplace


What today’s organizations need are true leadership culture and natural hierarchies that espouse effective communication, inspiration, motivation, guidance and mentorship of every staff in the workplace.

Attitude is altitude and the real courage of a leader is exposed during critical moments of decision making. We can best handle toxic personalities in the workplace, if we do not allow our emotions begin to percolate inside of us at the slightest provocation such that we lose the conversation and the opportunity to connect better with a coworker that has a different personality and communication style different from ours.

Related: 7 Reasons Why Smiling Has Great Health Benefits

Can you think of any other toxic personalities you have dealt with or may have found yourself trying to avoid at your job? How were you able to effectively communicate and interact with them?



Solari is an author and a content writer for ifocurs, the most-advanced digital media platform for the most diverse, most online, and most socially engaged audience in modern times. When she is not working, she enjoys travel adventures, photography, and reading literary masterpieces. She is an influencer marketing consultant; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.

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