How to deal with a toxic colleague

 

This week: Work conflict.

Issues with colleagues are part of life, but how a worker deals with them can make or break their career - and happiness.

The key is to take emotion out of it. Whether it is people stealing ideas or taking credit for someone else's work, intimidation, jealousy, or disagreeing with a decision on a project, a lot of conflict is irrational. It's usually based on fear - that you will take their job or will look smarter than them - but if you see things objectively, you can deal with it as such.

Here is my best advice for handling conflict with a colleague.

TIP 1: TRY TO UNDERSTAND

When someone is aggressive towards you or makes a smart comment, find out why they are acting in that way. Maybe they are fearful or don't know what they are doing. It doesn't mean you have to fix the issue or respond but it will help you understand.

 

A number of current and former employees have complained of a toxic workplace culture at The Ellen Degeneres Show. Picture: James Devaney/GC
A number of current and former employees have complained of a toxic workplace culture at The Ellen Degeneres Show. Picture: James Devaney/GC

TIP 2: SILENCE OR KINDNESS

Just because someone made a smart comment doesn't mean you should give one back if it's going to inflame the situation. Come back with kindness or silence. It also sets you up to be promoted because that's how leaders deal with it.

TIP 3: DON'T GOSSIP

You can avoid a lot of conflict the less you talk about things at work - focus on your job, be polite and friendly and get on with it. As soon as emotions come into it, people know too much and start scheming, then there is conflict.

Gossip is toxic. Do not talk about other people's business and it's even dangerous to talk about your own.

You can build relationships, but remember that although they might be your friends, you are at a job and your position trumps that.

 

Amanda Rose. Picture: Supplied
Amanda Rose. Picture: Supplied

TIP 4: DOCUMENT IT

If conflict escalates into bullying, it is important to immediately start documenting evidence, such as emails and conversations. The difficulty is if you go to HR without evidence you can seem like the problem, especially if the bully is quite manipulative. Copy people into correspondence with that person so there are witnesses.

Never confront a bully because if you are fearful of someone you should not be alone with them. Go to your manager or mentor and discuss it.

Originally published as How to deal with a toxic colleague