8 Toxic Personality Types to Avoid at Work
Don't be sucked into a negativity vortex
There are certain personality types to avoid at work. These people can overwhelm with their toxic nature, and bring you down with them if you’re not careful.
When you’re confronted with any of these personality types, it’s best to just keep a blank look, listen to them briefly, and then find a reason to end the conversation without engaging them further. If that fails, a more aggressive response will be necessary. And possibly taking it to the boss or HR.
Read on to find out more about who to avoid, and how to do it.
Toxic types in the workplace
Here are the types of toxic co-workers to avoid:
- The Negative Co-Worker – This personality type is always saying something negative about a person or a thing. We’ve worked with these types before. Once, a co-worker talked about how she was working with a golden retriever rescue group. The Negative Co-Worker said, “What, you don’t believe in saving other dog breeds?” Later, another co-worker had a surprise engagement when her boyfriend proposed at a basketball game for his favorite team. The Negative Co-Worker said, “Oh, so it was all about him, huh?”
- The Blamer – This person can’t accept responsibility for anything, whether in their professional or private life. If a report is late, then it’s never their fault. They’ll blame the intern, the receptionist, their team members, or anyone else other than recognizing their role in the problem that led to the delay. In their personal life, it’s just as bad. A co-worker’s ex-husband is a blamer. One day he got a speeding ticket on the way to drop off their son at her house, and he said it was his ex-wife’s fault for moving and forcing him to drive on the interstate to get to her house.
- The Drama Lover – This person loves to spread rumors around the office, whether true or not. They don’t outright lie, but they’ll speculate and get so excited about their story that they don’t remember whether it’s real or not. And they don’t really care, as long as they get to be center stage and everyone is focused on them.
- The Bully – Almost every workplace has one of these Type A personalities that try to step on anyone in their way. They were the bully in school, and their personality hasn’t changed in the workplace.
- The Manipulator – This is one of the most dangerous personality types. They will gossip about you, make your life miserable, and leave little evidence of their behavior until it’s too late. Beware, because they’re often charming and friendly on the outside, until they stab you in the back.
- The Liar – This one is clear-cut. Lying isn’t just for first graders. A true liar will lie about anything that they think they can get away with, whether it’s pretending to have sent an email, a report, how close they are to finishing a white paper, etc. You’ll quickly spot this personality type and learn to discount anything they say.
- The Credit Stealer – This person will do anything to try to score a promotion. They’ll blame others, lie about co-workers, take credit for something they don’t deserve.
- The Gossip – If there’s a breakup or someone is fired in the office, this person will be the first to know it and they’ll tell everyone. Don’t engage them in conversation or they’ll include anything you say in their next story to another co-worker.
How to avoid these types
The best way to avoid these toxic co-workers is by being polite and courteous so as not to be obvious yet make sure to keep a distance, said Maria Akopyan, a life and relationship coach with Akopyan Coaching.
If one of these toxic co-workers approaches you, it is best to keep the interaction short, but always be warm. It is best not to let one of these co-workers get under your skin, or take anything they do or say personally,” she said.
“As an energy healer, I also recommend people literally wipe themselves off after an interaction with a co-worker so that their energy doesn't cling onto them. Sometimes we get what's called ‘chorded’ by others and their negativity, drama or ego stays with us, so the act of wiping yourself off with the intention of letting it go will prevent them from attaching to you on an energetic level, plus you'll feel better knowing you've wiped yourself clean from that interaction,” she said.
Befriending a toxic coworker will interfere with you on a mentally, emotionally and physical level and definitely affect your work. They get under your skin, push your buttons and distract you from producing quality work. They also bring down the team morale. If the person mistakenly believes you are a friend due to your kindness, it is best to be polite yet not get involved with their objectives, while setting boundaries when necessary, Akopyan said.
Definitely avoid opting for kindness as a way to deal with them, said Michel Bordeau, a therapist with Acadie Psychotherapy Services. “Kindness is a dangerous way to manage a relationship with these individuals. Kindness is built upon an emotional contract. An unspoken contract but clearly emotionally grounded, e.g., through favors, secrets, requests for approval, etc. Kindness will suck us into the toxicity. And we know it, but it's much harder to avoid it than we think. So, we avoid the individual entirely instead of addressing the issue face-to-face.”
“Assertiveness is the most effective way to manage this type of relationship. Individuals with poor boundaries act and think without an understanding of what is acceptable for others. In truth they have not learned effective boundaries before they managed to reach adulthood. Reasons vary, but the remedy does not. To assertively set boundaries is not the same as being unkind,” Bordeau said.