Three Toxic Workplace Behaviors You Should Avoid


If you think about it, your co-workers really are your second family. They are the people who you see throughout the majority of your day, sharing successes and failures together. You share life celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and office anniversaries. You share about your weekend, your kids, and your life. But, because you share so much, there’s also a risk of sharing negative behaviors and attitudes too. Knowing this, it is important to understand how to approach and live with toxic co-workers.

The Pessimist.
The pessimist co-worker is characterized by his or her ability to consistently anticipate the worst possible outcome in every situation. To be fair, we all have gloomy days where we would rather be somewhere other than work. That being said, the pessimist has more gloomy days than not, bringing the office morale to a dangerous low. The worst thing about a pessimistic attitude is the fact that it is contagious. Recognizing this and avoiding negative conversations with your pessimistic co-worker will be imperative. Keep conversation as positive as possible. For every negative anecdote you hear, share the positive side of thinking. While you may not be able to cure your pessimistic co-worker, a cheerful attitude is contagious too. So it’s definitely worth a try. Plus, it’ll help keep your spirits lifted no matter what.

The Slacker.
We’ve all come in contact with at least one person who tends to procrastinate. Whether they’re putting off returning a phone call or avoiding a major deadline, these slackers don’t just affect their productivity, but yours as well. Typically, when an individual procrastinates, they will look for help during the final countdown of their deadline. To avoid enabling this procrastinator’s tendency, do not offer your services when the clock is ticking and derail your own productivity. For example, if your co-worker approaches you five minutes before your day is over in need of major assistance, simply say you’re unavailable for such a last-minute commitment. Helping your co-workers is a mutually beneficial behavior most of the time, but in this situation you will put an end to the slacker’s bad behavior and point him or her back to the path of productivity. 

The Showboat.
Despite your efforts to create a team atmosphere, a few co-workers may ignore you. Unfortunately in the work world, there will be times when others take full credit for something they only partially contributed to. In this situation, it really is best to say nothing. Continuing to work hard, contributing to the team, and maintaining professional relationships will stand out to your co-workers and employers. In the end, you will gain the greatest achievement of all, the respect and admiration of your peers, and most importantly, your boss. Notice the showboat stealing other people’s thunder too? Come to their aid with helpful words of praise, and they’ll be more likely to point out your achievements too. Besides, recognition is always more valuable when it comes from someone else.

Office relationships are undoubtedly tough. Stressful deadlines, workloads, and co-workers can all contribute to a toxic work environment. However, if you remember to keep your cool and professionalism, you will be able to steer clear of the majority of inner-office drama and toxicity.


  1. Tim!

    Good article but you might have a misspelling:
    “For every negative antidote you hear, share the positive side of thinking.” Antidote or anecdote?
    Not that my grammar is any good 😉
    Thank You!

  2. Patricia

    So what if the toxic person is the owner? Actually it’s both husband & wife. Neither have any respect for anyone. She cusses others out, even if they aren’t the ones she’s mad at. She talks nasty about EVERYONE, customers & employees behind their backs, never has the guts to confront anyone straight up. He treats everyone as if they are worse then a bug, even had the audacity to tell someone they were “a waste & dissappointment of a human being.”

  3. Movin' On Up

    Thank you for the feedback Tim. We’ve made the necessary changes to the post. Thanks again and keep reading!
    Patricia, we are so sorry to hear about your difficult situation with your employers. Having a toxic boss is definitely a challenge, one that far too many people have to face. Although it seems the majority of your workplace issues need to be addressed by your employers rather than you, check out a series we wrote last year – “Touchdown With a Bad Boss.” You’ll find some real life examples of individuals working for a bad boss and how they overcame their toxic situation. Good luck!

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