How to Handle a Toxic Coworker

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Anyone working in any career, let alone a health care career, has had to deal with the toxic co-worker. Those stressed-out, antisocial colleagues who prefer to keep everyone at a distance. Not only can they be difficult to get close to, they make it so you really don’t want to get that close.

So, what do you do when someone makes your workday and health care career a living hell? We have to coexist, right?

We of course want our Concorde graduates working in harmony and bliss in their health care career. Two New York City-based relationship therapists offered tips for dealing with a difficult working relationship in an article published in 2016 by The New York Times. Following is what they had to say.

Tips for handling a toxic coworker in your health care career

Identify the problem. A toxic work relationship can leave a lasting impression, so it’s important to figure out what’s bothering you. There are a few types of behavior that can send up red flags. Beware the colleague who talks badly about other people, or the person who complains non-stop. The person who needs to be given credit for everything – or shuts you out of meetings – also can be a bad sign.

Confide in someone you trust. Run the scenario by a trusted friend. Being self-aware is important. You don’t know what the co-worker is going through.

Take action. There are several ways to cope if the conflict is long-lasting. You can try confronting your colleague by addressing the issue and asking him or her how to work together to fix it. If this doesn’t work, distancing yourself is not a bad idea. If it’s a legitimate human resources issue, like harassment or abuse, document and keep a history of the problems.

When they go low, you go high. Take the high road when confronted with negativity. You might even try complimenting the colleague who tries to undermine you.

But what if you’re the problem? We don’t often think that we might be contributing to our own toxic work environments. If you’re sensing conflict, try to put yourself in a colleague’s shoes. Think about how you’re coming across. Clear communication is important when it comes to relating to others, too.

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