Maybe you love your job on paper, but in reality something is dragging you down. And that something is the person in the cubicle a few feet from your own. Most job descriptions don't account for the amount time we devote to workplace dynamics—whether that means withstanding foul lunch odors emanating from the office microwave or worrying about your boss's overuse of exclamation points in an email. But those are just minor issues compared to the burden a toxic coworker.
You know when one is in your midst—they slow down your progress, put a damper on your positive approach to a project or just make you feel like you need to watch your back 24/7.
It's not about a clash of personalities or a difficult person you can try to overlook. True toxic coworkers can poison the well of productivity and even muscle you out of your position. A study by Harvard Business School researchers recently found that toxic behavior in the workplace caused stress for their coworkers, lessended productivity and prompt "other employees to leave an organization faster and more frequently," according to the HarvardGazette.
So what qualifies as toxic behavior and how do you put a stop to it before it spirals out of control? According to HBS researchers, certain character traits like extreme selfishness, overconfidence, too much risk-taking or an emphatic enforcement of rules, could all be predictors of the kind of coworker you want to avoid. To further break it down, we rounded up the three worst types of toxic coworkers and what to do about them.
Gossiping about coworkers, fishing for intel that crosses personal boundaries, spreading unreliable information about the company and its employees.
How To Shut It Down:
Gossiping and spreading rumors is one of the hallmarks of toxic workplace behavior, according to research published in the Harvard Business Review. While often rooted in insecurity and a need for control, these kinds of coworkers are masters of contagion, creating an environment of paranoia that can be paralyzing.
Sara Stanizai, the founder of Prospect Therapy, suggests keeping your personal life personal when confronted with such colleagues. "It might not mean that you're necessarily limiting what you share, but you're proactively thinking about how you want to present yourself to others," Stanizai summarized in her advice to Girlboss. "In this way, you'll safeguard yourself against potential rumors, and possible preconceived notions about your capabilities."
Still, when confronted with a rumormonger looking for a scoop, shutting it down can be awkward. TheMuse's Lea Mcleod, a career coach, has a solution. "Gossip mongers often have little regard for fact," she writes. "So, when I hear something outrageous or questionable, I push for real answers."
She might respond to gossip by saying "Oh, wow, that sounds pretty extreme. Is that a fact? Or did you hear that from someone?." The result? "You'll quickly set the expectation that you won't engage in frivolous chatter that's not based in fact," explains Mcleod. "In turn, gossips will likely steer clear of you because asking for facts takes all the fun out of it for them."
Signature Moves: Focusing on the negative aspects of the job, constantly shutting down ideas and creating obstacles at every turn.
How To Shut It Down:
Much like The Rumormonger, The Downer's toxicity can be contagious. You may find yourself lacking motivation or the drive for creative workarounds because all you can think is "What's the point?" This line of thinking can leave you in a job rut that wouldn't otherwise exist, threatening your productivity, communication skills and, ultimately, your employment.
"Don't give in and chime in with your negativity, but rather be friendly and keep conversations light with this person," Jennifer Lee Magas, vice president of Magas Media Consultants, LLC, tells Monster.com. "While you might initially feel obligated to lend an ear, associating yourself too closely with this person can give you a bad reputation at work."
But how do you keep the negativity from seeping into your brain subconsciously? Stanford professor and organizational psychologist Robert Sutton discovered a clever tactic. "There are mind tricks to protect your soul — ways for the situation to be less upsetting to you even though you can't change it," he explains in Stanford Business School's Insights. "My favorite is a guy at Stanford who pretends that he's a doctor who studies 'a-hole-ism.'" The idea is to create a detachment from the toxic behavior, so that you become an observer of a strange environment—a kind of field researcher—who isn't emotionally impacted by the culture you're studying.
SignatureMoves: Smiling to your face and criticizing you behind your back, encouraging your ideas in private and dismissing them in meetings, generally trying to sabotage you through gaslighting.
How To Shut It Down: Backstabbers are hard to initially spot. They disarm you with kindness, earn your trust and then pounce. Usually, they're just threatened, insecure and hellbent on eliminating the competition. This type of workplace jerk may seem insurmountable but they usually have one weakness: confrontation. They're inherently dishonest, so their fear of being caught in a lie or faced with someone who sees right through them can prompt them to back off ASAP.
With that in mind, workplace advice author Abby Curnow-Chavez suggests having "an honest, candid conversation with the person." You don't need to attack or go on the defense. Instead, try a measured approach. "Focus on the impact the behavior is having on you," Curnow-Chavez writes in HBR. "Ask for feedback on your own behavior as well." This will throw them off guard and force them to examine why they're so threatened by you. If nothing else, you will have made an attempt to right the situation. Keep a record of this. "When you are having ongoing problems with someone, it's important to document what's taking place," career expert Sue Morem tells CBSNews. "Keep a journal/notes of conversations and keep copies of e-mails, voice mails, or any other communication should you need to prove your case in the future."
You don't have to be dragged down by one bad egg. If someone is messing with your workplace culture, your productivity or your sanity, the best thing you can do is steer clear of the toxic spillover.
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The tech industry's having a tough time. Only months ago, those who were bragging about their hot tech jobs and (seemingly) hyper-performing Crypto portfolios are probably screaming, crying, gnashing their teeth, and throwing up. And they may or may not be unemployed.
First, the recession is obliterating the stock market as we speak. Then, the summer Crypto proved the “decentralized marketplace” isn’t as impervious as Crypto nerds claimed. And now, the entire tech industry is facing a serious reckoning. It’s meltdown season — and Mercury isn’t even in retrograde.
First, Elon Musk bought Twitter. He subsequently fired a staggering number of employees. He then instituted Twitter Blue, a verification subscription which was a spectacular FAILURE. Most notably, causing the stock price of every significant insulin company to plummet by BILLIONS. It’s a long story, but the takeaway: the best $8 some random Twitter user ever spent.
Meanwhile, major tech companies like Meta, Salesforce, Redfin — and more — have been laying off thousands of employees. Wave after wave of layoffs are tearing through the entire tech sector, leaving thousands bamboozled and bereft. And this — alllll this — is happening while Jeff Bezos is giving away his money to Dolly Parton. I love her, but she has a theme park. These people don’t have jobs!
But this is nothing compared to the drama going on at former-Crypto giant FTX. And somehow, Tom Brady and Gisele are implicated!?! First, the divorce, now this.
Here’s a simplified version of events — and you don’t even need to understand crypto to follow along.
The Super Bowl: The true origins can be traced back to the Super Bowl, where much ad time was devoted to emergent crypto companies vying for the attention of potential investors. Among them: FTX.
January 2022: FTX was valued at an estimated $32 billion. They even had an NBA stadium named after them in Miami. But most prominently, their now infamous Super Bowl ad starring Larry David, who had never appeared in a commercial before. Just imagine that shoot. You should’ve stuck to your guns, Larry.
Don't Miss Out on Crypto: Larry David FTX Commercialwww.youtube.com
Nov 2: The real drama started — as it always does — with some shady trades. CoinDesk published a report that exposed that Alameda Research – owned by the same people as FTX – had bought a ton of FTT … FTX’s cryptocurrency.
Nov 6: In a Tweet, the founder of Binance — one of FTX’s biggest competitors — said their company was going to dump their FTX tokens "due to recent revelations that have came to light." Investors panicked and followed suit. And so began the FTT price plummet.
But with all their investors cashing in their coins, FTX was on the hook for all that money — which it could not afford to pay out. This is when things started to look really hairy.
Nov 8: With their tails between their legs, FTX went to Binance for an out. Binance agreed to acquire FTX.
Nov 9: Just kidding! Whatever was in those docs must have scared off Binance because they pulled out of the deal just a day later. Does this feel like an episode of Succession to you, too?
Nov. 11: FTX had no way to repay all this money. And any potential buys were not going anywhere near this dumpster fire. So FTX was forced to file for bankruptcy. 30-year-old CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried resigned.
He tweeted that he was “really sorry,” though! SO maybe that counts for something. Cue the world’s tiniest violin playing in the background.
\u201cFun fact:\n\nIf you spent $1,000 shorting the 2022 Super Bowl advertisers, you'd be a billionaire today:\n\n\u25ab\ufe0f FTX\n\u25ab\ufe0f Carvana\n\u25ab\ufe0f DraftKings\n\u25ab\ufe0f Uber Eats\n\u25ab\ufe0f Meta Oculus\n\u25ab\ufe0f Rocket Mortgage\n\u25ab\ufe0f Coinbase\n\u25ab\ufe0f Vroom\n\u25ab\ufe0f Salesforce\n\u25ab\ufe0f GM\u201d— Chris Bakke (@Chris Bakke) 1667931782
But there’s more!
Later that day, reports emerged that FTX transferred $10 BILLION to Alameda — the same sister company mentioned above. That’s right, the one that started this mess — sparking controversy about how much access top leaders had to the company's finances.
Nov 13: Where’s the money? New reports reveal that those BILLIONS of dollars had just … disappeared?
Nov 14: Now the cops are involved. Where the hell is the money, man? Regulators are trying to get to the bottom of this, while looking into criminal liabilities.
Nov 16: Here comes the class action. Defendants are suing FTX’s Bankman-Fried for misleading information. But the walls are now closing in on celebrities who appeared in FTX commercials, including Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Stephen Curry, Larry David, and Shaquille O’Neal.
"FTX’s fraudulent scheme was designed to take advantage of unsophisticated investors from across the country, who utilize mobile apps to make their investments," the lawsuit alleges. "As a result, American consumers collectively sustained over $11 billion dollars in damages.”
There you have it. But don’t hold your breath — there’s more to come, I’m sure. In fact, the documentary is already in the works
And if you still don’t follow, here are some TikToks tracking the drama:
SBF bears a striking resemblance to Bernard Madoff. #money #crypto #ftx #finance #sbf #news #binance #alameda #bitcoin #ethereum #ftt #coin #cryptocurrency
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight: