When is it time to break up with a toxic co-worker?

Sometimes we can become so enmeshed in our working life that we lose perspective and miss the fact that a person we work with is toxic to our personal and business well-being. Here are some signs that it is time to break up with your toxic co-worker:

• They perpetually drag you down and make you feel lousy about your work
• They persistently don’t do what they tell you they are going to
• They hold on to the power within your relationship and refuse to allow you to be in control
• Even after confronting them on your issues with them, they still exhibit the same behaviors

Sound familiar anyone?

Well, my friend, it is time to break up with this toxic co-worker. They are killing your mojo and you need not waste any more time getting sucked into their negative vortex.
If you are an entrepreneur the solution is a bit easier than if you work in a company where you may be forced to have to interact with this person. And of course, each situation like this is highly contextually driven and there is no one answer fits all kind of a response.

For my entrepreneurs: I suggest one of two avenues, depending on how critical they are to your business relationships or future. The easy first route is to simply distance yourself from them and move towards colleagues and peers who bring you satisfaction and positivity when working together. However, if the toxic relationship is one that is very essential to your business and that you really can’t afford to lose right now, here is what I would suggest: Setting up one final meeting, eyeball to eyeball where you state your frustrations in the relationship and let them know that you cannot continue to work this way. Ask them what needs to happen for you to be able to shift towards a more productive and positive and trusting relationship. If they don’t hold up these agreed upon new terms in the relationship, then it is time to cut your losses and move on. You simply cannot afford to work under these situations. And this person is likely undermining you behind your back anyways to clients and colleagues. Run quickly!

For my corporate folks: It’s time to hold your toxic co-worker accountable and this is going to involve a lot of courage and initiative on your end. First, if you are comfortable, I would suggest the same two suggestions above. However, if they both flop and you are still left in the same bind, it is time to escalate this situation to your managers. It would be wise to first have a conversation with your boss alone and them know the objective and specific facts about the person’s toxic ways and how that behavior is impacting the overall business. The third most critical point to be able to make in this conversation is what your suggestions are for remedying the situation. From here, it should be up to your boss how they want to handle this situation. Ideally he will confront the toxic co-worker and enforce clear repercussions if the person does not improve their behavior. However, you should be prepared for the toxic co-worker to potentially present a list of complaints that they might have about you. The most important key is to get some resolution in the situation and shift you both out of the toxic bind that is occurring today.

Good luck and let me know how things go!


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