Toxic coworkers are, unfortunately, a fact of life that everyone has to deal with at least once – but often more – throughout their careers. They create chaos, push buttons, spread negativity and generally suck the joy out of any room they enter. Toxic people can wreak havoc on their coworkers’ job satisfaction and morale. But some people are able to rise above the negativity and even neutralize the toxic person. This is how people with high emotional intelligence (EQ) deal with their toxic colleagues.
“Being in a relationship focused business; we work with and meet many kinds of people. You can only control yourself, so lean towards having high emotional intelligence to set the right example for everyone around you. Peer to peer accountability will help to raise the EI in the company. Stay focused on the right core values; being customer centric, with a sense of urgency, good follow through and centered on managing expectations to really help those around you go down a path of true professionalism,” says Evan Violette, National Sales Manager, Contemporary Staffing.
They Set Limitations
Everyone knows a chronic complainer – someone who is far more interested in griping than working out a solution. It’s easy for other people to get sucked into to complain-fest, especially nice people who are generally sympathetic. However, people with high EQ don’t get sucked into the negativity. They either politely end the conversation and get back to work, or they challenge the complainer by asking what they plan to do to resolve the situation. That question requires the complainer to either redirect the conversation toward a solution, or (more likely) stop complaining about their issue du jour.
They Set Boundaries
People with high EQ don’t waste time engaging a toxic coworker. Say, for example, the toxic coworker sends a lengthy email complaining about a problem or trashing another colleague or the organization. Someone with strong EQ knows better than to take the bait. They either do not reply, or they reply with a short response. They may again ask the person how they plan to resolve the problem, or they may simply say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I hope your day gets better.” When toxic people know they can’t engage someone, they will move on.
They Deal Only In Facts
Toxic people are far more focused on feelings and emotions than facts. People with high EQ limit their interactions with toxic colleagues to fact-based conversations only. They steer all conversations back to the task at hand and ignore all the superfluous negativity.
They also do not fall into the trap of arguing with a toxic person. For example, a toxic coworker may insist that his boss is out to get him. Clearly, no one can prove such a claim, and telling a toxic person they are wrong is an exercise in futility. Someone with high EQ would just smile and nod, without getting sucked into an argument about the boss’s intentions.
They Have Healthy Outlets
People with high EQ can still be negatively impacted by a toxic coworker, even if they are able to manage and limit their interactions with that person throughout the day. The difference is that people with strong EQ don’t let it drag them down. They have healthy outlets for dealing with their own stress, whether it’s an after-work hobby, working out, taking walks at lunch, or a strong emotional support system. They know that they can’t manage other people’s behavior, but they can manage their own stress levels by taking care of themselves.
Toxic staffers can cause you to lose top performers on your team, but managers can’t fire someone for their personality. They can, however, work with a toxic person on a performance plan if they are not meeting their goals and they can work with HR to develop strategies to deal with the situation. Finally, managers can offer advice on using tactics like those listed above to help their other team members manage the chaos.
The best way to avoid toxic employees is to avoid hiring them from the start. If you are looking to improve your talent acquisition, hiring and retention strategies, partner with a true market leader. Contemporary Staffing Solutions is a nationally-recognized expert in staffing and recruiting. Contact us today to learn how CSS can help you achieve your goals.