Whether it’s at the job putting you through school or the one with a desk post-degree, they’ve all got them: toxic co-workers. No matter how they earn their title, toxic coworkers are sure to be a pain in the workplace. Regardless, these people shouldn’t get to infect you with their negativity and ruin your day. Here are a few ways to deal with that fellow employee we’re all bound to come across at one point or another.

Take a deep breath

When that coworker starts pushing your buttons, sit back and take a deep breath. Practice with me now: in through the nose, out through the mouth. Not only does this help you remove yourself from a possibly heated situation, but the extra oxygen delivered to your brain can really help you think clearer and see things in a more positive light. Take a minute or two to focus on your breathing and you should feel the tension in your body melt away.

Have a designated ventilation system

Whether it’s your mom on speed dial or writing your thoughts out in a Word doc, we all need to be able to let off a little steam every once in awhile. However, the most important rule for venting is to always keep it professional. You are still at work and are still expected to act like it. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending away from your desk and make sure not to just use this time to bad-mouth your fellow coworker, but do allow yourself to get your frustration out in a way that won’t make the situation worse. Venting not only helps you de-stress, but talking it out or analyzing your thoughts may help you see things from a different point of view.

Don’t let them get under your skin

There’s a saying that goes “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there still is going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” Reminding yourself of this can do wonders for a positive mindset. Whatever it is this person doesn’t like about you, their actions and outward negativity against you is on them. Don’t fall into their trap of getting upset or angry; this gives them the power. Let it all roll right off your back and eventually, they will get tired of trying to get a rise out of you.

Kill them with kindness

When a situation heats up, cool it down instantly with kind words, a calm attitude, and a soothing tone. People find it hard to stay in fight-mode when the other side is apologetic and mild. Show them you’re not here to argue and stay professional. If they want to smear their reputation with their words or actions, let them. You don’t have to let them drag you down too.

Confront them directly

Confrontation can be intimidating, especially in a professional setting, but dealing with an issue head on could save you a lot of stress and torment down the road. Make sure to keep it professional, book a conference room, and get a mediator if needed. Be open and honest and try to get your perspective across as constructive as possible. Avoid name calling and put-downs; this will only hurt your chances of getting through to them. By confronting this co-worker with grace and respect, you’ve established yourself as the bigger person and the ball is now in their court.

Have a conversation with your boss

When all else fails, share with your boss what’s been going on. Keeping him/her in the loop is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to employee conflict. They will likely have some tips or wisdom to shed on the situation. If the situation is bad enough or crossing the line into a hostile work environment, your boss should definitely be involved. They can take further action than you may be able to, or at the very least, will know to keep an eye on the situation.

Working with someone who carries a cloud of negativity around them can make for a long, emotionally exhausting work day. With a little poise, level-headedness, and keeping these tips in mind, you don’t have to let their toxicity rule the office. 

Emilie N
Emilie is an FFL Cabinet Member from the upper Midwest. She loves her mama, loves Jesus, and America, too. When she's not cheering on the Minnesota Vikings or obsessing over the Olympics, you can find her watching Friends or petting a dog.

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