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  • Clara Wajngurt

How to Deal With Colleagues Who Exhibit Toxic Behaviors

Teamwork and collaboration are emphasized in today's workplace. This means top - down decision - making is on the decrease and grassroots operations are on the rise (Curnow-Chavez, Harvard Business Review, 2018). Grassroots innovation is impacted by coworker networking, which means sharing information directly between co-workers, and this on the rise as a form of organizational decision-making. As a result of this emerging dynamic in our workplace, any dysfunctional colleague can negatively hurt the team approach.

The most common destructive toxic behaviors include:

Backstabbing, Criticizing, Blaming Gossiping and Spreading Rumors Agreement with the Boss when the Boss is present at meetings, but not afterwards Hoarding Information Undermining Others Having Personal Agendas Toxic behavior is destructive because it creates unnecessary drama and destruction. Think about it, these behaviors which are toxic, remind us of workplace bullying behaviors. It takes one toxic member on a team to destroy the team's spirit. Toxic behavior undermines the values exhibited by the team leader and degrades the team culture. The team leader must  acknowledge what is happening  on the team and hold the colleague exhibiting toxic behavior accountable. Such behavior brings the team down.

If the colleague who is exhibiting toxic behavior is your peer....try one or more of these strategies:

  • Have an honest conversation with your colleague

  • Serve as a role model for your team-support collaboration, dialogue and transparency

  • Talk to your boss about it-have a meeting to discuss challenging behaviors on the team that disrupt the team approach.

  • Ensure that the toxic behaviors do not drain you-if they do this can impact on emotional and physical health.

Do not allow toxic behaviors in your workplace to evolve to workplace bullying.


Please consider my services by looking at my website at: or write to me at We offer individual consults as well as workshops for small or large scale groups.

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