Is My Co-worker A Toxic Person? These 7 Signs Can Tell You

Working in a toxic environment can cost a lot more than your bad mood and down energy. It can actually have long-term effects, as studies claim.

Like arsenic, toxic people will slowly drain you.

You might not want to go to your workplace if, unfortunately, you have one or another toxic colleague. So what’s wrong about you? Or them? Or is the world a cage slowly sucking your breath out of you?

That, fortunately, is not the case. Things will eventually turn out better.

Just take a deep breath, relax and dive into the article.

Why Are Toxic People Harmful For You?

To understand why toxic people are devastating for your mental health, you've got to first comprehend the concept of Dementors in the Harry Potter Lore. Remember those dark loving, soul-sucking creatures that take all the happiness and positivity away from you and leave you feeling empty and drained? Not to mention you don't remain yourself anymore?

Well, that's pretty much the case with toxic people. And that's pretty much the danger they pose you.

According to a study conducted by American Medical Association, there's a risk of diabetes, heart diseases and metabolism issues with people exposed to toxic people.

Also, toxic environment in a workplace leads directly to decreased work efficiency of the employees.

A research conducted by International journal of environmental research and public health in 2018told that it has been proven that toxic environment in a workplace has a direct negative significant effect on job productivity.

Toxic environment in a workplace makes you feel drained, emotionally exhausted and feeling negative.

Do People Choose To Become Toxic?

It's sad to know that in a way those people who become toxic are so due to their own bad life experiences.

Maybe their parents weren't so cooperative. Or maybe, they weren't given a positive environment where they could learn emotional management.

Maybe nobody respected their choices. Maybe they were taught people pleasing so much that it went into their bones. Maybe they aren't mature enough to take the blame because they never learnt and were never taught.

Or maybe, thats what they choose to be after being toxic for such a long time that they can't differentiate between being toxic and being normal.

Either way, You are absolutely not the one to teach them what they should be. Your problem is the only one you have to solve. Trust me.

Because your duty is only to let a person know the difference between what's right and whats wrong. It is not to change them.

How To Tell If Your Colleague Or Boss Is Being Toxic?

Fortunately, there are certain telltale signs of a toxic person, be it your colleague, boss or you yourself.

Before you read further, I should make this clear that these traits are for educational purposes and so are thus ..


Do you have a co-worker who comes to you gossiping about others? Are they always in pursuit of one or another story? Poking their noses in matters that don't concern them? A person who gossips about others in front of you probably leaks out your matters to pthers as well.

Rumormongers love to learn others secrets and share it with others after seasoning them properly.

They prove their sharp tongues mostly at the expense of others' secrets.

Not only toxic co-workers show their own nature through what they do, they can also spoil your mood and precious time that could be utilized doing creative stuff.

Like seriously, are you even a human? Gossiping about me in front of them and backbiting them in front of me?

Blame Throwers

Toxic people throw blame on others. Remember, they are always the victim. Even if you haven't done anything wrong, they'll manipulate you into thinking that you are in fact, the guilty one.

Whether it's a project they messed up or an appointment with the boss that didn't go very well, it is others that are to blame. Even if they're late for work, the guilty one is… well, everybody except them.

Sticky Needy Guy

Toxic coworkers often depend too much on others. Either because of the need for self-approval or low self esteem, they would be clingy and sticky towards people.

It's alright to ask for help when you're stuck, but constantly seeking others' might at times be frustrating and energy draining.

If you're a kind and considerate sort of a person, you may try to help out everybody who comes to you for aid, but beware, too much of it would suck out your energy.

Doubt Creators

A toxic colleague can be so manipulative that they may make you self-doubt your decisions. They may show you the negative side of the world and say they're being realistic. Nothing would please them except your spoiled mood.

If you share one of your future plans with them they would probably tell you it's a bad idea through and through. They'll explain each and every fault of your plan and voice out their (false) concern. Instead of appreciating the good points and gently correcting your bad points about your plan, they'll downright reject it and deem it ridiculous.

'Hey John! Would you like to have a look at my presentation? I worked the whole night without a bit of sleeping!'

Yeah sure. Oh...well… I think this template is too feminine. And.. uh...this pie-chart is alright, but It'd be better off without this complexity you've added...and well...why didn't you…'


Know a colleague who complains about the weather, the lunch, the boss, the workload, the world, and generally, the whole universe?

Toxic colleagues love to rant about how everything around them is bad. They're the most oppressed creatures in the Milky Way. No matter what they do or how they live, no good thing happens to them. They would compare themselves with others and tell how others don't deserve what they have and how they're more worthy for it.

A toxic boss would tell you how you are a burden on the company. Your next door toxic colleague would very kindly inform you of your promotion being undeserved. Your toxic secretary would like to rant about her disoriented sitting place.

In the end you'll be beaten up by all their complaints and negativity.

Gas Lighters

Gas lighting is a kind of a manipulation in which a person will make somebody question their own actions and sanity.

Toxic people are so manipulative that even if they have done something wrong, upon your pointing out they may start gaslighting. And you'll end up thinking yourself a no-brainer.

Suppose your toxic colleague told you that the boss was angry at you for being late in today's meeting. You are worried and so immediately go to your boss to apologize. Your boss told you that he knew that traffic conditions in your area are not so good and said he wasn't angry at all. You are baffled but you question your colleague about the matter anyway. They said, 'Of Course I didn't say that! Don't you remember? I told you that he would be angry if you'd continue to come late. Honestly, you do have a bad memory!'


A good way to figure out if your colleague is a toxic person is to see whether you have a give and only give relationship with them. Toxic people are often the takers and never concentrate in returning the favor. They may not respect your boundaries and not consider your mental peace to be worthwhile.

If your boss or colleague only takes and takes and escapes when it's his turn to do some favor, possibility is they're toxic.

Limelight Lovers

Toxic people, and in our case toxic coworkers, tend to ignore others and mostly focus upon themselves. In a general conversation, they may like to turn the thread of conversation back toward themselves Everytime it strays off.

People really do like to talk about themselves. But when a person feigns boredom when the subject of conversation is you and weave the story back toward their lives again and again, beware, they may be a toxic person.


Toxic colleagues can be very energy draining and manipulative. They can steal away your mental peace and make you question your abilities. To identify them is the first step in distancing yourself from soul-sucking creatures. Establish healthy boundaries and directly confront them to get control of your life back.

Here’s an infographic that can help you tell whether your co-worker is toxic or not.

Further reading

  • Toxic People by Marsha Petrie Sue
  • Toxic People: 10 Ways Of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable by Lillian Glass
  • Manipulation and Dark Psychology: How to Learn Speed Reading People, Spot Covert Emotional Manipulation, Detect Deception and Defend Yourself from Narcissistic Abuse and Toxic People by Jonathan Mind




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