Dealing with difficult people in the workplace

‘One hallmark of the human species is the fact that we’re willing to make a special effort to punish those who violate social norms’ according to Laurie Santos, Yale psychologist.

‘We punish those who take resources unfairly and those who intend to do mean things to others.’

‘Many researchers have wondered whether this motivation is unique to our species.’

According to Bret Stetka, research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that despite being prone to occasional violent behavior, chimps actually much prefer cooperating over competing. In fact, the work shows that chimps work together at similar rates as humans — and that when violence does occur among apes, it is often directed toward an individual that is not being a team player.

We all have had our fair share of colleagues who take more of their share of credit, cut corners or sabotage projects. Some are great at doing the bare minimum work to get by and promptly expect others to fill in for them. Others specialize in stealing ideas and presenting it as their own. Some just create drama and appear genuinely concerned about work by sending emails off regular hours. Some specialize in backstabbing others to get ahead.

“One bad apple spoils the barrel but one good egg doesn’t make a dozen”

Basically, they make work extremely difficult for the “normal” people. You’re probably thinking of someone already!

Majority of employees blame it on their manager — why doesn’t the manager notice this, why doesn’t the manager address it.. They wish for something like this..

HR Manager: As part of your annual review, please pick one employee you would like us to transfer out of this department.

You: Are you kidding? Is this some kind of trick question.

HR Manager: is part of the newly rolled out annual toxic employee transfer program

You: Is it just only my peers or can I suggest managers too?

HR Manager: anyone …

You: (without thinking twice) xxxxx

Though you wish it would be as simple as that, getting rid of toxic people in the workplace is complicated. And no, it is not your managers responsibility. It is yours.

Managers are human beings too with their own dreams and fears. They are just driven by situations or lack of experience, lack of facts, wrong information and sometimes external pressures that we know absolutely nothing about because many-a-time our thoughts are self-centered. So spare your manager.

Dealing with toxic colleagues starts with poise, vulnerability, work friends, courage and facts.

Once you have been back stabbed, get over your emotional drama as quick as you can. The faster you can regain composure, the better. This is where 98% of people fail. Angry outbursts label you unprofessional and works in favour of the backstabber.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Resist the temptation to zone out. Confide with your peers and let them know what you’re going through. Most often than not, you will find that someone else has suffered the same fate silently.

Confront the backstabber with facts. Most backstabbers live in constant fear of being exposed and do not like to be confronted. Once they are confronted, they will resort to covering up their intentions. Don’t be deceived.

Once you talk to your peers, work on collecting facts jointly. Make sure you know what you’re talking about and look at the history to see if there is proof which you can refer to.

Schedule a meeting with your line manager and HR about your problem. This takes courage but it’s worth the effort.

“Silence isn’t always golden. Sometimes it is plain yellow”

Any sensible HR Manager will address the issue, unless they’re bribed or have a personal connection. Probably, your manager already knows what’s going on and needs more facts. A team effort helps HR cross-verify facts and make the right decision.

Peer pressure works wonders with freeloaders and backstabbers. You’ll be amazed at the results!

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