15 Toxic Traits to Look Out for at Work

15 Toxic Traits to Look Out for at Work

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1. Gaslighting

Gaslighters are the worst? Gaslighting has become a pretty buzzy word, but it's only because it happens all the time. It's when someone tries to convince you that you're overreacting, that you misremembered something they said, or (and this is favorite!) that you're simply too emotional. You need to calm down! Psychology 

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1. Gaslighting

Today describes gaslighting as “a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.” Gaslighters manipulate to gain control over you. Once you begin doubting your own instincts, you’re more likely to believe whatever you’re told, starting a vicious cycle of manipulation, denial, and more manipulation.

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2. Takers

Takers take. That's what they do. On the surface, a taker might be charming and charismatic, which is exactly how they get away with being a taker in the first place! A taker, for example, might shoot you a quick email to ask if you could help "finish up" something for them. Once you agree, you might find that you have to do all the work, but you 

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2. Takers

proceed anyway. In the end, though, can you guess who takes the credit for a job well done? Yep, the work Grinch takes all.

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3. Victims

Some folks at work do get a raw deal. Ask any woman of color who is navigating the impossible workplace maze of intersectionalism.  When we are talking about toxic victims, we are not talking about these folks. Instead, we're talking about the person who, instead of owning a mistake or challenge, will proceed into a histrionic state.

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3. Victims

Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal With Dysfunctional People on the Job details a few toxic behaviors that manifest as victimhood or just plain dramatic.  These behaviors include histrionic, borderline (moody, angry, with intense and combustible relationships), and passive-aggressive.

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4. Blamers

We've talked about the "blame game boss" before and it's a doozy! Your workplace blamers are always closest to the smoke, yet they never take any responsibility for the fire. In fact, they are all too willing to throw anybody else onto the flame. Okay, enough with the fire metaphors. You know who we're talking about here.

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5. Your "BFF" (For Ever + Ever + Ever)

This is the lesson I keep learning. Your BFF is the first person to arrive at your desk on the first day of work. Hey, they might even have a gift in hand! "Wow, this is the nicest person I've ever met!" Except, they might not be. I'm not a psychologist, so I'm not sure if every "BFF" I've ever met shares the same type of toxic trait. Also, sometimes you really 

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5. Your "BFF" (For Ever + Ever + Ever)

do meet your closest friends at work. Just be wary.

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6. Gossips

Gossips destroy the workplace. We talk a lot about toxic workplaces. At the core of so many toxic workplaces, or festering around the core, is gossip.  We don't need to go too much into this, because you already know what gossip looks like.

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7. Arrogance

Be honest. When you saw arrogance listed as a toxic trait, did a specific face pop into your head? Yeah, me too. Arrogance is tricky at work because... arrogant people seem to ascend the ladder quickly. Like many other toxic traits, hubris is contagious. If an arrogant leader trains an arrogant team, there's suddenly a workplace full of arrogant people.

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8. Disrespectful

Sometimes we call this toxic trait by other names. For example, we might write disrespect off as the "culture" of an office or even an entire industry. Okay, while that's a really cool good old boy's club notion, there are literally hundreds of studies that show the importance (and success!) of teamwork, empathy, inclusion, 

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8. Disrespectful

honesty, and respect in the workplace. It's what makes an organization thrive.

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9. Bigotry

It comes in all shapes and sizes, so it can be hard to identify at times. However, if you suspect a particular person is a bigot, you're probably right on target. At work, bigotry usually gets coupled with another favorite toxic trait we explored earlier, gaslighting! If you try to call it out, you're met with all the gaslighting hits, "Relax!", "Don't be so serious 

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9. Bigotry

all the time?", or "Lighten up, it's a joke!" Nah.

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10. Absolutely Apathetic

Apathy is a toxic trait in its contagiousness. Apathy at work tends to present as a lack of motivation, which is usually caused by a sense that your work doesn’t matter, that you’re replaceable, or that nothing you do matters. Imagine, for example, that your boss is completely apathetic. Are you really going to feel motivated to do a great job

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10. Absolutely Apathetic

for someone who is so checked out?

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11. Entitlement

Employee entitlement is defined as “an excessive self-regard of one’s abilities at work linked to a belief in the right to privileged treatment without consideration of all the factors involved in determining rewards and remuneration in that context” Those with a sense of entitlement believe, quite simply, that they are owed 

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11. Entitlement

certain things. While the reasons for entitlement vary, the behavior is reflective of a child. When they don't get what they "deserve", watch out.

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12. Dishonesty

Dishonesty comes in many forms. We're not necessarily talking about a coworker who takes extra staples home. We're talking about someone who is deceitful in weird, sneaky ways. At times, the most dishonest folks are also master manipulators.  They do things that seem snakelike, but they have you asking yourself, "Wait, is this 

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12. Dishonesty

really happening?" Dishonesty can manifest in these ways at work: – Taking credit for someone else's work – Delegating all of your work (like 100% of your work) – Taking advantage of a coworker's help – Good old theft – Displaced blame for a mistake – Hearsay or inaccurate gossip

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13. Judgmental

Raise your hand if you've ever been judgmental at work. If you didn't raise your hand, you better go back to toxic trait number twelve. We're human and we're always judging at some level. However, when a judgmental attitude goes deeper, it gets ugly. A judgmental coworker might like to nitpick your work, make passive-aggressive 

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13. Judgmental

comments, and generally cast a pessimistic sheen over everything. If the judgment is being directed at you, it hurts and undermines your confidence in yourself and your work.

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14. Jealous

One of the seven deadly sins is jealousy—and for good reason. Jealousy at work really serves nobody, least of all the person who is spending their valuable time and energy focusing on someone else's work or progress. We experience jealousy as a pretty honest part of being human. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to 

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14. Jealous

others—in domains like attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success. If someone is directing a more toxified jealousy at work toward you, look out for these common warning signs: – Heightened attention to your mistakes of flubs – Public call outs – Passive-aggressive comments, especially in 

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14. Jealous

relation to merit – Shooting down your ideas (seemingly only because they came from you) – Curt communication or avoidance

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15. Vampiric

If you've found yourself contemplating a wooden Crucifix purchase, you probably have an energy vampire at work.  The energy vampire will be waiting at your desk (or in your Slack messages) as soon as you get to work. By 10 am, you are tired—and you haven't even started your actual work. Energy 

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15. Vampiric

vampires tend to be a pu-pu platter of lots of the toxic traits we've already explored. Some common sub-traits of a vampire are: – Zero accountability – Drama – Victimhood – Gaslighting – Codependency – Intimidation Energy vampires are sort of 

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15. Vampiric

like toddlers. They demand everything and they're usually not even that cute.

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