Just when you think backstabbing coworkers are the worst you have to fear – you run into the toxic, tyrannical, and even treacherous types. Yikes!
You know who I am talking about. It’s the empire builders, the eternally unhappy, the power-hungry, or someone out gunning for your position. They have an agenda, and helping you isn’t on it.
I cover how to handle backstabbers in a previous blog (Handling the two-faced foe), but I neglected to dive deeper. So here’s how to tackle these nightmare coworkers with a few #protips (or Jedi Mind Tricks) for everyone to use.
Eternally Unhappy. Negative Nancy’s. Debbie Downer. Call them what you may, they are the toxic people that are always miserable, and their goal in life is to bring you down with them. They are addicted to their misery, and they will suck the life force right out of you (or at least that’s how they make you feel)!
I once had a coworker tell me how I would NEVER be able to leave Indiana/Eli Lilly. Also, how I would NEVER be able to move into the finance organization or anywhere else for that matter. These toxic people love to project their issues onto your life.
And dealing with them is the worst. You walk into a meeting and see Mike from Finance (or just the thought of it), and you instantly tense up, your stomach twists into a knot, or dread hits you like a sledgehammer.
You see your boss Cheryl, and you instantly brace yourself to hear what stupid mistakes you made, listen to her reject all your ideas and then remind you how you’ll never be anything. All of which makes you feel like a battered spouse.
The worst isn’t when a toxic person is a coworker or friend. It’s when you figure out that they are a boss or superior, that can alter your career. Because we all know coworkers, you can walk away from or ignore, but not so much for someone who has authority or power over you.
So what can you do when your toxic boss tells you that you’re going to fail in having your new position or industry? (Because they’ve been down that road and have been unsuccessful)? Well, get ready because I have a few Jedi-mind tricks for you!
Jedi Mind Trick One – Listen, nod, and say nothing in return (or an “okay”), then walk away.
Whatever you do, remind yourself not to get upset, it will only add fuel to the fire. Because that’s the exact reaction they are looking for, you to be upset, angry, and confused.
Jedi Mind Trick Two – Use it as fuel.
Remind yourself and them – you are two different people. Just because it didn’t work for them, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Stay strong in your direction and use it as fuel to prove them wrong!
Jedi Mind Trick Three – Be overly sympathetic.
Lend an ear and realize that envy is driving this reaction to what you are doing. If you can get them to talk about it, it will take the focus off of you and they’ll forget all about being an a-hole to you.
There may be some people who are laser-focused, trying to take you out. They want your job because they KNOW (*think) that they can do it better and have more experience or they just don’t like you. These are some of the worst types of toxic people because they are so similar to the two-faced foe.
They will befriend you, find out your weaknesses, and do everything in their power to exploit them to those who matter most. Not only that, but they also befriend everyone else too and try to play both sides of the fences. They will pretend to be your BFF (besties!), but it’s only a ploy to gain personal information.
These toxic people will also take credit for your work (with no remorse) and likes to broadcast your screw-ups. So you have to be extra careful in finding them out and quickly!
Jedi Mind Trick Four – Pay close attention to the questions they ask you.
Turns out, the more personal screw-up that can paint you in a bad light, the more they want to hear it. So be VERY careful about what personal information you share with coworkers—especially the ones who try to befriend you outside of work.
Jedi Mind Trick Five – Control the conversation, and make sure they do more talking than you.
I don’t care if you have to go out with a list of pre-planned general topics, know what you can say to deflect their questions quickly, and get them to talk instead. This limits the personal information you are giving away.
Empire Builder or Power-hungry. These toxic people are working their way to be CFO in the next five years and need to build their legacy to get there. They make Brutus’ murder look like child’s play. They’ll also micromanage you to death.
When it comes to these types – they are unrivaled. They are the ones who do it without you realizing it, and get away with it for longer than you could ever imagine. They’ve got an agenda, plan in place, and you’re just a pawn. So you must be extremely careful when working with them.
You see – it’s easy to spot Jared who will step on your head to try and get ahead of everyone. So it takes a little bit more time to understand the relationship dynamics and politics to know who might be sending you to the guillotine to ensure their success. They do it with such finesse, you are actually impressed.
Most of the time these are toxic people at the Executive level. They’ve perfected their craft and how to get away with it. But there are always those new and upcoming people to be on the look-out for. And that’s why they are the toxic people who are the most dangerous.
I once had a boss who would fire someone once a month, just to execute their power. It was a horrible situation, and it left the entire department scared and miserable. So what Jedi mind tricks can be used with these types of power-hungry toxic people?
Jedi Mind Trick Six – Overwhelm them with details and information.
It’s this simple – if they have too much to process, trying to micromanage or manipulate you becomes that much harder. Keep them busy. VERY busy.
Jedi Mind Trick Seven – Figure out their agenda and help to further it.
I know what you are thinking, now I’m the a-hole. But think about it for a minute. If they believe you support them and are doing everything in your power to further their agenda, they are a hell of a lot less likely to crap on you when you are doing so.
Jedi Mind Trick Eight – Get the heck out of dodge.
Sometimes it’s just best to leave a toxic situation. No matter the repercussions.
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