Sunday, 25 November 2018

Toxicity Be Gone: Toxic Acquaintances and Co-Workers

My apologies for the delay in writing this post - we welcomed another little one to our family in October and while I was pregnant I didn't have the energy to post anything (it was quite the challenging pregnancy on the "let's-try-to-be-functional" front, but more on that later). I'm back, though, and ready to pick right up where we left off. Now, where were we...ah yes, toxic acquaintances and co-workers.

Let's start with toxic acquaintances. In many ways, this category of toxic people are the easiest to deal with: keep your distance and make sure these individuals remain acquaintances. Sometimes toxic people will try to charm you to one-up their position from 'acquaintance' to 'friend' in your social circle, but NO. Don't be fooled. Keep your guard up and shut that down otherwise you will likely be their next victim. As someone once told me, "You give them an inch, they'll take a foot." Well, truer words have never been said regarding toxic individuals; If you let them get even a toe in your doorway, they will blow the door right off its hinges leaving you to pick up the pieces while they wreck and potentially steal everything in your house - including the fractured pieces of the door they busted open. These people are sneaky so be wise with who you let into your more intimate circle of friends. You don't need someone who drains your energy, makes you feel shitty, and takes but never gives as a 'friend' (because they are anything but) so keep these people at arm's length and stay alert. The good thing about this group is that because they are on the periphery of your social circle, there is no real sense of loyalty or obligation from your end to keep in contact with them at all. If you observe they are toxic and you don't want to deal with that shit, then demote them from acquaintance to stranger with a "Good riddance" or a "Goodbye, see you never." Wash your hands of the toxicity before it even has time to seep into your life.

Toxic co-workers are harder to cut off because unless you quit your job or they get fired you're stuck with them (and generally need to see them on a regular basis). It's even more complicated when the toxic person happens to be your boss or some other sort of superior, but basically the strategy for dealing with said person is the same. So what do you do? Well, like I said, the same things apply as above: keep your distance - you don't need to be friends everyone at work and you don't need to feel bad about it. You do, however, need to remain civil with them because you don't want to contribute to a toxic work environment either; It's about being mature and professional, but wise at the same time. Also, try not to get involve in any gossip or smack-talk either because that is toxic in and of itself, plus it's not professional, it's just mean. You aren't responsible for anyone's actions but yours, so just keep doing your own thing without any regard to what that other person does. Do your job as best you can, clock in your hours, then leave that toxic person behind when your head home. They are not your problem. It can also be helpful to limit interactions with said person if at all possible (i.e. get your drink later if you see they are at the water cooler), but if you do have to interact with them then limit the interactions: don't chit-chat, get your shit done with them, and leave. Oh and remember, you don't need to see or interact with said toxic person outside of the office if you don't want to (and who wants to be around a toxic person when they don't have to?). If they ask you to hang out or go for dinner or whatever, you say "No thanks!" but if you have no other choice make sure you are with them in a group setting so there are distractors present and other people (non-toxic people) to interact with - no need to potentially create opportunities for toxicity to seep into your space.

Basically when it comes to toxic acquaintances and co-workers, maintain your distance because you deserve better. Don't let them in and don't feel bad about it; It's not your fault they are toxic and their toxicity is not your problem, but you are responsible for how you respond to them. Remember, you can be friendly with people without being friends with them and you can take the high road and keep being your friendly self even if they don't like you - they are not your friends and you don't want toxic friends anyway so who cares whether or not they like you. Unfortunately, sometimes you're not able to identify a toxic person until they have already crossed that barrier and are in the "friend zone." Ahh toxic friends. I have much more to write on this but I'll stop here because this topic really needs it's own post. Stay tuned...

Read the other posts in this series:
Toxicity Be Gone: An Introduction to Toxic People
Toxicity Be Gone: Toxic Friends
Toxicity Be Gone: Toxic Family Members

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