Have you ever worked in a toxic environment?
I’m not talking about asbestos in the ceiling panels or black mold in the air ducts, though that’s definitely enough to give you office syndrome.
No, I’m talking about working with toxic people.
You know, the people who are supposed to be on your team but instead act like they’re your enemies.
Sometimes, we have coworkers who are jealous, ultra-competitive, or just plain devious, and they’re out to get us, or at least sabotage our successes.
Well, if your coworker does these ten things, you probably can’t trust them any farther than you can throw them.
1) They’re an incorrigible gossip.
Some people just can’t get enough drama from their evenings at home watching Sex/Life on Netflix.
Nope, they have to bring that energy into the office.
OK, there are some people who gossip because they’re just totally into social dynamics and find who said what to whom fascinating.
But there are others who gossip for truly negative reasons.
They might be trying to stir up negativity against someone by talking trash, or they might be trying to climb up the social ladder by showing how much dirt they have on everyone.
But any way you slice it, a coworker like this is someone you simply can’t trust.
Not with important or personal information, anyway.
Chances are good that just as soon as you’ve told them anything, the whole office will know.
So keep your distance from a gossip, even if you like them.
2) They break your confidence.
Even worse than gossiping is breaking your confidence and sharing things they shouldn’t.
Gossiping is one thing, but if you tell someone something in secret and then they go and reveal it to others, it’s a flagrant breach of trust that you really shouldn’t have to tolerate.
And trust me, if they’ve done it once, they’ll do it again.
It doesn’t even have to be with you.
If another coworker tells you that this person has broken their confidence in such a way, steer clear.
There’s no good reason to think that they won’t do the same thing to you.
3) They lie.
It seems obvious that you can’t trust a colleague if you’ve ever caught them in a lie.
Some people think it has to be a lie related to work.
But if someone is able to lie about unrelated things, why would they draw the line at lying about things that have to do with work and their coworkers?
When I was in college, I had a great job at the library, where I got to work with all sorts of interesting people.
One day, Amanda came back from a skydiving holiday with her arm in a sling, and everyone was shocked. But she’d just slipped on some stairs and broken her wrist, and she hadn’t even gotten up in a plane.
Well, Shelley thought she had to top that story. “My friend went skydiving, and her chute didn’t open,” she relayed, “but she was OK because she landed on a haystack.”
No one knew what to say.
First of all, impossible. And second, haystacks?! Do people even stack hay anymore?
It was just such a ludicrous story and an obvious attempt to get attention.
It showed that she was willing to lie to all of us and probably to anyone else about anything at all.
Not to be trusted!
4) They try to manipulate you or your other colleagues.
Have you ever felt manipulated by a boss or a coworker?
They might have used guilt, shame, or other techniques to try to get you to do something for them or even take their side in a disagreement.
This happened to me with a coworker who had the same job as me.
He was really slow at writing reports, and it stressed him out all the time while I was easily making my deadlines.
So what he did was work on bringing me over to his side.
He tried to guilt me into thinking that by always getting my work done on time, it was making him look bad and risking his job. He essentially tried to make me feel it was my fault.
And he wanted me to join him in asking our supervisor for slacker deadlines.
This basically had nothing to do with me, and I knew it, but I was also young and easily influenced, so I went along with it.
And guess what – he told them it was my idea because it was me who was slow!
5) They shirk responsibilities.
When you share responsibilities as a team but one member isn’t pulling their weight, it can really create problems.
If the person can’t cut it, that’s one thing. But if they’re just doing it out of laziness, that’s entirely another.
Because, in general, teams will pick up a little slack here and there for members who are falling behind.
The thing is, people who are always behind because they don’t want to work hard can be sneaky and use this tendency to stick to their lazy habits.
If they can’t be trusted to fulfill their work responsibilities, can they be trusted with anything else?
6) They deflect blame onto others.
A person who will throw their coworkers under the bus is a person who can’t be trusted or relied on.
When there are problems with work, these people will either point immediately to other people’s failures or completely make things up and blame others for the things they did themselves.
One of my first-ever jobs was working in a gourmet cookie store, closing a couple of nights a week.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
But I actually remember it as the worst job I ever had.
That was because I always worked alone on the closing shifts, and I never even met any of the daytime staff.
I think it was this anonymity that allowed them to constantly blame me for any mistake that ever happened, especially messed up orders that were supposed to go out in the morning.
I’m sure I made a few mistakes, but I’m equally sure I didn’t make ALL the mistakes I was blamed for and then actually fired for!
But don’t cry for me – I was more than happy to get out of that toxic work environment.
And the cookies weren’t all that good anyway.
7) They don’t share critical information.
Do you know a person like this?
They get in some important information like the latest sales figures, and they sit on them.
Maybe not literally, but they intentionally don’t tell anyone else, at least not until they’re directly asked for them.
These are people who know that knowledge is power, and they’re trying to amass power by keeping knowledge to themselves.
And they’re usually perfectly happy to let others mess up or waste time just to give themselves the upper hand.
8) They take all the credit.
When things go wrong, these untrustworthy colleagues are nowhere to be seen.
But when things go right, they’re suddenly front and center, taking up much more than their fair share of the spotlight.
If you have colleagues who take way more credit than they’re due, it’s likely because they feel desperate for praise or possibly because they feel like they’re on thin ice due to poor performance.
Either way, it’s a crafty way to make themselves look good while taking focus off others they might feel they’re competing with.
This is simply dishonest behavior and lets you know they’re not people you can trust.
9) They steal from your employer.
Stealing is a big deal – an astounding 95% of businesses are affected by theft, and 75% of employees admit to having stolen from their employers.
That’s most of us.
Some people, though, get in a whole lot deeper by actually taking cash or valuable equipment from their employers. They even cover their tracks with fake purchase orders or bill fake expenses.
And maybe they work for massive, faceless corporations that won’t get hurt, but that’s not the point.
The point is that if they’re willing to engage in this deceptive, fraudulent behavior, they’re probably not the kind of person to put your trust in.
10) They steal food from the break room.
This is really beyond the pale.
Stealing from a wealthy corporation is one thing, but stealing from your colleagues? Literally, taking the food right out of their mouths?
That’s really low.
And it creates a terrible atmosphere of distrust that can sour all the relationships in your workplace.
It makes you want to hide an explosive dye pack in your bananas, doesn’t it?
Untrustworthy coworkers suck
Coworkers who lie, cheat, steal, and gossip are people you simply shouldn’t be putting your trust in.
If you have to continue working with these people, keep them at arm’s length to protect yourself from being disappointed and hurt.