Asian man laughing in front of a laptop

You would think that the current home-based setup would keep you far away from poor teammates. Unfortunately, a toxic person at work will be a challenge whether they’re in front of you or behind a screen. In fact, the latter may be more challenging because they can easily leave the call just to be complicated. Don’t worry about it. Keep your cool and stay professional even when others aren’t. Here are a few tips on managing a tense work environment.

Control What You Can

Based on a 2018 Harvard Business School study, avoiding a toxic hire can save a business as much as $12,500 (about P630,000) annually as they tend to pull down morale, cooperation, and productivity. On the contrary, a positive employee can bring in over $5,300 (almost P270,000) in profits. Who would you rather be?

You don’t have to waste your energy ranting about your co-worker and wishing they were team players. Be proactive in what you can do: think positively, work harder, and keep the rest of the group’s energy up. If you’re in a leadership role, come up with concrete steps to achieve your goals. This establishes boundaries and expectations as well as helps everyone, especially toxic people, stay focused and accountable. 

Come Up With Your Coping Mechanisms

Always find time for a little self-care. 

The Human Resource Management Department at Nottingham University Business School defines toxicity in the workplace as a culture where “workers are exposed to psychosocial hazards.” Employees feel a lack of organizational support, autonomy, and security. According to research from Villanova University, toxic behavior can quickly spread into a culture. It’s so contagious that it can even reach your home—which isn’t exactly encouraging in a work-from-home setting where professional and personal lives are blurred. 

If you want to stick with your job for whatever reason, you need to develop ways to handle the stress. Some coping mechanisms to try:

Establish stricter boundaries. 

Turn off your work notifications during personal time. Follow rigid office hours. Also, know when to remove yourself from a tense situation and take a few minutes to chill out. This way you can appear controlled and professional during your video call meeting.

Employ a default mantra.  

Take a deep breath and focus. It doesn’t have to be anything profound. It can be as simple as muttering “I can do this!” over and over until you gather your bearings. As you recite the words, you can also picture something calming, like the beach or your family.

Fall back on a fun outlet. 

Whether it’s a video game, CrossFit or another type of workout plan, Netflix, find a place where you can unleash your frustrations in an emotionally and mentally productive way. Remember to squeeze in a bit of self-care in your schedule.

Deflect High Pressure With Humor

Keeping the mood light and positive will counter any negativity from toxic colleagues.

When used right, humor is both an effective offense and defense. It can relay honesty without being too blunt and it can defuse a high-tense situation. Laughing can help keep a light atmosphere and inspire positivity. 

Clench your teeth and smile with closeup All Around Fresh Toothpaste. It has zinc, silica, and fluoride to make you confident of your smile on- or off-screen. What’s more, the Cool Mint flavor has peppermint, which is known for its calming and relaxing effects. According to a 2014 study in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, peppermint even boosts exercise performance.

The Soothing Menthol, on the other hand, comes with spearmint. Not only does spearmint combat bacteria (based on research published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies and Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine), it also reduces anxiety and improves sleep. 

Talk to Your Colleague Directly

Every job role comes with specific functions and responsibilities. If your toxic coworker is shirking from theirs, then it’s not improper to remind them of such expectations. You’re a team and you all have to fulfill the same goals, after all. This is not a time for finger-pointing and confrontations. Make sure to sound conciliatory and encouraging. Be warm and open. You never know if your colleague is going through something. 

Whether online or offline, you’ll meet a toxic person at some point in your professional career. Don’t let them get to you. Grin and bear it with our tips.