For many, your job is more than just a box that needs to be checked to make a living, it’s a big part of your life. Your job can have a huge effect on the quality of your life, a poorly paid job can mean that you have less disposable income in your free time, yet a well-paid job that you despise can be every bit as damaging. For better or for worse, we spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our friends and families, thus, it’s no surprise that we should want to form meaningful friendships with those around us. There are some people, however, who can be toxic and damaging to your career even though you may really like them personally. Either intentionally or unintentionally, their behavior can at best distract you from your daily duties and at worst impede your chances of progression and promotion.
This is a particular dilemma for those who are just starting a new job or are in the early stages of their career. The temptation to ingratiate yourself to your colleagues at any cost cannot be underestimated. Nonetheless, whether you’re new to your job or not, these are the people of whom you should keep a wide berth for the sake of your career.
Workplaces are a social petri dish and while politics are inevitable in large groups of people, there’s really no room for gossip in the workplace. At the very least, gossip reduces productivity but it can have far more damaging consequences. It can lead to arguments that can sour the workplace atmosphere and make your workplace an oppressive environment. If Human Resources becomes involved it can place a drain on HR services. If left unchecked, gossip can become increasingly malicious resulting in a social powder keg that will be damaging to all concerned when it blows up.
Keep your conversations friendly and affable but work-related.
We all know delegators. They have a finger in every pie and always have an eye on what everyone else is doing, yet never seem to be doing any actual work themselves. They constantly bemoan the low productivity, yet their desk tends to be spotless. Delegators are often charming and charismatic and well liked by more or less everyone. In fact, they’re so charming that most of us don’t keep track of the number of favors we’re doing them. They cast their net far and wide, siphoning off their work to other people.
There was a time when flirting in the workplace was limited to fluttering eyelashes from opposite ends of the desk. Now, most workplace flirting is done in digital realms. While flirting has never been acceptable in the workplace, engaging in cyber flirting can land you in a whole heap of trouble. The sending of inappropriate messages over email, business communication apps like Slack or even through Facebook can have serious consequences for dismissal to the collapse of relationships. The last thing you need is for salacious messages to be used against you in a disciplinary hearing.
Keeping your personal interactions civil yet professional, friendly yet appropriate is the best way to prevent these toxic colleagues from damaging your career.