Many factors come into play when it comes to your happiness at work: the work itself, your salary, your work-life balance (or lack thereof), and so forth. But one of the most impactful factors is your relationship with your coworkers.
In a 2014 study, “Good relationships with colleagues” ranked second in a list of factors that matter most to employees. (Just in case you’re curious, “Appreciation for your work” was first.) But you can’t have good working relationships if you can’t trust your colleagues.
If you haven’t had the displeasure of having to work with toxic coworkers, then consider yourself lucky. Most of us have had to deal with at least one conniving colleague whose machinations could give GoT’s Littlefinger a run for his money. But these people are tricky—most of the time, you don’t know you can’t trust them until it’s too late.
The good news is, there are warning signs. These red flags can help you spot the colleague you shouldn’t trust.
Now don’t get me wrong—office gossip is totally normal and can be innocent fun if it’s between close friends. But if your colleague can’t seem to have a conversation without dishing up the dirt on one of your coworkers, you can probably count on him doing the same to you when you’re not in the room.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you catch your colleague lying—even about seemingly harmless things—then you probably shouldn’t count on her to have your back. When the going gets tough, you need someone honest and dependable, not someone who’s going to make a dumb excuse just to get out of a deadline.
There’s nothing wrong with getting constructive criticism. In fact, you should welcome it. But if your coworker makes a scene over something that they could’ve brought up with you privately, they could be trying to make you look incompetent—to their benefit.
If your coworker is obsessed with being your boss’s favourite, she won’t be happy if you do anything to win your boss’s favour. In fact, if she’s really determined to ingratiate herself with your managers, then she may very well throw you under the bus to make herself look better.
There’s a difference between being proud of one’s work and simply taking the credit for someone else’s work. Of course, we’re talking about the latter. Your colleague might make it seem like they single-handedly achieved something when it was a group effort. Or he could take credit for something that he didn’t actually have anything to do with.
When the sh*t hits the fan, what does your coworker prioritise: finding a solution, or pointing fingers? If placing blame seems to be on the top of her list, that’s a sure sign that you shouldn’t trust that person.
Having the drive to succeed is an admirable trait, but some people can go overboard, and draw no boundaries when it comes to their professional success. Their Screw morality and ethics, whatever works for their career, right? Viewing absolutely anything as a means to an end is a slippery slope.
Having awareness of these toxic behaviours is a good way to protect yourself from being manipulated and undermined by toxic coworkers. But that doesn’t mean you should become distrustful.
Being overly suspicious could rob you of fulfilling relationships that could last a lifetime. Be careful who you trust, but don’t be paranoid.
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