5 Signs You Are Working With A Toxic Work Partner
Toxic people can be disguised as friends.
Disclaimer: every experience is different and the signs included in this article are based on my experience. You should not use my article as a guide on whether or not you are working with a toxic partner. I strongly suggest looking at other sources first as well as consulting with others before making any assumptions.
Toxicity is difficult to identify. The signs can be subtle, and to make matters worse, we tend to ignore these signs when we first notice them. When my best friend and I started working on our start-up, I had no idea that he would be toxic. He was my best friend, and I naturally trusted him. However, this bias I had would cloud my judgement and when I finally realized his behaviour was toxic, it was too late and the damage was done.
5. Being around toxic people drains your energy
Being around toxic people makes you feel exhausted. Just talking to them or being around them every day can be physically and mentally tiring. During summer break, I wanted to use this time to relax and pick up a new skill. However, I never got around to doing that because my friend was constantly messaging me about our start-up. We would video call and work together every night. During those calls, we would aim to meet the meeting objectives. I didn’t think we were in a rush, but he was always commenting on how we had to get everything done during the calls. This really put a strain on me and I would wake up the next morning only to dread what would come later that day.
4. Toxic people cause you stress.
Experiencing toxicity will cause you to feel an immense amount of stress. While working on my start-up, it was clear that it was very important to my best friend. He was serious about making it into a business, and I wanted to help him since we came up with the idea together. Instead, that passion I had disappeared and on top of that, I felt depressed and stressed. Whenever I didn’t reply to his text, he would proceed to email, call, video call, and spam non-stop on every platform I was on. This was when I realized that this was not healthy behaviour and I needed to do something about it.
3. Toxic people don’t treat you like a person
More often than not, toxic people completely disregard the fact we are all humans with our own lives. During the meetings, my friend and I would give each other feedback and suggestions on what we could improve on. He would sometimes make a rude comment, but I ignored it since it didn’t happen that often. However, as we continued to work together, these comments became more frequent and unpleasant. They would also come out of nowhere. We would be talking about our day when all of a sudden, he’d say, “because you’re stupid” and then continue on as if he never insulted me.
2. They point out every little mistake you do.
Treat others as you want to be treated is an important rule that toxic people ignore. Toxic people won’t show any appreciation or gratitude towards others. They will always point out your shortcomings making you feel like a failure. While preparing for a community pitch competition, my friend and I would practice our parts in front of each other. I would stutter a few times and stumble over that odd word. After all, stumbling is normal when practicing. Unfortunately, not to my friend. He would point out my mistakes and chew me out while making a big deal out of it. However, he would make those same mistakes and I, of course, pointed them out. He didn’t show much appreciation about it. This didn’t happen during one occasion, this happened every time. It made me feel undervalued and I started to notice that his behaviour was affecting me negatively. After every meeting, I would feel horrible about myself.
1. They make you feel miserable.
Being around toxic people makes you feel stuck and powerless. I noticed that my mindset was not where I wanted it to be. I was like a ball of stress and anxiety. Because of my friend, I was receiving constant reminders about work and on top of that, rude and disrespectful comments. It was a complicated mess that I did not want to be a part of. I tried really hard to talk to him about the issues I had, but he would brush me off and make an excuse so he wouldn’t listen to me. My friend knew how much this start-up meant a lot to me and that I would stay to work with him. Unfortunately, every time I would mention that I wouldn’t work with him, he would laugh it off as a joke.
What did I do about my situation?
After a long time, I finally got the chance to have a serious 1on1 chat with him. During that call, I told him how I felt and that if he wants me to continue working with him on the start-up, he had to start treating me like a person or else I would leave.
I will never forget his reaction. He just laughed and told me, “go ahead and leave. I was thinking about replacing you. You know, I can always find more experienced people than you.” I left the call feeling devastated and immediately started crying. I felt frustrated and disappointed at myself for not noticing these signs. From this experience, I not only lost a friend but my sense of self-love.
Here’s some advice…
If you relate to any of the signs I mentioned above, I recommend you follow any of these:
- Talk to someone and ask for advice. Reach out for support from friends and family. There will be someone who will be there for you. For me, my family helped me sort out my problems and offered really good advice.
- Talk to a therapist. Depending on the severity of the situation, I suggest you go talk to a therapist. Keep in mind that therapy is not for everyone and you may need to talk to more than one therapist before you find the perfect one.
- Try to talk to the toxic person. I don’t recommend this based on my experience, but you can try. If they don’t want to listen to you after asking them more than two times, you are wasting your time. I strongly suggest you shouldn't be around that person anymore.
Thank you so much for reading my article! I hope this was helpful.
Angelina Lim is a 17-year-old innovator at TKS (The Knowledge Society). She is passionate about social change and helping others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.