Bad Apples at Workplace Can Spoil Teams

Suppose you join a company and find that you are lucky to be surrounded by the best people, policies, working hours, all forms of recreation, and work. You’ll thank your stars every second, isn’t it? But to your dismay, you end up realizing that life at work is no longer rosy after a few months only because of some negative people at work, then what you got to do? Thinking? So, what comes to your mind; leaving your job or changing your team? The others would think they might face the situation. Hang on; it is not as easy as you think. When co-workers tend to get into that mode of being “not-so-easy” at workplace, then workplace may even become a nightmare. You elude people at work, uninterested in work, no friends at office; stop mingling with your team members, and so on. Continue reading if you face any of the above issues..

1. Rise from the Ashes

There is a path of redemption for you, if you thought there isn’t, if you’ve landed yourself among the not-so-good co-worker (s). If your job demands working in a team and you have found yourself in a place where you feel weird because your work is being undermined, then read on.
If you thought that you’ll work with amazing people whom you’ll call them as friends, but now you curse yourself for accepting the offer letter of the company where you’re working, and then hold on — you may be fantasizing. There is no place called as a ‘perfect place to work’. Difficult, not-so-easy, and different co-workers exist everywhere. If you feel uncomfortable, co-worker (s) behavior towards you is objectionable, and you find excuses to avoid your team member (s) and the situation has reached a point where you avoid going to office, or a fleeting thought of leaving your current job is on the verge of becoming an indelible plan, then act on the following:

  1. Don’t think only about yourself.
  2. Act as an impartial judge.
  3. Analyze the verbal/non-verbal communication, situation, behavior because of which you were unhappy at work.
  4. List down your good and bad qualities and the person with whom you’re facing problems and then understand who is at fault.
  5. If you’re unable to do a fair analysis, you should write all the points before speaking with your manager, and then make sure that you set up a one-on-one meeting with him/her.

Also, if you see that your manager discourages you or doesn’t seem to discuss your problem, seek help from Human Resources department in your office.

2.  Goliath is Vincible

Is your work  getting hampered in addition to being hurt? If yes, you’re getting bullied at work. Don’t get bullied at any cost. Don’t assume that if your co-worker’s tenure in the company has been more than yours, then he/she is capable of intimidating, insulting, disparaging, and mocking at you. If the communication between you and your co-worker is within the realms of the behavior prescribed by your company’s guidelines, then enjoy. If not, start thinking about what is going wrong, with whom, and for what. Keep a log of the incident. Maintain a log of the date, time, details of what happened, who else witnessed the incident, and frequency of such incident. If others cringe in fear, you don’t waver. You need to make sure that action needs to be taken immediately.

3.  Shun That Negativity

Some people at work always ooze out negativity. Sometimes, they talk about  people, sometimes  about the company policies; they crib and make others think in a negative tone. They think that except them all others are treated well. They assume their managers are partial to them and all others at work always spread rumors about these negative people.
So, now you must be wondering how should you deal with such negative people, right? First try to separate wheat from chaff. Understand whether such co-workers have licit reasons for their negativity. If you think they’re correct, ask them if they want you to help them in any way. Make sure you try to give your best advice. You need to also understand that there is a thin line between you acting as a peer and a counselor. You should always restrain yourself from being the counselor. You can direct such co-workers to the HR person, counseling sessions, relevant books, et al. If you find your co-worker’s conversation is always negative, make sure that you ask them to transition to affirmative topics. Negative people surely don’t get anything from you, so you shouldn’t get affected by their complaints. You are just a target. They want you to empathize with them, their situation, and their complaints.

4.  Conquer That Territory

If you are among a few co-workers who discourage you, disparage you, mock at you, then obviously you must be feeling hostile. For all the known reasons, you avoid interacting with them during meetings, events, or in a group. The only thing that keeps your mind occupied is that what if you are insulted in front of people. Don’t run away from a face-off because if you try to evade such people often, then you are ruining your health, relationships at work, attitude, and even your projects. The ideal situation would be to make a list of topics that you would want your co-worker to know. Make sure to break the ice and discuss things out and conquer that fear because of which you don’t want to enter the territory — their cubicles, lunch areas, meeting rooms, hangout place, and so on.
Never leave a company because of people because you might come across ‘not-so-easy’ people anywhere. There is no dearth of such people and if you thought workplace is a safe zone, you realized it’s not. The deal is to learn the trick in dealing with such people. Believe me, it’s not thaumaturgy. If you really want to bring in a positive change at work, try out some of the above preceding tricks.

About the Author: Farheen Viquas is a certified Technical Writer and currently working as a Senior Technical Editor at NetApp, Bangalore. She has earned a Master’s degree in English Literature from Bhopal School of Social Sciences and started her career in technical editing at Huawei, Bangalore. Besides working as a Technical Editor, she has worked as a   Technical Writer, Language Consultant, Information Tester, English Trainer, and Transcriber. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and listening to music. You can reach Farheen here.


  1. Kudos to Farheen for touching upon a topic most of us dare to write.

    Yes, bad apples at office create a lot of negativity. They can even affect your career prospects by secretly spying on you, reporting your work habits to senior management, offering freelance employee assessment to managers, and playing all kinds of dirty politics. Such bad apples monitor other employees’ details like time in and time out,number of coffee breaks, the social media used, sartorial sense, and even the job skills. These precious resources are interested in other’s shortcomings, instead of focussing on their own issues.

    The reason why such people survive in organizations is that certain managements encourage them as it gives the latter a certain amount of control and exclusive info. In the form of gossip, these unofficial spies share tidbits that causes enormous harm to other employees. Unless the organizations take effective steps, such people will continue to harm other people’s reputation and career.

  2. Good article with useful tips to handle difficult situations at work. Great job Farheen. Don’t put the pen down!

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