10 Types of Toxic Coworkers To Avoid if You Want To Protect Your Career

It may be time to remove yourself from the orbits of these toxic co-workers.
Updated Aug. 7, 2023
Person looking over cubicle

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How keen are you on the people you work with? It's probably safe to say that nearly every workplace has at least a few toxic people. Unfortunately, some offices have a lot more than that.

If you're surrounded by the following types of people, it may be time to switch jobs and find a positive environment that allows you to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck

At the very least, try to avoid these folks as much as you can.

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The Gossip

Scott Griessel/Adobe Person gossiping

You may find it entertaining to talk to the office gossip about the personal lives of your co-workers, or the dirty secrets in the office. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.

The office gossip will distract you from work and make you look unprofessional. And remember, that individual might also gossip about you.

So, steer clear and try to focus on the professional aspects of your office instead of getting swept up in the personal issues of the workers there. Plus, staying ahead of the mess can eliminate some money stress from fear that your boss finds out.

The Procrastinator

New Africa/Adobe Lazy office worker

We all procrastinate. Perhaps there is a job you don’t want to finish or a task you want to put off until later.

But some people turn procrastination into an art form. Don’t allow the office procrastinator to influence you so that you slow down your own work. Missing deadlines can be a career killer.

The Bulldozer

alfa27/Adobe People afraid of boss

You may have noticed a bulldozer in your meetings as someone who always wants to get the last word in. Outside of meetings, this person may be forceful in getting their way or making sure their voice is heard.

A bulldozer’s actions can steamroll your ideas or plans to the point where you can’t show off your own skills.

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The Micromanager

Meeko Media/Adobe Stress woman

It can be frustrating to try and accomplish something only to have the micromanager looking over your shoulder and picking apart every little thing.

Keep your micromanager in the loop and try to anticipate their questions and concerns so that you have answers for them. Doing so might get that micromanager off your back so you can finish your work.

The Complainer

motortion/Adobe Employee feeling tired listening

We all have things to complain about at work. But the office complainer is a negative Nancy who takes things to the next level and drags you down with a less-than-ideal attitude.

Try to counteract the complainer with some positive things you can highlight about workers or a particular project. A positive attitude can help you push forward so you are successful with your projects.

The Knowledge Squirrel

olly/Adobe Determined businessman

Most of us have known a co-worker who likes to squirrel away office knowledge and keep it stored like nuts for the winter.

See if there are other ways to get that information so you can avoid your toxic co-worker but still get the help you need.

The Martyr

Sathaporn/Adobe A business meeting

There may be one person in your office who just knows the place would fall apart without them.

It’s better to steer clear of the martyr. One wrong move or one bad step and they will tell others in the office that you’re the reason they can’t finish anything. 

The last thing you want is a reason to earn extra money because you end up losing your job based on a reputation.

The Soul Sucker

Elnur/Adobe Boss frustrated with employee

There is usually one person in the office who constantly complains and demands too much. Perhaps they incessantly whine about the boss or the job promotion they missed out on.

It can be exhausting to be the emotional support for a soul sucker. Do what you can to get away from them and focus on your work and goals.

The Guilt Tripper

Dragana Gordic/Adobe A financial advisor

You may have had a sibling who guilt-tripped you as a kid into going along with their plans or doing their chores.

The Guilt Tripper can still exist even when you’re an adult. They may try to manipulate you into doing work for them or ask you to lie to the boss about something to cover a mistake they made.

Don’t fall for it, and instead, do what you feel is right.

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The Liar

jes2uphoto/Adobe Frustrated employees

The liar can tell any number of fibs. Sometimes it’s little white lies here or there about why a deadline was missed or an email wasn’t sent. Other times it can be bigger untruths, such as blaming others for their specific failings.

Honestly is an important trait when you’re in an office and the truth is what’s needed. Remove yourself from the liar to protect your reputation in the office. 

Focusing on yourself and your job can help you better prepare financially for the future and avoid any troubling situations. 

Bottom line

deagreez/Adobe Three business people

If at all possible, try to steer clear of the toxic people in your office and avoid foolish mistakes such as falling into their web of misery.

Avoiding toxic people as much as possible can make your job more enjoyable and possibly even boost your career.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.