How to Cope With Negative Coworkers

Don’t let negative coworkers sap your strength and drain your energy. These tips for coping with toxic, negative coworkers will help you stay strong, healthy, and happy.

coping with negative coworkersIn Energy Vampires: How to Deal With Negative People, Jennifer O’Neill describes what to do if you if you are surrounded by negative people and how to deal with toxic people – whether they’re coworkers, family members, or even partners.

The most important thing to remember about coping with negative coworkers is that you have the power to change how you respond. “From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life,” says Anais Nin. “You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead.”

Coping With Negative Coworkers Who Drain Your Energy

Here are some suggestions for not giving negativity power over your life. For more tips for successful careerwomen, read See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work by Lois Frankel. And, read on for ways to cope with negative coworkers who drain your energy…

Limit your time alone with negative or toxic coworkers

This one of the most important ways to cope with people who drain your energy: put as much space between you and them as possible. Both physical and emotional space counts! This means not sitting next to them at meetings, not carpooling with them, and not having lunch with them. Set time limits – and learn how to say no without feeling guilty.

Spend time with coworkers who fill you with energy

Right after you spend time with a coworker who drains your energy, seek someone who fills you back up again. Maybe you need to make a quick phone call to a friend or family member, or walk down the hall to a colleague’s office. Coping with negative coworkers is much easier when you deliberately and immediately “fill the gap” they left.

Pick specific times for meetings with negative or toxic coworkers

Avoid getting caught up in impromptu meetings, which you aren’t emotionally or professionally prepared for. Instead, be deliberate about setting meeting times. You could either get the meeting over with first thing in the morning (and possibly feel drained the rest of the day), or meet with your negative coworker at the end of the day (and go home feeling drained). Obviously, there’s no perfect solution – but setting a specific time gives you time to prepare.

Prepare for meetings


Of course you want to be professionally prepared – but you also want to be emotionally ready to cope with negative coworkers who drain your energy. This means pumping yourself up before the meeting. Take five or ten minutes to chat with a positive person, look at pictures of your last vacation, child, or pet, or visualize your favorite place in the world. (And, if you tend to procrastinate when preparing for meetings, you might find 7 Ways to Overcome Procrastination at Work – Sarah Ban Breathnach helpful!).

If you have introverted personality traits, read Best Jobs for Introverts and Quiet People.

Try not to misread a negative coworker’s words or actions

“Women frequently misread neutral cues as being negative or critical,” writes Lois Frankel in See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work. She says most women have strong emotional intelligence and social awareness overall, but they aren’t always accurate in their interpretations. So, be careful not to project your own feelings onto a coworker. For example, if you always feel criticized about an aspect of your job performance, you might want to check your own feelings about your performance.

One last quotation from a successful woman (well she was at one time, anyway — not sure if she still is now): “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power,” says Roseanne Barr. “You just take it.”

If you’re ready to quit your job, read 10 High Paying Jobs for College Students. The list isn’t just for students – anyone can work at a high paying part time job while searching for a new career!

What have I missed? I welcome your thoughts and questions about coping with negative coworkers who drain your energy below…

If you’re thinking about quitting your job, read How to Successfully Change Careers.


We share ideas to encourage women over 40 to make positive changes and Blossom in a new season of life!

1 comments On How to Cope With Negative Coworkers

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    Thanks for the article ideas — they’re great! Isn’t it funny how once you get the ball rolling, the ideas for blog posts and articles just keep coming in? It just sort of builds on itself.

    And of course, I LOVE when readers ask for more info on particular topics.

    Regarding coping with negative coworkers who drain your energy: I think it’s also crucial to be in a job you enjoy or even love. If you hate your job, you’ll have a much harder time dealing with negative people.

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