Skip to content

Toxic people are the energy vampires of organizations

By Michelle Post; graphic by Krysta Parr

Are there toxic people in your workplace? You know the type – the ones who never have a good thing to say, who complain about anything and everything, who love to be miserable? I am sure you do, for it has been my experience they are in every organization.

Toxic people, energy vampires, or oxygen bandits – just to give them a few names – suck the life out of a room and an individual if you let them. And I emphasize if you let them. Giving toxic people time and energy is a waste of both precious gifts. Engaging with a toxic person can affect your mood, your work and other relationships, which could include your family and friends.

There are many types of toxic people in an organization: the gossiper, the backstabber, the know-it-all, the procrastinator, the martyr, the bully, the manipulator and the narcissist. I am sure there are other types, too. And the truth is, all organizations have these, even if you are a solopreneur. Truth be told, some of these toxic people exist in our relationships with family and friends.

But there is hope for dealing with toxic people. First, identify who they are in your organization. Then, limit engagement or interaction with them. If you must engage, be professional and do not let them infect you. Protect you and your reputation by creating a positive relationship with others in the organization. Teach them how to treat you. Don’t accept bad behavior as the norm. Don’t make it personal, instead just make it about the work. State the facts when speaking with them, keep reframing and reflecting on what they say. Don’t own their issues.

You can control three things in life: 1-your thoughts, 2-your feelings and 3-your choices. When dealing with toxic people, always remember what you can and cannot control. Protect yourself, and this includes both your emotional and physical health.

Human resources and management consultant Abby Curnow-Chavez said it best, “Own what you can, let go of what you can’t influence, and make a change if you have to.”



Posted in


Recent Stories