If we like who we work with, chances are, we will like where we work. Co-workers' behaviors, whether negative or positive, have an influence on employees' behaviors. While co-workers' positive behaviors can influence an employee to "pay if forward," encouraging others and promoting a positive, effective and productive workplace, negative behaviors can really put a crimp in our day. Negative co-workers might cause an employee to grow to hate their job, skip work, zone out or just plain quit.
Negative co-workers can make the work environment so stressful, it can literally make you sick. The International Labour Organization reports that workplace stress causes a host of physical problems, including peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, hypertension and weakened immune system. Sick employees stay home from work and the organization suffers. Even if you aren't physically ill, a nasty co-worker might tempt you to fake it, simply to avoid having to face him.
While we have all zoned out at work, the term presenteeism is used when an employee develops a coping style of being present in "body only," unable to focus at work due to stress. Co-workers can really make work an unpleasant place to be, and their nasty behaviors are a leading cause of presenteeism, according to the Australian Government productivity commission. Presenteeism is often the first sign of burnout, a psychological syndrome of employee disengagement due to long-term exposure to a negative work environment. Because many employees might be too scared of losing their jobs if they call in sick, they show up but tune out, to protect themselves psychologically.
Quitting Your Job
You can only take so much, and if your co-workers are constantly bullying, harassing you or even becoming violent, you are going to feel truly awful. If you don't feel management has got your back when you complain, you are going to feel even worse. Your job satisfaction will dip to an all-time low, you might start dreading even going into work, and, at the extreme, you might quit your the job altogether due to these negative feelings.
When people value the relationships they have with co-workers, the workplace becomes a much happier place to visit. Although most people expect to have occasional conflicts at work, co-workers than are non-defensive, collaborative and solution-focused tend to make working through these conflicts more efficient and less stressful. You might even actually enjoy going to work every day because you feel so good being there. Because you feel others are giving you a fair shake, you are more likely to behave in an open, courteous and respectful manner yourself. If you feel positive about your work, you are more likely to carry this attitude into your daily non-work life, behaving in a kind and loving manner toward your friends and family.
- Wilson Learning: Redefining Employee Satisfaction -- Business Performance, Employee Fulfillment, and Leadership Practices
- International Labour Organization: Psychosocial Hazards and Mental Stress
- Australian Government Productivity Commission: Chapter 11-- Psychosocial Hazards - Productivity Commission
- Department of Human Services, Victoria: Analysis of Workplace Violence Research Frameworks
- University of Iowa: Workplace Violence -- A Report to the Nation
- Access Medicine: What Is Burnout?
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.