5 Types of Toxic Coworkers – From Bullies to Narcissists

Toxic coworkers come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. If you know the type of toxicity you’re dealing with, you’ll be better able to cope with difficult people at work.

Types of Toxic CoworkersFor an in-depth description about working with toxic people, read Toxic People: 10 Ways Of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable by Lillian Glass. That was the source of these types of toxic people, and it’s a fantastic book! Dr. Glass not only helps you identify the “toxic” people in your life, she also provides ten techniques for successfully dealing with them, including tension-blowout, unplugging, direct confrontation, and humor.

Spending time with toxic people at work, such as bullies or narcissists, can lead to emotional numbness, low energy levels, feelings of low self-worth, and even physical problems such as nausea, headaches, or muscle tension. If you’re an introvert, you’ll find meddlers incredibly toxic to work with. If you’re thinking about finding a new job, read Best Jobs and Careers for Introverts – From Online to On Air.

5 Types of Toxic Coworkers – From Bullies to Narcissists

Before you can learn how to overcome the effects of toxic people (and cope with their words and behaviors), you need to know how to recognize them as quickly as possible. Here is a summary of the five most common types of toxic people…

The Gloom and Doom Victim

This type of toxic person is sad, negative, stubborn, paranoid, skeptical, and often depressed. She is a perpetual worrier, and constantly complains about how unfair life is. For instance, she knows she’ll have a terrible time at the party, she won’t get the job she applied for, and her restaurant food will arrive at the table cold.

The Gloom and Doom Victim is toxic because she spreads depression and negativity to everyone she meets. She drains energy and makes people feel burdened and hopeless.

If you already know what type of toxic coworker you’re dealing with, then it’s time to learn strategies for coping. Read How to Deal With Your Husband’s Toxic Ex-Wife for tips on dealing with toxic people.

The Meddler

The Meddler is invasive, bold, judgmental, self-righteous, gossipy, nosy, and rude. This toxic person isn’t just difficult – he likes to make life miserable for other people. He doesn’t have an interesting life of his own, so he has to cause trouble in other people’s lives. He envies people with active, exciting, and productive lives. The Meddler is toxic because he can cause serious financial, professional, and personal problems in other people’s lives.

The Bossy Bully

Types of Toxic Coworkers

5 Types of Toxic Coworkers

The Bossy Bully is an adversarial, forceful, angry, argumentative person who is known as a “know it all.” This toxic person orders people around and doesn’t forgive or forget small mistakes. The Bossy Bully has a need to control other people, and often, this person exhibits cruel tendencies.

The Bossy Bully is toxic because he stresses others, makes people fear him, and doesn’t earn or give respect.

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Here’s one of my favourite articles about a toxic coworker: When Your Coworkers Complain About What You Wear to Work – it’s my response to a reader who was having problems with a bully at work.

The Penny Pinching Miser

This type of toxic person is selfish, rigid, cheap, petty, insecure, and neurotic. The The Penny Pinching Miser often misses the big picture, instead focusing on the “nickels and dimes” of life. This person goes beyond having a specific money personality; she’s as cheap with love and affection as she is with money.

The Penny Pinching Miser is toxic because she takes advantage of the people around her – both financially and otherwise. I know this type of toxic person well, because I am one! But I’m working on it. 🙂

The Narcissist

“Me, Myself, and I” is the focus of the Narcissist. He is selfish, egomaniacal, shallow, arrogant, indiscreet, and socially inept. The Narcissist loves to look at himself and hear himself talk. He says the words “I”, “me,” and “myself” more than any other words, and often speaks in a monologue (instead of dialogue).

The Narcissist is toxic because he doesn’t give other people the chance to participate in a discussion – or a healthy relationship. The Narcissist is one of the most boring types of difficult people to associate with, because all he cares about is himself.

Toxic people must be avoided as much as possible. The best way to live a happy, fulfilled, productive life is to surround oneself with people with whom one can grow, whom one respects, and whom one admires.

Is it difficult for you to be yourself at work because of your coworkers? Read Wearing What You Want to Work – Whoopi Goldberg. Being who you are – authenticity and honesty – takes practice and deliberate effort.

I welcome your thoughts on how to deal with different types of toxic coworkers. I can’t offer advice, but it may help you to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight…

May you be blessed with wisdom, guidance, and clarity when you’re dealing with toxic coworkers.


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3 thoughts on “5 Types of Toxic Coworkers – From Bullies to Narcissists

  • happy lady

    I have worked with and experienced all these characteristics in the workplace. Most of my roles have been in the voluntary sector where these kinds of people are allowed to thrive and bully others. Years ago, I would and did tolerate the crap from others. However, I certainly wouldn’t now and would make them aware that I know their game early on in their game. No amount of money is worth tolerating rude, vindictive narcissists and of course the more deadly psychopaths. If I can ever give anyone sound advice it is to deal with the issue early on. However, if the voluntary organisation that you work in is small and clicky my advice is to get out.

  • Laurie Post author

    Hi Uppal,

    Thanks for commenting!

    When posting this list of toxic people at work, I thought it’d be better to write about ways to cope with difficult people. After all, we all recognize toxic people…the trick is actually knowing how to deal with them.


    Hi Laurie,
    your list of toxic people is a very interesting read. I’ve come across many narcissists in my life. Their ‘love me love my dog attitude’ is always annoying and unbearable.