Toxic Friendship Signs At Work

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What You Can Do About Toxic Friendships

Making friends at work can help boost teamwork and productivity. In addition, you get to have somebody who assists you with work challenges and cheers you in your career successes.

Having friends at work also gives you a sense of belonging. You never really feel alone at work. But how can you tell if you have a genuine or toxic friend at work? What signs should you look for?

Suppose you recognize the signs of a toxic friendship earlier on. In that case, you can intervene and get out of those relationships before they affect your career, or worse, your mental health.

How to Deal With Toxic Friendship Signs at Work

Toxic relationships can negatively impact your well-being. They can be physically and mentally draining. In this post, we will go over the signs of a toxic friendship at work then give you a few tips for what you can do about it.

10 Toxic Friendship Signs To Be Aware Of

.It’s important that you take note of the behaviors and reactions of your work friends as you interact with them. Don’t fall victim to assuming that “this is just who they are.”

At times, the signs of a toxic friendship may be right in front of you. Strive to identify dishonest friends, so you don’t waste time developing those relationships. Here are a few signs to help you recognize your toxic friends at work.

1. Toxic Friends Put You Down

“Friends” like these mock and undermine everything you do. They downplay your goals and achievements and any fortune that comes your way.

If you get a promotion, they say it’s because you know the manager. If you bring new ideas, they are quick to criticize them or say they will never work. You may have friends that constructively criticize your ideas to challenge you to think bigger.

However, toxic friends do so because they don’t want to see you win. Therefore, they are never happy when you progress more than them.

2. Toxic Friends Are Disloyal

They may tell other coworkers your secrets or something you told them in confidence. Of course, anyone can make a mistake and say something that was supposed to be private. But toxic friends do it intentionally and constantly. They seem to derive joy from talking behind your back.

Pay attention to any friends at your workplace that badmouth you or betray your trust. You want to have friends who support you and don’t condone it when others talk ill of you.

3. Friends That Try To Make You Change Your Values

The third indication that you may be dealing with a toxic work friend is when they criticize your values or change things about you.

For example, they may tell you to change your dressing style or scrutinize your choice not to drink in social settings.

A good friend is someone that supports or, at least, accepts your values even though they disagree with them.

4. Friends That Have No Respect for Your Boundaries

One sure sign of a toxic friend is when they don’t respect your boundaries.

Perhaps they go through your belongings when you explicitly told them not to. Or it could be they read your emails or wear your coat without asking. You may mistake this behavior for a sign of closeness when they may be intentionally ignoring your boundaries.

A true friend respects your personal space and doesn’t try to take advantage of you.

5. Friends That Enjoy Humiliating You

.If a toxic friend gets a chance to humiliate you in front of your coworkers, they will take it. They may tell embarrassing stories of when you slipped up at work or make fun of your flaws.

Their stories may come off as teasing or jokes, but they will, in most cases, leave you embarrassed or hurt. Of course, good friends can also tease or make fun of you, but they always know where to draw the line.

A real friend will not make fun of something you are sensitive about or something unfortunate that happened to you.

6. Friends That Make Everything About Them

Toxic friends may consider their problems, interests, or opinions as more important or relevant than yours.

They don’t find anything happening in your life valid or worthy of attention. Your challenges and interests come second to theirs.

They may rant to you for hours about their problems, then throw in a quick “what’s going on with you?” before returning the conversation to them.

7. Friends That Are Competitive in an Unhealthy Way

With toxic friends, every single thing feels like a competition. They may compare your life, achievements, and even social status to theirs. Toxic friends don’t want to see you progressing more than them.

As a result, they may become envious when you get a raise or subtly put you down when they get it before you. This kind of competition makes it challenging for you to confide in them because you can’t be sure whether they are happy for you or just keeping score.

8. You Feel Uncomfortable or Anxious Around Them

You may feel uncomfortable or uneasy being around a toxic friend. Perhaps it’s because you know they will insult or make fun of you. Or it could be because they always shoot down your ideas and accomplishments.

Being around a friend should make you feel good and at ease. If you constantly feel anxious around a friend, be cautious of how you interact with them.

9. Friends That Gossip Too Much

Gossip fuels suspicion and distrust. If you have a work friend who gossips to you about other coworkers, they may also be talking about you when you are not around. It’s best to be cautious when dealing with such coworkers.

10. Friends That Are Envious of Your Other Friends

A toxic friend may want you to always put them first in your social circle. They are envious when you choose to hang out with your other associates. And they may drive a wedge between you and other colleagues in your work circle. Toxic friends may also insult your other companions or downplay their importance to your life.

Unhealthy friendships come in different forms. They might not match all of these signs. But if you notice a few, try and proceed with caution. This does not mean that you need to have perfect work friends.

You may have a friend that occasionally gossips but genuinely cares for you. Or a friend that enjoys teasing you but is supportive of your goals and dreams. If you still feel confused about which friend is toxic or genuine, you can use these questions as your guide:

  • Are they supportive?
  • Do they make me feel good about myself at all?
  • Do they accept me for who I am?
  • Do I feel good being around them?
  • Do they clap for me when I win?

How a Toxic Friendship at Work May Affect You

There are several key ways in which a toxic friendship at work might affect your well-being, productivity, and even health:

  • It can damage your self-confidence and esteem.
  • It can reduce your work morale because you might dread going to work altogether.
  • It may increase your stress levels at work.
  • It may affect your relationship with other coworkers.
  • It can affect your productivity because you will be devoting time and energy worrying about the toxic friend instead of working.

Tips for Dealing With a Toxic Friendship

So, you may have noticed that you have a toxic friend in your work circle. How do you deal with this situation? There’s no need to end your association with them. Instead, you can try to fix it. But how? Here are a few tips for dealing with a toxic friend.

1. Talk to Them

Speak up and tell your toxic friend about their behavior. Tell them how you don’t like it when they insult you or talk about you behind your back. Be open about how you want them to be your friend, but you don’t like how they treat you.

Having such a direct conversation can feel scary, but it might help your friend see how they’ve been hurting you. Be polite and respectful when talking so that your friend doesn’t get defensive.

They may acknowledge their mistake and apologize. If they don’t, then you can proceed to cut them out of your life.

2. Enforce Your Boundaries

.After talking to your toxic friend, you can re-establish your boundaries once more. Use words like “I don’t appreciate how” or I don’t like it when” or “please don’t.”

For example, let’s say your friend loves to go through your desk files without your permission. So you may say something like,” Please stop going through my files” or “I don’t like it when you go through my desk files.”

Communicate clearly on how you won’t accept their behavior. You don’t have to explain why you have these boundaries.

Pay attention to how your friend responds as you express yourself. Do they shrug it off and jokingly tell you to calm down? Or do they apologize and say they won’t repeat it?

Shrugging off may be a defense mechanism, but it’s also a sign that your friend doesn’t value nor respect what you have to say.

The fact of the matter is you can’t make someone respect your boundaries, but you can control your response. If they keep disrespecting you, it’s best to reduce contact and practice detachment.

How to Get Out of a Toxic Friendship

As intimidating as it may be, taking a step back from the friendship may be the best and only solution. It’s okay to cut ties with a toxic friend. But how do you do it in a work environment?

Walking away cold turkey isn’t a practical solution since you might run into them during meetings and lunch breaks. Here is a guide on how you can get out of the toxic friendship at work.

Accept The Facts

The first step to getting out of a toxic friendship is to acknowledge that it’s over. Accepting reality may hurt, but remember that your mental health and self-esteem are more valuable.

Accept that your friend may never change and that your friendship won’t be the same again. Finally, try and forgive your toxic friend for everything they did to hurt you. Doing so will allow you to start healing and move on.

Slow Distancing

.Cutting the ties off with a toxic friend doesn’t have to be awkward or dramatic. You can distance yourself slowly and let the friendship fade away. You may have to talk to them during meetings and other office gatherings but stick to work-related conversations.

Your relationship with your toxic friend can begin and end in the office. Refrain from giving them details about your life or any other personal information. You can also avoid going out with them after work hours. Just keep your relationship civil and professional.

Go Against Their Routine

If you know your friend’s work routine, you can use this information to your advantage. Go against their routine to reduce the times you meet up with them.

For example, if your friend goes for lunch at 1 pm, go at 1:30. If they like to engage in a breakroom chat in the morning hours, avoid the breakroom during that time. You might run into them in various places. Just have a quick and casual conversation, then excuse yourself back to work.

Build a Relationship With Other Supportive Work Friends

You may have other friends that you think are positive and supportive in your work environment. Strengthen your relationships with them instead. Show them that you are a friendly, positive, and caring person.

Don’t close yourself off to everybody just because you have a coworker or two who are toxic. Remember that friendships at work are necessary. Your goal should be to make friends with someone who cares about you as much as you care about them.


We are social beings, so making long-lasting friendships at work is important. It enables us to enjoy our work more and feel motivated and excited when working as a team. However, pay close attention to who you are cultivating a friendship with because you might be building a relationship with toxic coworkers.

Toxic friends don’t like to see you succeed more than them. They enjoy downplaying your ideas, dreams, and goals and love to humiliate you in front of others.

If you have a toxic friend at work, you can either talk to them about their behavior or take a step back from the friendship.

The best way to cut ties with a toxic work friend is to distance yourself slowly without causing any drama. Then, as you get out of the friendship, work on building a more supportive relationship with your other colleagues.

More About Toxic Friendships

There are many resources online you can use to gain a better understanding of toxic relationships. Below we have a few sections you may find interesting.


Books are an excellent method to learn more about any subject. Unlike an essay containing a few thousand words, a book will go into great depth on a certain subject and most likely elaborate on the main points.

A book is similar to an online or in-person course.

Go through the Google search results to see what’s new in books related to Toxic Friendships.


Keep up with toxic friend-related events by reading the news.

I like to stay updated on current events by using Google News and reading any relevant archives.

Take a look at the most recent Google news results for Toxic Friendships.


X is one of the most widely used social media platforms today..

I like to use X to see what people are saying about a specific topic. You can read a lot in a short amount of time because tweets are short.

Save time by filtering out irrelevant tweets with X’s search function.

If you’re curious about what people are saying about Toxic Friendships on X, look at the most recent tweets.


Videos are a great way to learn more about a wide range of topics. I’m not much of a reader, but I like watching videos to learn new topics.

Furthermore, many YouTube videos are short, and I can learn a lot from a 5 to 10-minute video. Another benefit is that since the videos are brief, I can watch them all in one sitting to obtain various viewpoints.

The most recent Toxic Friendships videos may be seen by clicking here.