By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

A few months ago I had a career coaching client — we’ll call her Jane — contact me for career advice. She was upfront and upset that her main motivation for leaving her current job was that she didn’t get along with her co-workers. It was unfortunate, since she actually really enjoyed her work and the company she was working for.

I get it — going to work every day and being surrounded by people who just aren’t your speed can take a toll. Additionally, jobs I’ve had that I enjoyed the most (and the clients who end up the happiest in their positions with new employers) are those who have a positive dynamic with co-workers.

Reporting to work every day to an environment where you’re surrounded by people you get along with, respect, and admire can make a world of difference in your day-to-day attitude… Not to mention that it boosts productivity and makes employees more loyal to their employers.

Jane’s dilemma prompted me to explore what to do when you find yourself in the midst of a less-than-stellar dynamic with co-workers. Is it best to cut your losses and move on, or are there ways to adjust to the dynamic or even improve it?

Here are four ways to navigate negative co-worker relationships.

  1. Rise above.

When we were younger, we were all taught how to get along with other people. Whether this co-worker is someone you dislike or someone who is going around spreading negativity and gossip, you have the power to rise above the negativity. Don’t compromise your own productivity by stooping to their level. Keep your mindset positive and professional… Maybe you’ll even rub off on them!

2. Don’t take it too personally.

It can be frustrating to work in an environment with someone who seems to be taking out all their negativity on you. However, it’s important to realize that their attitude has nothing to do with you — their behavior existed before you even became their coworker, and it’ll probably exist once you’ve moved on. Negative and toxic people have trouble taking responsibility for their own actions, and are prone to blaming others for their problems. No matter how much it might feel like it, you’re truly not the cause, so try to take it with a grain of salt.

3. Talk to HR.

If your issues with your co-worker get to the point where talking it over with them just isn’t working, you can bring the issue to HR — after all, that’s what they’re there for! It’s not necessary to file an official report or anything of that nature. Just hashing out the issues with someone trained to deal with them can help you learn to better manage this tricky workplace relationship.

4. If all else fails, it’s okay to move on.

It’s perfectly acceptable to realize you might not be equipped to handle this kind of work relationship. Do some soul-searching, and really ask yourself if staying in your current position is worth it. While some situations can be managed and dealt with, others may be toxic past the point of repair. If this is the case, there’s nothing wrong with moving on. The situation doesn’t have to hold you back, and you’ll be doing your career and peace of mind a favor.

In Jane’s case, she made the decision to leave the situation. Once she realized that any attempts to improve or adjust her work situation wouldn’t be worth her while, she committed to finding a new job and an improved work environment. Every situation is different, though. Do what’s best for you, whether it means putting in the effort to smooth things over or moving on.

…And remember that no matter what you choose, you’re always equipped to make the right decision for yourself.

For a FREE course to land a new job you love, launch your dream business, or find your purpose, visit  


  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.