Toxic groups are way more common than I’d like for them to be. If I had a dollar for every time that I worked with a toxic person or a toxic group, I’d be able to have a steady income and not have to go to school. The bummer is, toxic groups aren’t only in school during group projects. They’re possible anytime you work with others, aka at church, work, home, etc. There are so many different types, but the main ones that I have experience with are at school.
Last year when I took core 401 I was put into a group with a Theology major and a Biology major. They were both incredibly smart, so I thought it would be a good semester of working together. Boy was I wrong. They weren’t bad in the typical way of someone not pulling their weight or doing their work in the group. They were bad in the opposite way where they wouldn’t let anyone help them or give them tips. It was annoying because since I’m a DM major I was already frustrated having to do the paper instead of experience first, so it started out already being frustrating. Both of them wanted to be the “leader” of the group and wanted everyone to do what they told them to. That got to be old pretty fast because they kept butting heads and I would just sit there cause I didn’t wanna get in the middle of it. Our project ended up being basically three different projects from each person, combined into one big one that wasn’t very coherent. It wasn’t great because we didn’t work on it together, we each just wrote 1/3 of the paper and called it good. Working with toxic groups is the worst because especially in school, you can’t usually pick your groups. You have to deal with whatever people you get put with, and sometimes you get screwed. There are definitely ways to make the situation better, like trying to change your outlook, or maybe talking to them and finding common ground. Although that can help, sometimes you just have to stick it out and try to have a good attitude.
One example that I’ve experienced outside of school was when I worked at Waxing The City in Denver over the summer. This was a great job for the first two or three weeks, but when my boss started to get comfortable with me, things weren’t as good. She would talk to me about getting drunk on the weekends and hooking up with random guys, and I never knew how to respond because she was my boss. A lot of the girls that I worked with at Waxing The City were like that where they would tell me these crazy stories and I would just laugh uncomfortably and not know what to say. This made it so the work environment was extremely uncomfortable because all they talked about was getting drunk and being crazy. Working in this environment, I found that every time I would drive to work I started dreading the day ahead. I’m not saying they’re bad people for doing these things by any means, but I wasn’t doing those things and I couldn’t relate to them. It made it really uncomfortable when everyone else was talking about it and I had nothing to say. This was an experience where the people I worked with made it a toxic place to be for me and I had to get out of there. Sometimes you can stick it out and make the best of it, but sometimes you need to get out of the situation and do what’s best for you. One other reason that I left Waxing The City is because I got an internship offer at Ibotta, so it was a win-win to quit Waxing The City. Once you learn how to cope with toxic groups, you’ll be able to handle them better in the future.