How to Deal with Workplace Toxicity Part 2May 17, 2022
Hello! I’m Lori West, founder of Business Brilliance, and I show high performers like you how to harness the power of the mind to convert performance plateaus into performance peaks.
In this series, we’re talking trash, in particular workplace toxicity.
But what does that really mean?
When we talk about toxicity, what we are really talking about is poison. It’s a state of being adulterated by a substance that is harmful to us.
Put in the context of the workplace, and the meaning expands to environments that are poisonous.
In other words, we mean workplace environments that are harmful to your health, not always in the strictest sense of the word, but enough to make you feel uncomfortable, ill at ease and, in some cases, unwell.
And the unwell feelings often begin with psychological and emotional discomfort that, on their own, can certainly be unpleasant.
If left unattended, the psychological and emotional upsets can turn into psychosomatic disorders like IBS and skin eruptions such as psoriasis, exhaustion and neurological burnout.
So what causes workplace toxicity?
A lot of things contribute to it, but here are a few things for you to consider when you think about workplace toxicity:
- Ineffective or duplicitous leadership
- Misalignment of spoken and lived values
- Lack of self-awareness
- Unwillingness to be responsible for shortcomings
- Blame culture
- Avoidance culture
- Overemphasis on high performance
Pause the video, grab a pen and paper and write down what you notice about this list.
In particular, notice where have you experienced any of the above, and notice in particular what impact the experience had on you.
So, what are some signs of workplace toxicity? Let me give you some examples:
- Lack of enthusiasm amongst colleagues for being at work and doing the job
- Fear of failure
- Fear of speaking up
- Confusion brought on by inconsistent behaviours and messages
- High employee attrition
What do you notice about this list? Where have you experienced any of the above?
Maybe you recognise other attributes of toxicity in the workplace.
Write down what you notice and pause the video if you need to to give yourself some time to really consider this.
If you really look at toxicity, you’ll discover that it’s the direct result of the behaviour of individuals in the workplace.
And, if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll notice that you have engaged in some of these behaviours, too.
Have you ever gossiped about a colleague while having a coffee with another?
Have you been quick to point the finger at a colleague instead of owning your part in a ‘failure’ of a project?
Have you called in sick just because you couldn’t face going in?
What’s happening in these moments?
The limbic brain, the part of the brain we share with mammals, is designed to keep you safe.
Any perceived threat — blame apportionment, for example — threatens this part of the brain’s very existence.
The truth is, it doesn’t really, but that’s not how the limbic brain sees the world, and it’s especially strong if you’ve had a bad experience of something in the workplace in the past, for example being blamed for something.
This is the very thing that makes an environment toxic.
And if you are working in what you perceive to be a toxic environment, guess what? You are toxic, too.
In fact, you may be contributing to the toxicity.
I told you this was going to be uncomfortable, didn’t I?
This is not an opportunity for you to beat yourself up about it or to get angry about it.
What I want you to do and what I ask you to do is to be mindful of your own toxicity.
And the way to do that is to be really straight with yourself.
That’s the first step to detoxifying your workplace experience.
Well, you can just leave a workplace, but you’ll be carrying your own toxicity into the next environment.
How helpful will that be for you, your new colleagues and your new company?
In next week’s video, I’m going to show you how you can begin to clean up toxicity by applying mindfulness techniques.
Here’s the thing. Cleaning up toxicity is an ongoing process. It’s a bit like cleaning your teeth. You have to do it every day, and the responsibility lies with you.
And it begins with you.
While this may seem a little overwhelming, it’s actually really empowering.
Trust me. We’ll find out next week.
In the meantime, pop what you’ve discovered it in the comments or DM me with your thoughts.
Make sure you register above to receive my handy template for creating mental space in your working day, called A Boost of Brilliance.
It’s a workplace self-assessment tool designed to bring space and peace to your life, but it’s actually a really good daily toxicity transformer and it helps you create power every day.
How useful is that?
You’ll also receive my newsletter, in which I share lots of tips and free coaching for improving workplace performance in a mindful, fulfilling, empowered way.
I look forward to seeing you next week.
Until next time... be brilliant!
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