If you have ever or are now, working in an environment where you are defensive of your actions and reactions more often than not, it is time to evaluate if you are in an unhealthy toxic environment.

Mini-story: My client is in a meeting with 10 executives and all of a sudden one of their colleagues starts shouting. The executive starts the conversation with no preamble and begins to accuse each person sitting in the room of going against his wishes, not supporting his team, undermining all of his staff direction and respect. The President put her hand up, stands up and says to the executive, “please calm down. We don’t know what is wrong and what caused you to start shouting at all of us. Please explain the problem.” The executive in a loud tone with his face changing to bright red, repeats the unwarranted accusations. Once again starts to verbally abuse all 10 people in the room. The President stands up again and repeats herself. Please tell us what is wrong and why you are upset? The executive looks at the President, grabs his laptop and slams out of the door. The other team members all began talking at once. It took the President 25 minutes to calm everyone down and hear from each of them this is a daily occurrence. Rash insulting words are spewed by the executive and everyone agreed that this is not acceptable behavior and if happening in an executive meeting what is going on in operations and how many other employees are being treated badly. Sad but true and this has occurred multiple times. The executive team did not want to complain to the President and hoped one day she would experience this unacceptable behavior herself. That day is today.

Bullies are just that – bullies. Toxic behavior is poison.

  • Toxic people will likely never apologize for their bad behavior.
  • By trying to put you in a defensive position the toxic person is blaming you for making them “do that”. A bully will create conflict and strife switching it around to make it look like you initiated the conflict, when the toxic behavior person displays manipulative bad behavior, at the very least.
  • When you find yourself being blamed or manipulated to accept blame when unwarranted, try saying: Thank you for bringing the situation to my attention. I will keep my eyes open so we ensure this doesn’t happen again.
  • If a colleague is not hearing another colleague correctly and their voices are escalating, try “Susan did you hear what Mark said”? It will take their focus off being angry and back to moving to the next steps.
  • When a team member is complaining, often only 3% of the complaint is often valid. Ask the team member who is the complainer in front of others on the team. If 3% of what Susan said is true, and the rest isn’t, what is the 3% truth”?

Toxic behavior can create a type of poison that can infiltrate your personal and/or your professional life if you allow it to seep into your world.