How to deal effectively with toxic people in the workplace

in work •  last year 

 Yes, we all know who the toxic people are where we work!Here is a method that is helping stressed employees to deal with toxic people in the workplace. 

The context 

We live in a fast paced (getting faster) work-centric world. Most of us spend the bulk of our time travelling to work, working and travelling home. With the insidious proliferation of always connected technology many are working on their journeys as well as at home. When you force people into a closed environment for many hours a day and make them afraid to leave, there will be a variety of dynamics unfolding on a daily basis. 

The problem (s) 

Some people will feel trapped by their jobs and the roles that feel forced upon them. Society tends to favour control by fear, so people in this category will often stay in work environments they struggle with because they (we) are afraid to lose their income. Many will unconsciously accept the conditioning of daily work, and play control games. By games I mean that these people (us, perhaps) do not question the reality or validity of their lifestyles and act out whatever dysfunctions they/we have developed over a life time.  In a closed environment this tends to develop company cultures that are an acting out of control games. Unfortunately, managers are sometimes people who are drawn to positions where they can be in charge (which means impose their values and beliefs) on others. 

The solution 

Firstly, wake up to the game that is being played. We are not ‘on a level playing field’ to continue the metaphor. Society is geared towards both control and notching up pressure to consume, by the ones at the top who bind us all to service their greed. That is how it is, at least on one level. So, wake up, there is no Disney happy ending (unless you pay premium subscription). Waking up gives you the chance to take stock and respond. Second, deliberately work on your resilience levels. Resilience is your ability to not be permanently overwhelmed by the challenges that beset us all. It is to be able to recover yourself whilst also navigating the pressure placed on us by others, and crucially, learning how to deal with the pressure placed on us by ourselvesDeveloping resilience 

  • You are more than this situation and you are more than your thinking/feeling about this situation. 

The more you can disengage and be mindfully present in your workplace the less emotionally driven you will become. This is not about repression. You think what you think and notice it as thought. You feel what you feel and notice it as feeling. By deliberately adopting this perspective you become less likely to be unconsciously driven from pillar to post by out of awareness, habitual conditioning (both yours and others’). Useful tools and techniques for this are mindfulness meditation, self-hypnosis and the Three Principles Understanding

  • Armour and insight 

Your first task may be to survive both a difficult work environment and your own feeling and thinking about it. At the end of the day, we only experience our lives through our own thinking and feeling, so it makes sense to pay attention to that first. If we get ourselves into a better psychological place we are then better placed to deal with real world issues and changes that need to occur that if we are angry and stressed and behaving in desperate reaction to the next ‘sting’ and stressor. Pay attention to your own wellbeing first – that is your armour. It is also the beginning of insight. The less reactive we can become, the better placed we are for ‘wise reflection’ and those ‘ah ha’ moments that come to us in quiet spaces. As we become more aware of our own insightful understanding we can begin to trust that and deliberately act from it. This is what will begin to reduce our overall levels of stress and give us a better foundation for taking more effective action to change your working environment. 

  • Mental agility 

There are lots of tools, technique and resources available. I would caution you against a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Mindfulness, for example is wonderful, but for many it is only one part of an overall navigation through life. Self hypnosis is a wonderful, evidence based technique and best used (in my view) within an overall philosophy of life. 

Suggestion

I would suggest that being open to noticing what works is a key life skill. Buy the t-shirt for whatever fashionable approach takes your fancy, but notice where it does and does not work. Continue to deepen your enquiry into what this life is, and the stresses of the workplace will both lessen in overall importance and gradually change into a context for your ongoing enquiry – although (unfortunately) often into how we (more wisely) deal with thoughts and feelings of dislike! As a word of caution, don’t neglect the environment. If your job really sucks and you have done your best to adapt, improvise and overcome, make it your project to change your work situation. You could make a deliberate plan to get a different job, start a business on the side that will take over, change career… We are physical beings in a physical world and sometimes it is enough to change our environment! In summary, focus on what works in order to understand more about how life functions and decide what you want to make of yours then set your inner gps towards there. Find times that you can be quiet and notice what occurs to you as the next step on the journey. Sharing is caring! 

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It’s all about having a positive attitude and the self that you bring. Positivity is infectious to other people. Cool post.

Thanks zekz! Yes, a positive attitude and a problem solving approach so that even/ especially our own 'negative' thoughts and feelings can become grist for the mill rather than derail us further.