I have personally experienced the negative effects of toxic workplace cultures and I have the experience to provide insight into how to recognize toxic workplaces, but more importantly, how to fix them.
My experience with toxic workplaces:
In my first job out of college – I was a volunteer manager for a non-profit. One of our volunteers was toxic. After I fired her – she tried to get me fired. I endured 8 months of all sorts of crazy horribleness. Among other things, I was accused of sexual misconduct. I not only survived, I got through to the other side with my reputation intact and the toxic volunteer, eventually gave up.
At that same job, one of my colleagues was super passive aggressive. I was able to work around her and eventually the board asked me to set things up so they could fire her. I succeeded in that too.
I live in FL now. I had a boss once who was not only racist he was incredibly sexist. When I say sexist, I mean he used to rub himself in front of me. It was disgusting. I didn’t succeed there, but I did get out ok and into another better job where I was appreciated and supported.
I now teach how to get unwanted behavior to stop using behavioral psychology techniques known as operant conditioning. Specifically I teach the technique known as extinguishing a behavior. I learned this while training dolphins for a dolphin language cognition research lab in Hawaii.
|That's me. I really did train dolphins. |
How to fix it:
The great thing about truly toxic people is a) they aren’t very creative and b) they are super predictable which makes controlling their behavior easy.
I caution people all the time: truly toxic people are really really rare. Most people you have problems with are NOT toxic. The ones who are have mental health issues that are usually untreated. The great thing about my approach is that to do it well, you have to treat people with dignity and give them opportunities to change and embrace you as an ally. If they just can’t, that’s on them.
Most people respond super well to these techniques. I have created allies out of enemies with this technique. That’s the ideal outcome and it’s doable assuming the person is … neurologically normal which most people are.
But if the person is truly toxic and not in control of their behavior what will happen is they will expose themselves as toxic to the point no one can deny it anymore. You can do this while maintaining your dignity and grace and without fighting them. And yes – it works.
All my harassment courses teach these behavioral conditioning skills. They will allow you to deal with people effectively and with dignity and grace. And if you do come across someone with problems that need, more professional help, you will be able to help your organization cope without violating their dignity.