5 Ways You Can Avoid Stirring Up Office Toxicity

 

  1. Avoid instigating remarks. While we may mean no harm, sometimes we say things that are intended to be funny but can ignite toxicity. Snarky remarks (and emails) are all too often the root of workplace conflict. Despite how mentally tough we claim to be, we all have our sensitive sides, so avoid instigating remarks with a double meaning. For example, if a colleague dons an outfit not to your taste, instead of saying “That’s an interesting choice,” say nothing at all. If someone has been gone for a while on vacation, due to illness or whatever, substitute “I wondered if we’d ever see you again,” with “Glad that you’re back.”
  2. Avoid schedule watching. If you’re busy watching other people’s schedules then you’re not busy enough. Watching the clock or someone’s calendar and monitoring colleagues’ and supervisors’ comings and goings often is a sign of boredom or guilt. Many folks take the schedule watching too far by interrogating others on their comings and goings or running to a supervisor to make reports. Try focusing on what’s important—you and what you need to do to get your work done.
  3. Avoid water cooler gossip. Even if you don’t say a word, your presence is affirming to others and probably promoting this kind of behavior. You don’t need to confront gossiping, unless you approach it in a thoughtful way, but at least avoid participating or encouraging it from others.
  4. Avoid passive aggressive behavior. People are going to say and do things that offend us. It’s part of life. But how we react to their behavior determines whether or not we are poised for career advancement. Giving someone the cold shoulder or remarking aloud your disdain takes office behavior right back to middle school. Yes, it’s not always easy to have a mature conversation when emotions run high, but after you’ve had some time to reflect, you’ll discover that not only is it the most professional approach but that it typically garners positive results. Be courageous and share your concerns and be prepared to ask for a third party to mediate if necessary.
  5. Avoid using social media to vent. It’s bad enough to say something hurtful but imagine putting it out in cyberspace where it can never be erased. If you’re angry, hurt or feel slighted don’t hide behind a computer and vent. Instead, step up and speak up and seek a positive outcome. Yes, it requires work but you’ll avoid hurting others and harming your professional reputation.

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