A long-time associate, Marsha Petrie Sue, has made a professional speaking career talking about “toxic people”. I love that term. Marsha has even written a couple of books on the topic, chief of which is “Decontaminate Toxic People without Using Weapons or Duct Tape”. I love that title, and the book is spot on. Marsha and I are going to be doing a podcast in the next several days. Stay tuned for this wild and entertaining discussion.
Here’s the point…we all can look at our workplace and say “ah yes, every day I have to deal with a couple of toxic people.” Interestingly though, few of us really ever figure out how to effectively overcome these obstacles. The typical responses run something like:
“If you can’t beat them, join them” – this is the gang at the water cooler yakking up the latest hot topic from you-know-who who said you-know-what about such-and-such …OR…
“I’m just gonna go eat some worms” – this is the retraction faction who shrink away when the toxic waste truck rolls by dumping sludge and goo all over the office …OR…
“Are you kidding me?” – the ones with a definite reaction to the toxic persons output, but whom, in the end, fail to really do anything about it …OR…
“Peter Passive” – the one who sets his jets on slow burn as the pressure mounts day after day, and then finally one day explodes in his own form of toxicity.
These sound pretty dysfunctional don’t they? Yet, let’s be truthful, isn’t this the normal way things go? Rather than letting the toxic person have their way and even perhaps becoming more like them ourselves, we need to rise above the smoke and ash.
The next time you are confronted by the toxic colleague, try to smile, kill them with kindness, and be as firm and professional as you can. Then say “Hey look. I know things can be tough and challenging around here. But you know what? I choose to take the high road. Let’s you and I try to find a way to do something positive to work toward the solution. I appreciate your view, but I choose to look more positively at the situation right now.”
When you get out of the hospital….just kidding. Seriously, when you help them pick their jaw up off the floor, you might be surprised at the eventual response you get; all for the good.
Hi, I am Doug Thorpe. Author, speaker, entrepreneur, and business coach.