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Dealing with Toxic Behavior in the Workplace

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

There is no such thing as the perfect culture or work environment. Workplaces are constantly challenged with stopping bad behavior, keeping morale up, and keeping negativity to a minimum. Although no place is perfect, some leaders deal with issues much better than others. Here are common toxic behaviors and how to deal with them:

1. Gossip - It may seem harmless, but gossip can have a huge negative impact on how your employees feel about their coworkers and the company. Gossip makes people feel uncomfortable, weakens trust and morale, and divides people.

How to fix: Stop it in it's tracks by speaking with the gossiper and explaining that it doesn't support a positive team environment. And don't gossip yourself! As a leader, you must set a good example and let your employees know it won’t be tolerated.

2. Criticism - You shouldn’t only talk to your employees when something is wrong. Only hearing negative things from your boss or coworkers can really beat down an employee.

How to fix: Constantly give your employees positive feedback. Remember the phrase "praise the behavior you want to see" from Ken Blanchard's, One Minute Manager. And when you provide feedback, always focus on their behavior instead of their attitude, so they know exactly what they did right or wrong.

3. Blaming Others - Sometimes people are so afraid of making a mistake, they will throw anyone under the bus to save themselves. This creates divides between teammates and causes more issues than it solves.

How to fix: Create an environment where mistakes are okay. As a leader, be the first to admit when you are wrong. Don’t embarrass anyone for their mistakes and work with them to improve.

4. Negative Attitudes - Negative coworkers can definitely have an effect on the people around them and bring them down too.

How to fix: Ask them what is going on. Try and find the root of the issue and see if there is a way to solve it together. Let them know the impact they are having on those around them. Teach them how to treat you and others and set boundaries. Don’t become a negativity magnet.

The key to dealing with toxic behaviors at work is to address them right away. Don't wait until the problems gets worse and more and more people are affected. Create an environment where employees know negativity and bad behavior won't be tolerated. Positivity is also contagious, so reward those who have a positive impact on your culture.


Do you know an emerging leader who will benefit from one-on-one coaching? Email or call Margie Adams at 303-809-8093.

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