Be­fore they change you...


In their book, Toxic Work­place!, Mitchell Kusy and El­iz­a­beth Hol­loway de­fine toxic per­son­al­ity as “any­one who demon­strates a pat­tern of coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, work be­hav­iour that de­bil­i­tate in­di­vid­u­als, teams, and even or­ga­ni­za­tions over the long term.” Har­bor­ing neg­a­tive feel­ings could prove detri­men­tal to not just oth­ers. It could linger within and ruin you, even with­out your knowl­edge.

Ionce had a man­ager for whom ev­ery meet­ing was a bat­tle ground, an op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate how he was bet­ter than oth­ers. Slowly but surely, peo­ple started avoid­ing him. When he be­gan to speak, ev­ery­one would sim­ply dis­en­gage. Work suf­fered ini­tially, and the team, even­tu­ally. Some good peo­ple even left.

Time and again, we have been trou­bled by this ques­tion: what went wrong? What is it that made things go

from bad to worse? Or worse, how do you know for sure that it was not your fault?

time to face the mir­ror

Heard some­body whis­per­ing and con­cluded that it was about you? Ev­ery time some­body at work is hav­ing a ‘per­sonal’ con­ver­sa­tion, do you feel the need to in­ter­fere and point out that they should be ‘work­ing’? Some­body has an opin­ion that you do not agree with, do you stomp

your feet and walk out of the room? Do you have a hard time ap­pre­ci­at­ing oth­ers, but are quick at find­ing faults? Th­ese are just ques­tions that you need to be true to. If the an­swer to any of th­ese is a yes, there might just be the need to re­cal­i­brate.

the need to self-pro­mote is masked It all be­gins with a deep sense of in­se­cu­rity of­ten masked by your need to be right ev­ery sin­gle time. This plays out in dif­fer­ent ver­sions with dif­fer­ent lead­ers, but the af­ter­ef­fects are all the same. One sin­gle neg­a­tive thought can ruin a beau­ti­fully crafted speech and a sin­gle doubt is usu­ally the prime cul­prit. It brings along an un­rea­son­able plague of thoughts that hits you with the pres­sure to suc­ceed. But some­where un­der the sur­face rests a fear.

The fear of ‘what if I can­not make it?’ The fear of re­jec­tion, the fear of fail­ure. Yes, there can be other rea­sons as well like work pres­sure or the lack of job sat­is­fac­tion, or recog­ni­tion. But if you have not been your­self for a while and start get­ting ir­ri­tated at ev­ery small lit­tle thing that hap­pens, it is time to ask your­self some ques­tions.

■ are you an ex­treme worka­holic?

■ do you have a hard time say­ing sorry?

■ do you find it a waste of time to ap­pre­ci­ate a fel­low col­league?

■ are you easily jeal­ous of your fel­low co-work­ers?

If your an­swer to most of the above ques­tions is an im­me­di­ate yes, maybe it is ‘you’ who is nur­tur­ing a toxic be­hav­ior at the work­place. If be­ing highly judg­men­tal, com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a pas­sive-ag­gres­sive tone, and feel­ing happy see­ing some­body else be­ing scolded comes nat­u­rally to you, it is high time to bring about a pos­i­tive change in your life.

If be­ing highly judg­men­tal, com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a pas­sive-ag­gres­sive tone, and feel­ing happy see­ing some­body else be­ing scolded comes nat­u­rally to you, it is high time to bring about a pos­i­tive change in your life.

How to get over it? Fol­low the sim­ple seven-course path of im­pact­ful As.

01 be­ing aware: ‘some­thing is not right’

Our sub-con­scious mind of­ten warns us about cer­tain things we ca­su­ally dis­re­gard, be­liev­ing that the thought will go away if we ig­nore it long enough. But what if we in­stead choose to ques­tion the thought and delve deeper?

02 ac­knowl­edge: ‘I think there is a prob­lem’

Things have not been the same lately. You see a dif­fer­ence in your be­hav­ior and you re­al­ize that your at­ti­tude is hurt­ing some­body else. Peo­ple have even stopped in­clud­ing you in con­ver­sa­tions lately. Would you still want to ig­nore the thought?

03 ac­cept: ‘yes, I have a prob­lem.’

Stop be­ing so hard on your­self—you made a mis­take, take own­er­ship. Liv­ing in de­nial will only help your in­se­cu­ri­ties grow. It is never too late to say sorry and make things right.

04 ad­dress: ‘I need a so­lu­tion to my prob­lem.’

If there ex­ists a prob­lem, then there will also be a so­lu­tion. Once you step onto the path of in­tro­spec­tion, there is no turn­ing back. Even if you have the most tyran­ni­cal boss, what stops you from be­ing calm and find­ing a so­lu­tion to deal with the sit­u­a­tion?

05 al­ter: ‘I need a change.’

It all be­gins with a thought and it does not hap­pen in a sin­gle day ei­ther—one change at a time. To­day, you try ap­pre­ci­at­ing a col­league, to­mor­row, you try lis­ten­ing to some­body else’s point of view. Even­tu­ally, as you ex­pe­ri­ence the neg­a­tiv­ity flow­ing out, the op­ti­mism will help bring back the old you.

06 ac­tion: ‘I need to change.’

Most of us have goals, but lack a plan to get there, which causes a lot of the frus­tra­tion. It is time to cre­ate a plan. You can make mi­nor ad­just­ments along the way, but your main motto must be to take the first step. To make the first move. To start.

07 be amazed: ‘I can do it.’

Be­lieve in your­self be­cause the power to make a dif­fer­ence al­ways come from within. Just as wa­ter detox­i­fies our body, pos­i­tive thoughts help detox­ify our mind.

Know­ing your­self is the be­gin­ning of all wis­dom.— Aris­to­tle

Make friends with your thoughts. What stands in your way? What is re­ally stop­ping you from suc­ceed­ing? Think more about the task you need to ac­com­plish than how to en­sure that some­body does not re­ceive a pro­mo­tion. Think so­lu­tions as op­posed to prob­lems. Un­der­stand the root cause first and then look for a suitable so­lu­tion. List down your strengths first and cel­e­brate them. Study the avail­able pool of re­sources and then deep dive into tack­ling one weak­ness at a time.

Com­mu­ni­cate more of­ten, main­tain an ob­jec­tive process of de­ci­sion-mak­ing, and ac­cept that ev­ery­body is fight­ing their own per­sonal bat­tle to be them­selves at the work­place. Grat­i­tude is a great way to build con­fi­dence and en­hance our in­ner op­ti­mism lev­els. The feel­ing of con­tent­ment that you get when some­body says ‘thank you’ for your kind­ness, that is the ul­ti­mate treat­ment to rinse your­self of all tox­ins.

Do your job dili­gently and the rest shall sim­ply fol­low. ■

Grat­i­tude is a great way to build con­fi­dence and en­hance our in­ner op­ti­mism lev­els.

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