How To Identify Toxic Positivity In The Workplace

Too much of a good thing can be bad. Yes, even positivity!

Imagine going to your boss and saying that your manager makes you work overtime every day of the week and calls you about work-related issues on the weekends. Instead of talking to your manager, your boss smiles at you and says, “Thank you, your hard work is truly appreciated.” This is a clear example of how toxic positivity works in the workplace.

Toxic positivity refers to a situation where real problems are dismissed in a positive way rather than discussed and resolved. This can create a depressing work environment and make employees feel like they are exaggerating their problems. But how do you determine what toxic positivity is and differentiate it from genuine efforts to be encouraging and supportive? let’s find out

What are the markers of toxic positivity?

1. Employees withhold feedback and criticism

Meetings and brainstorming sessions should be places where everyone speaks up and gives their opinion. The interactions in such situations can help refine ideas and improve your organization’s performance.

When employees are afraid to speak up in meetings because they don’t want their feedback to be dismissed as “negative,” it’s a clear sign that the workplace has an overly positive culture. This can cause the opposite of innovation, because no one dares to point out the mistakes and shortcomings of a marketing strategy, for example. When ideas or pitches get the green light without feedback or criticism from anyone, leaders should be wary of toxic positivity in the workplace.

Read  How To Stock Your Pantry For A Big Emergency, From Hurricanes To Power Outages

2. Colleagues downplay your struggles/emotions.

Suppose Employee A is having a bad day because he screwed up a presentation or report. Instead of sympathizing with them, their peers tell them it’s okay because others usually make much bigger mistakes. This may make Employee A feel that his feelings are unjustified.

People who want to discuss work-related topics with their colleagues speak from experience. If they turn off your problems, it can cause too much stress. Talking through your problems can help you effectively overcome negative feelings instead of dealing with them. In the meantime, if your co-workers or employees come to you with their frustrations or struggles, try to listen to them and give them an opportunity to vent.

3. Managers say “everything will be fine” in times of financial hardship in the company

All leadership guides will tell you that it is important to stay positive during difficult times and that you must not express too much dissatisfaction to your team or they will lose all hope. However, if you find yourself in a situation where layoffs are imminent, it would be toxic to pretend everything is fine.

Instead, leaders must show their teams that they are taking critical steps to help them. This could include giving team members great references to ease the future job search process, as well as using their own contacts to inquire about job opportunities at other companies.

How can leaders be positive without being toxic?

Most toxic positivity is often well intentioned. Maybe you’re just trying to sound encouraging and supportive only to come across as dismissive. Leaders need to replace toxic positivity with positive affirmation by acknowledging an employee’s negative emotions. One of the ways a leader can validate negative experiences is by being authentic. Just like everyone else, leaders aren’t always happy, and if you discuss it freely, you can become more approachable.

Read  How to Beat Giovanni (October 2022)

To positively address the concerns of your team members or employees, you can discuss the problems and the systems that caused them without trying to point fingers and find who is responsible for the problems. This helps employees find mistakes, learn from them, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

If you’re worried about your attempts at encouragement seeming toxic, here are some common toxic positivity statements and some positive affirmations to replace them with:

  • Instead of saying “Cheer up,” say “Your feelings are valid, what can I do to help you with this problem?”.
  • Replace “don’t think about it” with “tell me how you feel.”
  • Don’t say “everything will work out”. Instead, try “I understand, and I’m sorry you’re going through this.”

Finally, it’s important to know that it all boils down to being transparent and honest with your employees. By acknowledging and validating an employee’s feelings, you create a space for them to express themselves. It also tells them that the company sees them as real people and not mindless worker bees. While it’s almost impossible to achieve the perfect work culture all at once, regular conversations with employees and management can help you get closer to that goal over time.

Also read:

Cover image courtesy of Pixabay

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button