We all have a more or less clear idea of how a toxic co-worker is, although there are different profiles. Someone who prefers to compete to collaborate, tries to impose their points of view but without it being too obvious, it is difficult to work as a team and it does not feel good to give up. But the opposite attitude can also be toxic: someone who is discouraged and does the minimum necessary because he is not interested in work or his colleagues or is always late with their tasks. These are the two ends of a grayscale in which we can locate any employee, depending on their ability to be in harmony with their work and colleagues. Can you tell at what point you are? Most likely, it does not hit.
Most of the time there is very little agreement between how others see us and how we think we are. This is useful for the workplace but also when assessing our personal relationships. There are many reasons for this disconnection, but, for the most part, it has to do with subjective perception, according to the research carried out so far. We analyze our behavior taking into account all our thoughts and emotions, but whoever sees us from the outside only has access to a tiny part of our inner universe.
What we think of how we are does not usually coincide with the image others have of us. Elisa Sánchez, a work psychologist who also dedicates herself to training, sums it up with an anecdote: "A few years ago, I taught courses aimed at how to relate to difficult people. The majority of those who came to these courses were, precisely, people who could be labeled as difficult. " Although, warns Sanchez, you have to be careful with the labels (cataloging someone as lazy can make you end up being the most lazy), it is true that there are people who have certain personality traits that make them tend to behave toxicly.
However, it is possible that the workers who wreak havoc on your equipment are not really aware that they are the cause of the bad environment: we tend to think that toxins are others. But all is not lost. There are signs that can help you identify if it is your attitude that is contaminating the rest. "The most obvious sign is that it is usual to have conflicts with different people, in various areas of their life and in different situations," says Sánchez. What conflicts have in common is that you are in them. Heidi Grant, a social psychologist who investigates motivation, sheds more alarm signals, such as realizing that she is being distant with her colleagues, not being aware of her needs or thinking that the rules must always be followed.
- The signs that make you toxic
When meeting someone new, we draw almost immediate conclusions that allow us to get an idea whether we trust that person or not. Applied to work, we usually answer this question evaluating how close the new partner seems. "His warmth, being kind, attentive, empathetic ... these characteristics are taken as signs that that person has good intentions. Therefore, appearing cold and distant may, in the long run, make it seem toxic too, "Grant explains.
In addition, if someone is usually attentive to those next to them and one day answers badly or does not notify a partner in a meeting, they give him the benefit of the doubt and are more likely to think that he has had a bad day or an oversight. "The problem is that most, in their eagerness to demonstrate their skills and effectiveness, neglect to project warmth," says Grant. "In fact, it's worse than that: some people minimize their closeness to look more competent" Lack of empathy is another factor that peers identified as toxic have in common. This can happen unconsciously: being too involved in daily tasks can lead you to neglect your relationships and make you seem selfish.
In a research published by Harvard University A third common trait that toxic partners often share was found: believe that the rules should always be followed. The rules that govern how tasks should be performed can sometimes be adapted for a compelling reason. However, inflexible people cling to the rules and make sure that everyone else does as well, even when they make no sense or directly oppose productivity.
Realizing that we behave like a toxic companion when we have always been convinced otherwise can generate some added problems. As a general rule, people feel uncomfortable when we have contradictory beliefs or when our ideas do not correspond to what we do. This is what in psychology is called cognitive dissonance, defined as "an unpleasant state that occurs when conduct is carried out inconsistent with the attitudes formed."
According to the theory of cognitive dissonance, people who are in this situation are forced to take some kind of measure to help resolve the discrepancy between these beliefs and contradictory behavior. Generally, they modify the attitude to make it congruent with the behavior. That is, they probably justify their behavior by avoiding thinking about the possibility that one of these explanations is that they are really toxic partners.
- Video. How to disagree in a productive way.
Based on her experience as a world debate champion, Julia Dhar explains in this TED talk how to change the way we communicate so that we can begin to disagree in a productive way. For this, he says, it is necessary to separate the ideas of the identity of the person who debates and find a common place from which to start (this is always the starting point of the professionals of this practice).
- Courses and workshops. Toxic relations workshop in Barcelona. Its main objective is to learn to identify toxic relationships and to leave them or modify them so that they become healthy relationships. Whether with colleagues at work, at home or with friends, it is necessary to learn to understand, give and share to achieve a good coexistence with others. It is taught by the Canvis psychology center.
- App. ASMRtist. If none of this works, this app will help you release tension. It gathers relaxing sounds, especially for the fans of the ASMR (autonomic meridian sensory response, for its acronym in English). This phenomenon is characterized by a sensation of relaxation that can be accompanied by a tingling in the head. In the app you can find from the sound of rain to boiling water or an effervescent drink. Avoid whispers, they can be quite disturbing. Available on iOS and Android.
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