7 Signs You Work with a Toxic Achiever and How to Cope

Toxic achievers pose a serious dilemma for business owners, managers, and supervisors. On the one hand, they get the job done — quickly, and more successfully than their peers. So, their work production or sales numbers look great. On the other hand, they create major headaches due to the way they relate to others, their condescending attitude, and their propensity to frequently want “exceptions” to company policies and procedures. 7 Signs of a Toxic Achiever How do you know if one of your team members is a toxic achiever, or just a pretty good producer who can be irritating to... Continue reading...

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April 5, 2021 9:00 am
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5 Signs of a Toxic Workplace

From negative communication patterns to low morale, five indicators that your workplace is sapping your energy and mental health. Plus a new resource to help. The 2018 Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year: TOXIC. Not surprisingly, results from an anonymous survey that year found 52% of employees report they believe their work environment to be toxic. Unfortunately, the trend has not diminished. All workplaces have some negative characteristics, so it can be difficult to determine how dysfunctional your organization’s culture is. Does it: a) have a normal amount of challenges, b) display seriously dysfunctional patterns, or c) affect those within... Continue reading...

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March 22, 2021 9:00 am
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Learning to Appreciate Difficult Colleagues

What do I do when I don’t appreciate one of my co-workers? Some people are more difficult to work with than others. Human beings can be weird, angry, irritable, and aggravating. They can have a lousy work ethic, poor communication skills and negative attitudes. Appreciating these individuals can be even more challenging. Here are some tips on how to grow your appreciation for a difficult colleague. First and foremost, don’t try to fake it. Trying to act like you appreciate someone when you actually don’t typically doesn’t go well, and perceived inauthenticity will undermine any trust that may exist in the relationship.... Continue reading...

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March 8, 2021 7:35 am
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What do ‘mental health’ problems actually look like?

Frequent headlines in the news report “the level of mental health” among Americans is declining or “mental health issues are a primary concern” as a long-term consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what do mental health problems look like practically in our daily lives?  The issue may impact us personally, as well as our family members and/or our colleagues at work. Defining ‘Mental Health Problems’ As a psychologist, I often bristle at the use of generic terms in the mainstream media (and those who comment on the topics in social media) without really defining what the terms mean. One government... Continue reading...

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February 22, 2021 8:59 am
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The Need for Engaging, Relevant & Practical Training for Your Team Members

An organizational leader recently mentioned to me: “There is a huge need for quality remote training that is applicable to daily life. So much of what I see is ‘one and done’ – pure information without any practical utility.” As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting substantial number of employees who began working remotely and from home, “training” has quickly transitioned to an online, virtual format. The problem is: there’s not much actual training going on. What is mainly occurring is “transfer of information.” This, by itself, rarely results in changes in behavior. Let me take you... Continue reading...

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February 8, 2021 9:00 am
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Is Your Workplace Becoming More Toxic?

During the challenging times of COVID-19, and working from home (WFH), it has been difficult to keep connected with your colleagues. In addition to not seeing one another regularly, numerous adjustments have had to be made regarding how to conduct meetings, effective ways of communicating, and decision-making processes – all of which have contributed to the complexity of working together. When you add the stressors we have to cope with from outside of work – health concerns for ourselves and our family, childcare issues, the ever changing landscape of schooling, restrictions on travel, inability to visit family members in senior... Continue reading...

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February 1, 2021 9:00 am
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Appreciation is Making a Difference: Here’s Where

Over the past 10+ years, we have been diligent in investigating the concept of appreciation in the workplace from a variety of perspectives. Our goal is always to provide accurate, helpful and practical information and insights for applying appreciation to our daily work lives.  We strive to conduct high quality research and present valuable findings, but we realize if the information obtained isn’t understandable and applicable to the challenges of daily life, the results have limited value. As a result, we have written and published numerous articles (and created videos) exploring a wide range of topics, questions, and differences in... Continue reading...

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January 19, 2021 9:00 am
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The Most Important (Countercultural) Steps for Making 2021 a Success

Individuals who do well in life commonly utilize four key skills to help their lives move forward in a healthy direction. That is, people who achieve healthy personal goals tend to incorporate the same tools to assist them in moving toward their aspirations.  Unfortunately, some of these tools are not valued or embraced in our culture, which makes consistently utilizing them more difficult. Yes, believe it or not, we need to acknowledge that some of the beliefs and values of the majority Western culture are actually not helpful to us in living our lives well. Four Important (but often Countercultural)... Continue reading...

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January 4, 2021 9:00 am
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The Grinch Who Hated Appreciation at Work

This year’s holiday season will be different in many ways. But we thought you might enjoy a look back at what employees love and hate about celebrating the holidays in the workplace. There’s an even a link in the post sharing readers’ stories of their best and worst memories.

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December 14, 2020 9:00 am
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How To Give Thoughtful Employee Gifts This Holiday Season

One of the more anxiety-inducing activities around the holiday season is trying to determine if you should give a gift to those with whom you work—colleagues, supervisors, managers, and direct reports. If you do decide that you want to give an employee gift, the practical issue becomes: “What should I give them?”  While some may think giving employees’ gifts isn’t valued in the workplace, many find these small tokens of appreciation go a long way. Businesses spend billions of dollars on recognition rewards every year in hopes of creating a better employee experience and even increasing their bottom line, but... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2020 9:00 am
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Sync or Swim: A light read about working together during a crisis

Holidays are a great time to enjoy some light reading. But we are also in the midst of difficult circumstances – working from home, team members spread out, and financial challenges. Sync or Swim fits into both these categories. Through a fun, story format, you’ll read about various personality types and how they often respond to stress, and you’ll learn practical ways to “pull your team together.” (And it is a great way to introduce friends, family and colleagues to the 5 languages of appreciation.) Humans are hard-wired for a story and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom.... Continue reading...

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November 30, 2020 9:00 am
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Thinking Ahead: Ways to Avoid a Thanksgiving “Downer”

Thanksgiving is coming up next week and the holiday has been in the news due to the impact the COVID-19 virus is having on our lives. I will leave the practical suggestions on how to make a holiday gathering safe to the medical experts (for those of you who choose to get together with family and friends). I want to present some thoughts and suggestions that you should consider before planning your holiday celebration — in hopes of helping you think clearly about the options you are considering and giving you ways to avoid experiencing a depressing Thanksgiving Day. First,... Continue reading...

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November 16, 2020 9:00 am
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The 2020 Election – A Survival Guide for Talking about the Election at Work

Well, here we are, on the verge of the long anticipated (and for some, dreaded) 2020 elections. The tension is thick in the air – within the culture at large, on the airwaves and Internet, within families, and within workplaces.  A number of factors combine to create a significant sense of uneasiness for most of us:   -the unpredictability of the results   -the strong feelings many have related to the issues intertwined with the election   -fears about potential violence and destruction of property after the election   -concerns about how the results of the elections will impact our... Continue reading...

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October 29, 2020 3:10 pm
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Building and Rebuilding Trust at Work

The issue of trust – and lack of it – is a common topic in our current culture. Comments can be found in any news medium and frequently in personal conversations. “I don’t trust him.” “They aren’t trustworthy.” “Big organizations can’t be trusted.” The reasons why there seems to be an epidemic of lack of trust is a complicated discussion, in and of itself. Partly, because many people and organizations have shown themselves not to be trustworthy. First, we must understand what trust really is, then we can consider and respond correctly to relevant situations. It is Not as Simple... Continue reading...

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October 26, 2020 9:00 am
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Resources for Building Healthy Teams

Dr. Paul White and the Appreciation at Work team have been creating and publishing some new resources to help create healthy workplaces, especially for use in the midst of this difficult time of having team members working remotely (and from home), some working on-site, and others working in a hybrid model (some from home, some at the workplace).  This creates challenges in developing and maintaining healthy work relationships. Dr. White recently completed research with a national sample of remote employees and the results were summarized in an interview with Psychology Today‘s Hope and Resilience writer, Dr. Jamie D. Aten. The... Continue reading...

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October 12, 2020 9:30 am
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The Easiest Way to Encourage and Support Others: Use Your Words

The easiest way to positively impact your colleagues is to tell them what you value and appreciate about them. While supervisors and managers often try to use words to encourage their team members, their efforts often don’t “hit the mark.” Fortunately, using our words to communicate encouragement is easily done – whether you (or your coworkers) are working from home or onsite. We have found that following a few simple tips can make the use of words more effective in showing appreciation and encouragement to colleagues (and help you avoid some common errors, as well). To be most effective, words... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2020 9:00 am
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Working From Home: How the Concerns of Employees and Managers Differ

Recently, we conducted a national survey with over 500 employees and organizational leaders. We wanted to find out the issues that remote and working from home (WFH) employees were currently most concerned about. Last week, we reported the results for the group as a whole (all of the respondents together). Two concerns were rated more highly than the rest (a total of 22 issues were offered): *The emotional and mental health of team members (75% of respondents rated this as an extreme or moderate concern) *Work / life boundaries (~70% of participants identified this as being at a moderate or... Continue reading...

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September 28, 2020 1:58 pm
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What is Most Concerning to Working From Home Employees: National Survey Results

Working from home (WFH) due to the COVID-19 pandemic has now moved past six months, and the longer term nature of this alternative approach to work is starting to show areas of “wear and tear” in many of our lives. While employees, employers and family members have settled into a number of adjustments in their daily lives, numerous stressors continue as a result of the interference of the pandemic: not being able to be with a family member who is in the hospital, significant adjustments to (or cancellation of) wedding ceremonies, the inability to visit extended family members in other... Continue reading...

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September 21, 2020 9:00 am

Coping with Schooling at Home While Working From Home

  “How am I supposed to get my work done while I’m also expected to oversee my children’s schoolwork?” This critical question is one of the most common concerns raised by parents who are working from home. And with the schoolyear just beginning, this challenge, facing millions is both a very real and practical one. First, some context regarding my credibility. Prior to and during my work focused on work-based relationships and workplace culture, my professional focus included evaluating students with learning challenges, and consulting with parents and schools on the best ways to help their students learn. Additionally, we... Continue reading...

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September 14, 2020 9:00 am
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Making ‘Negative’ Communication Healthier: The Differences Between Complaints and Concerns

A lot of comments have been voiced about the increasing intensity of negative and conflictual conversations in our culture – on television, on radio talk shows, in social media, even in our personal interactions. In reflecting on the numerous challenges facing us in the workplace and our community activities (decisions about school attendance, sports events, social gatherings), it became clear that there are a lot of areas in our lives that we can complain about. Almost simultaneously, I thought: “We are in a space where almost all of us can become overwhelmed with the amount of complaining we hear and... Continue reading...

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September 8, 2020 9:00 am
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How to Help Your Employees Find Purpose at Work

“Does what I do matter?” Every person on the planet wants to know the answer to this question. This is especially true for employees that are feeling unstable and uncertain about their future. Employees that have a clear sense of their purpose are more engaged, more loyal, and more productive too. Amidst the pandemic, your team is looking for hope. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one-third of all Americans currently suffer from depression and anxiety. As quarantine orders took effect, self-help book sales shot up by 39%. Man has been searching for meaning from the beginning of time.... Continue reading...

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August 31, 2020 8:55 am
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Working From Home is Here to Stay: Simple Tips to Make Life Better

I often state that psychologists sometimes “discover the obvious.” Since I am a member of that prestigious group, let me make the self-evident conclusion clear: working from home (WFH) is here to stay. Working with (and leading) remote employees is a fact of life we need to accept and learn to manage. Two Key Perspectives To effectively deal with, and successfully adjust to working from home, we need to acknowledge that there are (at least) two quite different perspectives on the issue: the employees’ experience and the viewpoint from the organization’s leaders. Many articles and podcasts focus on one or... Continue reading...

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August 24, 2020 9:00 am
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The Benefits of a Vibrant Workplace: Creating Harmony and Positive Energy at Work

Vibrant: full of energy and enthusiasm. Spirited, lively, energetic, full of life. The vibrant workplace connotes energy, positivity, and growth — characteristics we desire for the environment where we spend the majority of our waking hours. A vibrant workplace draws people to it — quality, talented employees want to work in a healthy context and became a part of the life-exuding process. Employees bring their own gifts and unique personalities to add to the synergy in a dynamic work setting. A vibrant workplace is the antithesis of how many work environments are described: negative, energy-sapping, and toxic to growth. Employees... Continue reading...

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August 17, 2020 9:00 am
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Preparing for a Storm – Lessons from Tornado Alley

As a country, it appears likely we are headed for stormy times. Why do I think so?  First, as a psychologist and social scientist, I’m trained to observe patterns in social behaviors that assist us in predicting future likely behavior patterns. Secondly, because I’m from the Midwest in the heart of “tornado alley” and we are experts in being able to see the signs leading to severe weather. And the two sets of patterns and conditions are quite similar. Stormy Weather I’m not going to go through all of the different circumstances that lead up to severe weather in the... Continue reading...

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August 10, 2020 8:55 am
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Building a Strong Team Culture: Valuing & Appreciating Differences in the Workplace

To build a successful and sustainable business, you need a team of employees who bring their unique abilities, strengths and perspectives to the challenges you will face. But to draw and keep talented individuals who have a variety of skills and personality types, you have to learn a key skill: You have to learn how to lead people who are different than you. Many books on leadership provide valuable insights into key skills and abilities needed to effectively lead others. But one concept that is not stressed enough is: to lead a successful team, you have to understand those who are... Continue reading...

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August 3, 2020 9:00 am
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Employees Are People, Not Just Work Units

Let me pose some questions for you:   *Are you a person or just a production unit?   *Do you have a life outside of work? (Think: friends, family, interests) *Are you a person, even at work, beyond your role there and what you get done? While performing one’s job as expected is critical, I firmly believe that people have worth and value no matter their level of performance. Every person is a unique individual created by God, and we all are intrinsically valuable—apart from what we do or accomplish. Many employees at all levels, including managers and supervisors, have... Continue reading...

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July 27, 2020 9:00 am
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Email Etiquette Refresher

A significant portion of our communication happens through email. This is especially true with current work from home set-ups resulting from COVID-19 where communicating properly and effectively through email is essential. Chances are, you’ve misinterpreted an email or had one of your emails misinterpreted at some point in your life. Email can quickly trigger unnecessary conflict. Here are a few tips and reminders to help you use email as an effective communication tool. Don’t read energy or emotion into emails. All you have in email are words, which only account for 7% of communication. The other 93% of communication happens... Continue reading...

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July 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Are You Running Out of Gas? How to Avoid Burning Out

Have you ever run out of gas on a trip?  From personal experience, I can tell you it’s not a fun experience. (Fortunately, the last time this happened to me was several years ago!) Similarly, experiencing burnout in life or at work is painful, as well. The two experiences are quite similar and ones you want to avoid. When your car runs out of gas, the event itself isn’t that bad – the vehicle just stops and you can’t go anywhere, but you can’t get restarted. The consequences that follow are what creates the disruptions in your life.  First, you... Continue reading...

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July 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Reflections: What Is the United States of America?

As a country, we are in the midst of a number of events which have upset our (until recently) normal, daily life activities. This unsettledness has created the opportunity to rethink “who we are” as a country – and who we want to become. I’m not the most reflective person, but I have been thinking about the United States – our history (good and bad), our current status, what makes us the country we have become, and how we are similar to and different from other countries (either current, or those in the past.) What is a Country? Countries are... Continue reading...

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June 29, 2020 8:52 am
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