Categories for Toxic workplaces

Neutralizing Negativity in the Workplace

Negativity is one of the most common, and deeply ingrained, obstacles to a healthy work environment. When working with front-line employees, supervisors and mid-level managers in a variety of industries, a frequent question I hear is, “What can I do to create more positive interactions in my workplace? People are so negative here!” At Appreciation at Work, our focus is on building positive, healthy relationships in the workplace, and we do this primarily by helping people learn how to communicate authentic appreciation, build trusting relationships, and relate to others in a respectful way. But we also have to deal with life... Continue reading...

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June 14, 2021 9:00 am
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Toxic Workplaces Can Kill You (Really)

There’s a difference between a bad job and one that is truly toxic. A toxic work environment can seriously affect your physical and mental health, even to the point of shortening your life. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, linked workplace stress to 120,000 deaths a year in the United States. You don’t have to work with heavy machinery, volatile chemicals, or in extreme weather conditions for your job to be dangerous to your health. Bad workplaces lead to bad health – and even death. When you work in a toxic environment, you face... Continue reading...

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April 19, 2021 9:00 am
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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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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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Want an easy summer read that will help you understand the challenges of working together during a crisis?

It’s summer time – which means “light reading” time. But we are also in the midst of difficult circumstances – working from home, team members spread out, and business / financial challenges. Sync or Swim fits into both categories. Through a fun, story format, you’ll be exposed to various personality types and how they often respond to stress, and you’ll learn practical ways to “pull your team together.” Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish. Sync or Swim is... Continue reading...

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June 24, 2020 11:31 am
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Neutralizing Negativity in the Workplace

At Appreciation at Work, our focus is on building positive, healthy relationships in the workplace, and we largely do this by helping people learn how to communicate authentic appreciation, build trusting relationships, and relate to others in a respectful way. But we also have to deal with life as it exists, and another avenue to building positive relationships is to address the issues that interfere with that process. Negativity is one of the most common, and deeply ingrained, obstacles to a healthy work environment. When working with front-line employees, supervisors and mid-level managers in a variety of industries, a frequent question... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2020 9:00 am
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Sync or Swim: A Fable about Workplace Communication and Coming Together in a Crisis

Since earliest times, fables have been passed on from generation to generation. Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish. Our book, Sync or Swim, helps us solve the frustrating contradiction of morale-building programs that end up hurting morale and of recognition programs resulting in cynicism. The story is written to be a fun, quick read, illustrating ways to communicate appreciation that generate productivity and effective teamwork. Each character responds in different ways to the same situation – as each... Continue reading...

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December 9, 2019 9:00 am
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The Power of Using Stories to Lead

How Effective Leaders Grab the Hearts of their Team Members Most leaders tend to focus on data and factual information. And accurate data is important for making good management decisions. But throughout history, communicating through facts has not been the most utilized method for sharing and developing leadership qualities. Rather, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression. For evidence, look to Greek philosophers, wisdom literature from Asia, and the wide range of stories from multiple cultures across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life. Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Confucius and Jesus all used stories grounded in daily... Continue reading...

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December 2, 2019 9:00 am
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What Can I Do If I Work in a Toxic Workplace?

Negative workplaces, toxic leaders, crazy co-workers – the news and internet are so full of stories about these things that, for many, they fade into the background. But those who work in a toxic environment face an unending cycle of challenging situations and discouragements. Worker turnover because of “toxic” office cultures costs companies money. Since 2010, costs associated with voluntary employee turnover have nearly doubled from $331 billion to $617 billion according to the Work Institute’s 2019 Retention Report. If you only had to deal with one inappropriate coworker or a bad boss, your days might be easier to manage.... Continue reading...

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November 11, 2019 8:59 am
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Podcasts & Authentic Appreciation

Many people may not see any significant relationship between podcasts and authentic appreciation – but there is at least one. Podcasting is a form of communication which has developed rapidly over the past 5-10 years. Formerly, authors (now known as “content producers”) would share their ideas via a variety of media. Articles, books, and then blogs, communicated with the printed word. Radio and television shows and interviews used the oral and visual expression of one’s ideas. Many of these embodied the characteristics of “broadcasting” – casting out your information broadly, to a wide range of people – hoping that you would find those people... Continue reading...

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September 9, 2019 8:55 am
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7 Signs You Work with a Toxic Achiever & 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. But, on the other hand, they create major headaches due to the way they relate to others, their negative conflictual 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... Continue reading...

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June 3, 2019 9:00 am
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How to Deal with Condescending Colleagues

Spend any time in the workforce, and there is a high possibility that you will be made to feel “small” by a colleague talking down to you or devaluing your input.  Taking some time, however, to understand what motivates condescension, as well as learning some strategies to combat it, can help make working with colleagues who tend to be condescending much more tolerable. What motivates condescension? A person who is condescending in their comments toward others often: 1) wants to “win” the discussion, usually by squelching any dissent 2) uses the situation to boost their own self-esteem by tearing down... Continue reading...

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February 18, 2019 8:50 am
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Boost Employee Morale: 3 Simple Steps YOU Can Take

‘Low Staff Morale’ is one of the most common issues leaders report that they struggle with. “We need help,” one manager told me. “People are negative, complaining, and don’t feel like the management cares about anything but getting the work done. And, to be honest, that’s how they have been treated. We need to turn things around.” PRACTICAL STEPS TO TAKE Here are three action steps you can take to improve (your own and) others’ morale: #1: Conduct a Self-Assessment   Ask yourself: What am I doing that isn’t helpful in creating a positive workplace? This could include both actions (complaining about a... Continue reading...

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February 11, 2019 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, recent results from an anonymous survey found 52% of employees report they believe their work environment to be toxic. Is your workplace toxic? All workplaces have some challenges and negative characteristics, so it can be difficult to determine if your workplace has a normal amount of challenges, is seriously dysfunctional, or possibly really toxic. Here are five signs that will help you determine the... Continue reading...

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February 4, 2019 9:00 am
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Employees May Not Love Their Work, But They Can Still Be Engaged: 4 Categories of Work Experience

Employee engagement differs from employee satisfaction. A Gallup poll found that only 32 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs, for instance. Yet employees who don’t love their jobs can and should still be engaged. Custom Insight distinguishes employee engagement from employee satisfaction. Engagement is defined as “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.” Satisfaction relates to “love”—or how happy employees are.  The Purpose and Nature of Work  We must remind ourselves that the primary purpose of work is to provide for our needs—food, shelter, clothing.... Continue reading...

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September 24, 2018 3:14 am
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Combating the ‘My-Boss-Is-a-Jerk’ Blues

It’s still possible to find fulfillment at work when your supervisor is a moron. Two common mantras in our culture today are: “I hate my job” and “My boss is a jerk.” While both statements may be true, hating your job because your boss is a jerk isn’t going to lead anywhere good. According to Gallup, more than half of the U.S. workforce (or about 70 million employees) either are just enduring their job or actively hate where they work. With that level of dissatisfaction, it’s no surprise that we hear so many negative comments – either in personal conversations,... Continue reading...

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August 30, 2018 6:02 pm
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How Do You Survive a Toxic Workplace?

In last week’s blog, we discussed the impact of toxic workplaces on the health of their employees. But what can you do if you find yourself in one of these toxic situations? The key, really, is to not only identify how bad your work environment is but to take action steps to limit its negative impact on your life. Here are some practical steps we found are necessary when a person works in a truly toxic workplace. Protect Yourself Remember a toxic workplace is dangerous, so you have to proactively take steps to protect yourself from the various risks that... Continue reading...

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June 11, 2018 9:00 am
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Toxic Workplaces Can Kill You (Really)

There’s a difference between a bad job and one that is truly toxic. A toxic work environment can seriously affect your physical and mental health, even to the point of shortening your life. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, recently linked workplace stress to 120,000 deaths a year in the United States.  You don’t have to work with heavy machinery, volatile chemicals, or in extreme weather conditions for your job to be dangerous to your health. Bad workplaces lead to bad health – and even death. When you work in a toxic environment,... Continue reading...

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June 4, 2018 8:55 am
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Is Your Receptionist A Good Reflection of Your Culture?

A very quick disclaimer. At no point am I intending to disparage the amazing receptionists and front desk personnel whom I have been acquainted with, over many years, from hundreds of companies. Their job is not an easy one. They are the gatekeepers for the company. Customers and clients face them first whenever they enter a building or office. And they, like all employees hired for the various job responsibilities at a company, are a reflection of the culture and hiring process that recruited them. Let me explain why I am asking if your receptionists are a good reflection of... Continue reading...

December 11, 2017 10:00 am
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What Employees Hate About the Holidays (Poll Results)

Two years ago (2015), in response to a number of negative comments we had received from people regarding the upcoming holidays, we sent out a survey to our e-newsletter subscribers to find out what employees don’t like about the holidays. That year over 1,200 of our readers completed our survey. The results were interesting and found their way into a number of media articles (TV, radio, print). Given that we now have significantly more newsletter subscribers (over 100,000!), and it is two years later, we thought it would be good to revisit the issue. Just before Thanksgiving (2017) we asked... Continue reading...

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November 30, 2017 11:01 am
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Trump’s First 100 Days: How Arbitrary Deadlines Create Stress

Much of the news this past week has been focused on President Trump’s first 100 days in office and what accomplishments have been made in that time frame.  On the one hand, setting a deadline to review progress made on goals seems appropriate; on the other hand, this process is a great example of how setting arbitrary deadlines create unnecessary stress in the workplace. For the President (Trump or otherwise), is there anything magical about 100 days?  Not really.  The time period could be 90 days, 3 months, or 101 days — the length of time is not directly related... Continue reading...

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April 28, 2017 5:09 pm
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How Do You “Appreciate” Difficult People at Work?*

 Let’s be honest, some people are more difficult to work with than others.  There are weird people; angry, irritable colleagues; and people we just don’t understand.  And appreciating these individuals can be even more challenging. Let me share a few tips on how to communicate appreciation to a “difficult” colleague:      Don’t try to fake it.  Whatever you do, don’t try to “act like” you appreciate someone if you really don’t.  Most people have very sensitive “radar” when they believe others aren’t being genuine.  You risk undermining any trust you may have with your colleague if they don’t think... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2017 10:00 am
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How Authentic Appreciation Can Cut Through Government Bureaucracy

Government agencies are extremely concerned about their low levels of employee engagement, and rightfully so. When staff don’t feel valued, they become discouraged, passive, apathetic and cynical. This can result from a variety of factors including not feeling respected by customers, poor communication within the agency, a sense of powerlessness to make improvements, and not ‘heard’ by upper level managers and directors.  The issues seem to be the same whether the agency is at the city, county, state or federal level (but federal employees seem to be the most frustrated.) We receive reports from all levels of government employees (frontline... Continue reading...

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October 24, 2016 9:10 am
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