Criticism, defensiveness, contempt & stonewalling are killing your professional and personal relationships.

What does it feel like when there is a toxic team culture? Not great. However, what happens when it turns into a culture of bullying? You might think that this is a problem that only children experience but multiple studies show that bullying shows up in the corporate world, as well as the playground.

Is there a way to implement anti-bullying prevention methods? 

Anti-bullying courses have trained thousands of teachers and staff worldwide to counter bullying, not just between children but also to be aware of the unintended impact of toxic behaviours between the adults (meaning, the faculty and parents). These methods can be implemented in the corporate world. 

Statistics around workplace bullying, even pre-pandemic, were troubling. In an article by Forbes, a 2019 survey by Talent Recruitment agency found that nearly 94% out of 2081 employees had been bullied in the workplace, and over half (51.1%) were bullied by a boss or manager. Aggressive emails (23.3%), negative gossip (20.2%) and someone yelling at them (17.8%) were the most common forms of overt – and covert – forms of bullying.    

Rings a bell? These are just some examples of the impact toxic communication can have in a system. Throw into the mix that employees globally are now preferring to quit their jobs in their millions in what is being called the ‘Great Resignation’ following the pandemic – and an awareness of toxic behaviour takes on an all new importance for team leaders. 

Criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling are lethal for everyone

From the workplace to the school yard, and for professional relationships to personal relationships, criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling have been identified by psychologist Dr. Gottman as the most universal toxic behaviours in communication. 

As years of research on the neuroscience of coaching shows, shifting to a coaching culture, and focussing on relationship, may be the antidote. By taking a ‘Coach Approach’ we focus on the whole person and the wider context of the situation. It allows us to have a better understanding of the ‘why’ behind the toxic behaviour and a deeper insight into the motivation of the individual – and ourselves. 

‘Behind every toxic communication and behaviour pattern is a need or longing that hasn’t been seen, heard or understood’ 

When we shift to the perspective of the statement above, we tap into a space of curiosity and learn how to build on our emotional intelligence. We strengthen our existing relationships by giving space to all voices to be heard, acknowledged and to what we have in common: even when we are in conflict, we all share a 2% truth.

Too many Toxins? It’s not too late to reverse them! 

Inspired action station ➡️ Download & print this guide from The Gottman Institute and place it somewhere where you can see it at work or at home.


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ORS@Work is a team building course designed to connect great humans to great teams. Train your leaders, faculty & people to build stronger relationships and prevent toxins & bullying. Universal tools for Businesses and Schools. 

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