What We’re Reading Now: Surviving the Toxic Workplace

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That famous saying by Confucius has circulated from generation to generation, providing hope and drive for countless workers. Unfortunately, what that wonderful sentiment doesn’t take into account is the fact that most jobs involve working with other people, and no matter how much you love your work, people aren’t always so easy to love.

In Linnda Durré’s recent book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace, she delves into the “people” element of work and provides a practical plan for dealing with “Staff Infections.” These infections go far beyond bickering around the water cooler. Not only do “many people feel helpless and hopeless in confronting problems at work,” “companies lose billions of dollars each year because of miscommunication, poor time management, alcoholism and drug addition, high turnover, and lowered productivity” – all of which are either causes or symptoms of negative workplace behaviors.

From talking with noxious co-workers to working with poisonous mangers to dealing with hostile workplace conditions, Durré shows you how to identify these behaviors, helps you understand why they happen, and empowers you to confront hazardous behaviors in your workplace.

Identify the Problem
From the results of a simple quiz, Durré reveals if you’re in the middle of a toxic workplace. Have you had to lie to cover up another co-workers affair? Are you doing the work of multiple people and still getting the same salary? Have you been asked to do anything illegal, unethical, or immoral? Does your company have high absenteeism, increased turnover, petty policies, and regular unconstructive conflict? These are just a few signs of a destructive workplace.

Understand Why It Happens
There are always reasons behind behaviors, and while they don’t make it okay, being empathetic and considerate of those reasons can go a long way when you’re trying to fix an issue with another person. Durré explains the top 14 basic motivators, including ambition, insecurity, power, and acceptance, and how they spur specific behaviors.

Empower Yourself to Act
From eliminating weasel words and escape clauses, such as “try” and “whatever,” to interpreting body language, learning the most effective way to communicate will empower you to deal with the problem head-on. The book offers valuable examples of how to confront a variety of harmful people and habits in the workplace, such as “The Socially Clueless,” “The Politically Incorrect,” and “The Saboteur.”

Employee stress and miscommunication can directly lead to decreased workplace morale, increased turnover, and decreased productivity and profitability. Surviving the Toxic Workplace is a great resource, whether you’re a boss trying to determine if your workplace is harming your employees or a self-leader trying to remedy your current situation.

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