Toxic Personalities in the Workplace– Bad, Even Evil… Business Behavior: Bullies, Narcissistic, Machiavellian, Psychos…

Toxic personalities– many workplace environments are very much like swimming with sharks… there are people in the workplace that are often described with the terms; difficult, narcissistic, workplace bullies, passive-aggressive personalities… these behavioral types are common in many workplace environments… and in order to thrive and even survive in these workplaces, a person must recognize the behavioral characteristic of these toxic personalities and learn how to deal with them… also, you must be attentive to the possibility that the toxic behaviors may only be a symptom of a much more serious dysfunctional organization…

Toxic is a fairly recent term used to describe these behaviors, which often have effects that are more far-reaching than just occasional bad day at the office. According to Mitchell Kusy; toxic personalities are people who demonstrate a pattern of counter-productive work behaviors, which is debilitating not only to the individual worker themselves, but also to the other workers, managers, work teams, organizations… these behaviors include; negative attitudes, rudeness, manipulation, blaming, criticizing, inability to see other perspectives, sense of entitlement… Within these work environment, toxic behavior makes it difficult to build teamwork and are often a cause for attrition…

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However,  in order to apply the label ‘toxic’ these behaviors have to be pervasive, meaning they occur most of the time, if not always, and they have the potential to cause serious damage in the work environment…  According to Dr. Mitchell Kusy and Dr. Elizabeth Holloway; during economic downturns, the ‘shadow’ side of our personalities can bring out the worst in people… Toxicity spreads like a nasty virus

Perhaps the worst part about noxious workplace behavior is how it affects those around you… in a study  94% of respondents said they had worked with or were currently working with a toxic person… Before you know it, you have caught the ‘infection’ and find yourself acting in ways that complement or replicate the very behaviors that are making you angry, frustrated and/or depressed…

According to Simon Baron-Cohen; lack of empathy is the root cause of all toxicity..empathy is ability to identify what someone else is thinking, feeling… and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion… People who lack empathy see other people as mere objects….

In the article Identifying a Toxic Workplace by Dave Chapma writes: Does your company confront aggressive people about inappropriate behaviors? Does it warn bullies about dealing fairly with others and follow company values? Does it investigate charges of back-stabbing and manipulation? If so, consider yourself fortunate. You are in a healthy workplace, with people in power who will support the fight with a bullies…

On other hand, do they turn a blind eye to bullying? Do they encourage or reward bullying behaviors? Does a workplace bully usually get his way? Is bullying behavior the norm rather than the exception? In that case, you are probably in a toxic workplace… Even if you aren’t directly bullied; the fumes off this behavior may get you. The dominant culture of the workplace has a huge impact on the ability to effectively deal with a workplace bully.

Don’t even think about fighting bullying until you get a good handle on the larger work environment… In a toxic workplace, dysfunctional attitudes and emotions permeate the atmosphere… Signs of toxic workplace are: widespread anger, frustration, discontentdysfunctional processes… dysfunctional relationships… dysfunctional meetings… obvious hypocrisy in the company… overly restrictive systems for controlling people…

In a toxic workplace, upper management has unknowingly displayed attitudes and imposed policies that have created an environment favorable to bullies, hostile to everyone else… In smaller companies, workplace bullies often thrive when the owner isn’t involved in day-to-day operations. His remoteness from employees gives a free reign to a bully…

In larger companies, a rigid managing hierarchy may create a similar degree of remoteness, particularly when managers restricts communication in an upward direction. Even if executives brag about an open-door policy, they are probably unreceptive to complaints about bullying… And, if you corner them about the problem, they may label you as a troublemaker…  In a toxic workplace, top executives may have been isolated for so long that they stopped caring about their employees’ well-being— but, it’s irrational for management to ignore the morale of people upon whom company’s performance depends…

Many top executives rise to their position by bullying others… When they see others using the same tactics, they are impressed. They welcome the bully as one of their own kind. They admire their many ‘qualities’, such as shrewdly exploiting employees to generate more income for executive bonuses…

Once a bully becomes part of the management group, it takes a near disaster to weaken their power. If anyone threatens the bully, management closes ranks… and, if you complain about the bullying, they then treat you as the problem: You are called ‘disruptive’, ‘troublemaker’… If you are in a toxic workplace, and none of your effort to change the toxic culture are successful, then you are probably better off just acknowledging that the people in charge have limited mental capacity and go find a healthier place to work…

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In the article Tyranny of Toxic Managers by Roy Lubit writes: Toxic managers are a fact of life… In fact, some managers are toxic most of the time, and most managers are toxic some of the time. Knowing how to deal with people who are– rigid, aggressive, self-centered or exhibit other types of dysfunctional behavior can improve your own health and that of others in the workplaceToxic managers dot the landscape in most organizations making them seem, at times, like war zones… These managers can complicate your work, drain your energy, compromise your sanity, derail your projects, destroy your career…

Difficult managers are fact of work… their affect on your life depends on the skills you develop to deal with them The issue is not only matter of individual survival, but also toxic managers divert people’s energy from  the real work of the organization... they destroy morale, impair retention, and interfere with cooperation and information sharing… Their behavior, like a rock thrown in a pond, cause ripples that distort an organization’s culture and affecting people far beyond the point of impact… We’ve identified four types of toxic managers;

  • Narcissistic Managers: Narcissistic managers are grandiose, arrogant, preoccupied with their own importance… they lack empathy and devalue others, and have little, if any, conscience…
  • Aggressive Managers: Aggressive or ruthless managers perceive the world as a dog-eat-dog competition in which people are out to get you. In their eyes, if you are not a predator, you will become someone’s prey. They are narcissistic, lack empathy, not concern for the well-being of others…
  • Rigid Managers: Rigid or compulsive managers insist on doing things their way… They are always right and they live in a world of– ‘should’ and ‘should have’… they believe that rigid hierarchies are the best way to run organizations…
  • Impaired Managers: Impaired or mentally challenged managers who at one time or another, suffer from some mental or social behavioral condition that affect how they manage people… these issues costs business billions of dollars a year in lost productivity…

In the article Malignant Personalities: Face of Evil by Symeon Rogers writes:  If you work in a large organization of any kind, chances are you know people who just don’t seem to play by the same rules as everyone else, people who are happy to manipulate, discard others, and who say or do anything to protect their image, and nothing to protect the values and vision of the organization.  Knowing what these personalities are about, what causes them, how they are wired and how to protect yourself is essential for your personal resilience in the workplace, and life in general…

These toxic personalities are known as the ‘dark trio’: They are three personality types recognized by psychologists as having the most toxic effect in the workplace, namely; narcissism, Machiavellian personality, psychopathy… these three personalities types share one common trait– lack of empathy; for them it’s an egocentric world…  use of people without regard for their well-being. Research into the behavior of these personalities in corporate culture has consistently shown that while occasionally they may seem to do the organization good, they eventually bring it crashing down…

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A study by Dotlich and Cairo found that arrogance, the hallmark of all toxic personalities, was among the major causes of management  failure… None of these toxic personalities are inclined to, or capable of, serving the collective good… The first thing to realize is that you’re not going to change the ‘dark trio’ personalities; mediation, counseling, and the whole stockpile of institutionalized ‘play nice’ mechanisms are utterly useless in terms of changing their behavior in the long run…

These three toxic personalities types inevitably sow the seeds of their own downfall… If all of this sounds rather cold, it should: The rules that govern ordinary conflicts with people, on the normal personality range, do not apply... The truth is– they are dangerous by nature to everyone around them and toxic to any environment they enter… and the sooner they are denied the opportunity to harm others, the better…

You have probably have taken at least one personality test, possibly: DiSC Profile, Myers-Briggs, IDAK, others…  And apparently, the presumption is that inherit in these types of personality tests there are indicators that will uncover, identify… individuals that are, or might be, toxic personalities… but unfortunately in many cases, either these tests are falling short, or toxic personalities are very clever when they take them…

According to Karl Albrecht, Ph.D; you are, either ‘toxic’ or ‘nourishing’… Social intelligence (SI) is a range of a person’s ability to get along with other people, and one of the basic concepts of ‘SI’ is the contrast between ‘toxic’ behavior and ‘nourishing’ behavior... We can think of ‘toxic’ people as those who consistently behave in ways that make other people feel; devalued, inadequate, frustrated, guilty…

In contrast, ‘nourishing’ people consistently behave in ways that make other people feel; valued, capable, loved, respected, appreciated… Each of us can think of our overall pattern of interactions with other people as a mixture of behavior type that is  positioned somewhere along the spectrum between ‘toxic’ and ‘nourishing’…