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#3 - Triggers and reactions triggered by toxic behaviour in those affected

Everyone of us has received different imprints and developed different triggers as a result. These can be triggered, for example, by the feeling of not being seen, being treated unfairly, being punished and rejected or simply because of a certain word or gesture. The range is huge and it is impossible not to be triggered or not to trigger others. In the end, this is a really good thing because it helps us grow, get to know ourselves and others better and, if we succeed, we can grow, develop and heal through these experiences.

The influence of toxic behaviour in the workplace harbours a variety of possible reactions, as the intensity and quality of the experiences can be very intense. This can be particularly confusing in a professional context, as we are often more ashamed and guilty here, because we are more concerned with professionalism and sovereignty in this context. Personal flaws and deficits are unwillingly flaunted here.

Toxic behaviour can include the following patterns in a professional environment: constant shifting of goals, non-transparent communication, generalisations, changing topics, passive aggression, lies, denial, slander, betrayal, deliberate exploitation of insecurity, ignorance, conspiracy, bullying, stirring up fear, emotional abuse and much more.

These forms of behaviour can, among other things, activate the following triggers and trigger possible reactions:

Toxic behaviour can cause anxiety in others, especially if it is threatening or aggressive. It can lead to insecurity and discomfort and fear of further confrontation. This leads to considerable stress, which can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate, headaches or stomach problems.

However, toxic behaviour can also cause anger, especially if it is perceived as unfair or insulting.

It can also trigger sadness and disappointment, especially when it involves people who are close to us, in whom we have opened up and placed our trust.

Another trigger can be "brainfog" - the general confusion that arises, especially if the reasons or motives behind the toxic behaviour are unclear. The question is why someone is behaving this way or what we have done to provoke such behaviour and be at their mercy.

The feeling of helplessness and despair, even powerlessness, when there seems to be no control over the situation or no possibility of changing the other person's behaviour or getting support, are a major consequence. The end result is frustration and resignation.

A common result of toxic behaviour can also be the withdrawal of those affected. They may withdraw from the relationship or interaction with the person in order to protect ourselves and avoid further harm.

Self-doubt and low self-esteem are also possible reactions. Constant criticism, manipulation or derogatory comments can cause us to begin to question ourselves and doubt our worth. In the end, a possible goal of toxic behaviour is to slowly wear the other person down and maintain control.

If someone has repeatedly experienced toxic behaviour, this can lead to an increased distrust of other people in general. This makes it increasingly difficult to trust others and open up to them for fear of being disappointed or hurt again.

Long-term toxic behaviour can even lead to or trigger depression and burnout. Constant negative interactions and a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness can make us feel overwhelmed and severely affect and limit our quality of life.

As a protection against toxic behaviour, there may be a tendency to isolate ourselves and withdraw from social interactions. Situations that are potentially conducive to toxic behaviour are avoided, which can ultimately lead to loneliness and social isolation.

Reactions are very individual and can vary depending on the person, situation and duration of the experience. The subjective experience of toxic behaviour can be very different and is influenced by various factors such as personal resilience, support systems and previous experiences.


It is important to understand what is happening inside you or others affected, what you are feeling and that this is all completely normal and healthy. Toxic behaviour is perfidious. Recognising it is a big first step. Under certain circumstances, this can only become apparent through your unknown or incomprehensible reactions and only then can conclusions be drawn about your situation on the outside. Or vice versa. Anything is possible. It is therefore essential that you are and remain vigilant in order to scan your environment and check for possible sources if you increasingly notice feelings in familiar situations that are familiar to you but unfamiliar in your professional environment.


Of course, not everything is always immediately attributable to toxic or destructive behaviour, but it makes sense to take a closer look, especially if employees or colleagues are making similar comments on certain topics.


Get support to give you confidence in dealing with such personalities!

There is always a solution! Trust yourself!



Coaching offers ideal support here to either take the first steps in conflict management and analysing one's own reaction structures or to directly implement new skills that enable and empower all those involved to learn to deal well and confidently with corresponding situations in relationships. Another option is to act as a mediator or observer and outline a neutral picture of the prevailing relationship patterns in the department or company and use this to provide insights and recommendations for action to the decision-makers.

Trusting that the best possible solution will be allowed to develop and be implemented.


Coaching can provide you with targeted support in overcoming upcoming challenges at every stage - internally in the team or as a leader in the company. Let's work out together how I can provide you in your individual situation with optimal support and customised assistance.

Contact me to take your next steps

Nicole Dildei Coaching

+49 157 58 267 427

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