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#1 - What's toxic behaviour about? Characteristics of toxic behaviour in the workplace

We are finally beginning to address dark behaviours in the workplace after so many people, regardless of age, gender and position, have suffered from them for decades. For some years now, we have begun to uncover the unhealthy and pathological traits in the private sphere, so that more and more detailed knowledge is becoming known and acceptable.

Uncertainty in dealing with toxic personalities

Nevertheless, so much is still unclear, unknown and we are unsure how to deal with the situation, if we have been able to expose the toxic people at all.

As the daughter of a narcissist, in the end I don't think it's about understanding the 'toxic', but rather about recognising it and having alternative courses of action to protect yourself from it and to be able to deal with the situation well so as not to fall into your own stress reactions - in fight, flight, rigidity or submission, we will experience these encounters to our disadvantage and unfortunately repeat them unnecessarily. The suffering does not diminish, but rather increases.

In the end, the realisation must prevail that it is not your problem. You can't save the other person, you can't help them and, above all, you can't change them. The powerlessness becomes even greater if you don't find ways to deal with it neutrally and confidently.

Backgrounds for toxic behaviour

What you really have to realise again and again is that the other person is really sick. That in most cases they don't recognise what they are doing and, above all, what they are doing as a consequence. And even if it is revealed to him, he will always find a reason why it has nothing to do with him and his behaviour, but that he is the victim. He will twist and turn it until everyone else believes it. Toxic people are true manipulation artists.

They have the gift of using the art of their words to really fuel doubt and manipulate perfidiously. So that you always walk away from conversations feeling guilty and regularly questioning your own reasoning. This can really wear you down over the years, make you feel insecure and call your own personality into question.

Because toxic people only focus on themselves and their own advantages. It's never about understanding the other person or finding a good solution together. Instead, they are solely concerned with being right and emerging victorious from conversations, conflicts and encounters.

One's own greatness depends on putting others down. Their own grandiosity makes everyone else look and feel like idiots. They elevate themselves above everyone else with their manner and thereby legitimise themselves. Toxic people have a lot in common with patriarchs. However, there are of course also other forms that appear "softer" and present more of a victim role, radiating compassion and a need for help.

My feeling is that many people have already had to deal with toxic colleagues, superiors and employees and have almost despaired of them. The last resort was certainly often to resign and change jobs.

Unfortunately, similar characters are often found in the new job. They are unfortunately very common - whether we like it or not. Especially at a certain career level, you will encounter these personality types more often.

Toxic behaviour

How can I recognise toxic behaviour?

o Bullying - this is repeated negative behaviour with the aim of harassment, humiliation and exclusion, both verbally, emotionally and sometimes even physically.

o Micromanagement - constant excessive control and unnecessary interference in tasks and processes create a lack of trust in the team and company.

o Passive aggressiveness - this refers to indirect, hostile behaviour, the spreading of rumours, the omission of important information, ignoring certain colleagues and even outright sabotage and refusal to cooperate.

o Inadequate communication - this leads to a lack of openness and transparency, resulting in misunderstandings, frustration and conflict. Unclear instructions, lack of feedback and ignoring questions lead to the marginalisation of certain people and unsettle the team.

o Excessive competition - this creates a toxic atmosphere due to excessive competition in the team, so that employees only define themselves by their performance and successes and are prepared to disregard values in return.

o Discrimination and harassment

o Constant negative criticism - leads to a negative impact on self-esteem and morale through constant devaluation.

o Unfair treatment - which can particularly affect the allocation of tasks, distribution of resources and promotion.

o Burnout culture - numerous overtime hours, constant pressure without adequate support or recognition jeopardise the health of employees and lead to the loss of valuable resources.

o Lack of empathy and support - this leads to a feeling of isolation and disillusionment.

What can you do?

It is certainly not possible to adhere to all the prescribed values and good ideas for dealing with each other in every situation, always and everywhere, and things will sometimes go wrong. In principle, however, there are positions in which you need to be personally stable and stable enough to live the necessary and appreciative basic values and integrate them into your day-to-day work and management style.

If permanent failures or misbehaviour are noticed, it is important to intervene immediately. This used to be really difficult because, on the one hand, you don't want to denounce anyone, you always felt exposed to the risk of rejection and your own perception was called into question, so that the fear of rejection gained the upper hand. On the other hand, a complaint about conspicuous behaviour should also be treated with caution, as this can also be tantamount to denunciation.

Who speaks the truth in the end? Who may have a vested interest in one or the other being pilloried? How can such issues be resolved?

Because toxic behaviour is possible in all situations, has many facets and must also be considered individually, as it manifests itself differently from personality to personality.

Certainly, in recent decades, people have often remained silent, persevered and not acted out of fear of disadvantage, the threat of losing their job, possible misunderstandings and self-doubt, and even possible self-inflicted guilt.

Opportunities for personal development

It may sound absurd and paradoxical, but... dealing with toxic people harbours great opportunities for personal development. Especially when it comes to setting boundaries, self-determination, self-worth, clarity and self-confidence. It may sometimes be a long road to get there, but in the end you will emerge from these encounters stronger as a healthy person - this is my personal experience and may give you courage if you find yourself in such a situation.

The art or strength, the awareness and the energy not to fall back into self-doubt, not to constantly question yourself, not to constantly overthink and, above all, to make yourself small again and exceed your own limits, to live in fear and act full of insecurity, are truly skills that no one can take away from you.

Or, for example, falling back into people pleasing, wanting to please again, putting your own opinion on the back burner and ducking away - all well-known behavioural patterns that may initially lull us into a sense of security, but in the medium to long term lead to self-denial and the disintegration of our own personality. This is what the toxic person consciously or unconsciously wants in the end - for whatever reason.

Consequences of toxic behaviour

In fact, toxic behaviour has serious consequences for employees, including reduced productivity, increased turnover, increased sick leave and even long-term psychological effects. Companies or managers should actively seek to promote a healthy work environment and identify and address toxic behaviours in order to maintain the well-being and performance of their employees.

However, as every situation is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with toxic behaviour in the workplace. Therefore, use your judgement and, if necessary, seek professional support to respond appropriately to the situation.

There is still a lot of research to be done and appropriate early warning signals and assistance to be implemented in companies. Unfortunately, toxic behaviour is everywhere and can now be seen everywhere due to increasing transparency.

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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