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Ways to Avoid Toxic Positivity at Work

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A positive workplace environment can have substantial impacts on employee performance, well-being, mental health, and much more. On the other hand, overly negative workplaces can induce heightened stress, and make us question if a job is really for us. But a workplace that’s overly positive can have just the same effect, and that’s what’s called toxic positivity

How to identify toxic positivity

In the context of the workplace, toxic positivity manifests as the denial and dismissal of any negativity or adverse experiences. The first step in understanding and avoiding toxic positivity in the workplace is to be able to recognize it. 

To pinpoint indications of toxic positivity, be vigilant for the following markers:

  • Superficial positivity, for example “It’ll all be fine”. 
  • A lack of engagement with concerns that are risen. 
  • Risen concerns not being valued, and instead dismissed.
  • An overarching pattern of denial over negativity. 

How to avoid toxic positivity 

Avoiding toxic positivity at work is vital to ensuring that your workplace culture remains a comfortable and enjoyable place to be. And there are plenty of ways you can make sure you’re doing so: 

  • Listen actively. Cultivate an environment where employees feel genuinely valued by actively listening to their feedback and experiences.
  • Foster transparency. A secretive and discreet atmosphere can breed toxic positivity. Embrace openness within the workplace, as transparent processes build trust. 
  • Hold leaders accountable. Make accountability a priority and ensure it’s evident to all employees. 
  • Acknowledge and appreciate employees. Steering clear of toxic positivity doesn’t imply refraining from positivity altogether. Look to recognise and reward employees for their achievements.
  • Be prepared to offer support. Even if an issue appears minor, providing support can have significant impacts for the employee facing challenges.
  • Avoid detrimental statements. Refrain from using phrases like “It could be worse” or “Be grateful for what you have”. Such advice encapsulates toxic positivity. While situations might indeed have the potential to be “worse”, there remains an existing issue that requires resolution.
  • Promote a coaching culture. Consider implementing a coaching culture, which can empower employees to address challenges proactively and seek continuous improvement.

The balance between a positive work environment and one tainted by toxic positivity is delicate. Making sure that you strike this balance requires commitment to the well-being and growth of your workforce. Ultimately, an authentic and supportive workplace culture, where concerns are acknowledged and addressed, can elevate productivity and foster far happier employee experiences; this allows organisations to create an environment where genuine positivity thrives.

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