200. Expert Interview: How to Survive a Toxic Workplace
Dr. Paul White
Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, speaker, and consultant who makes work relationships work. Co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, and Sync or Swim, Dr. White’s expertise has been cited in Bloomberg’s Businessweek, Entrepreneur.com, FastCompany, FoxBusiness.com, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo! Finance, and numerous other publications. His clients include Fortune 250 companies, federal government agencies, international non-profit organizations, numerous medical institutions, and over 250 colleges and universities.
How to Survive a Toxic Workplace
While working with companies about “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” Paul recalls, “People kept coming up to tell me stories about how bad their workplace was, and what a jerk their boss was, and that kind of stuff. All this negative feedback just surprised and overwhelmed me. So we wound up doing some research and wrote a book called Rising Above a Toxic Workplace. We have continued to work in this area.”
Why Is This Important?
“It’s unfortunate how negative some workplaces seem to be, and most people don’t even know whether their workplace is toxic or not. One of the first things we did was develop an assessment tool called the Ratings of Toxic Symptoms Scale, to get a sense of: Is this normal work? Is this bad? Is it really unhealthy? Or is it sort of deadly? With this information, we began to look at the areas that make up a toxic place, and then help people deal with it. I’m not about making people into victims.”
What Are the Key Lessons Learned Here?
“We identified three key pieces that make a workplace toxic: 1) a sick system, 2) toxic leaders, and 3) dysfunctional colleagues. Of course, there are behavior patterns around each of those. So when you have those three components involved, it can be a pretty nasty place to work. You can’t turn things around by yourself, but you can make a difference in your workplace by how you do your work, and how you relate to people. You can focus on honest, direct communication. At some point you’ve got to ask, ‘Is this a healthy place for me?’ If the answer is no, you need an exit plan.”
Connecting With Dr. Paul White
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