Is your work environment toxic with lots of “staff infections”?

Employees argue and discuss common problems

Here is what many people have emailed me regarding toxic work environments, and they all sound like they work in the same company.

The only difference is the geographic location, the same toxic work environment seems to pop up everywhere.

These companies are scattered around the U.S., actually around the world from Pittsburgh to Paris, Long Island to London, and Milwaukee to Madrid.

Yet they are all infected with the same “staff infection”.

I will respond to all. Here is one of the ways a frustrated senior leader wrote to me:

Hi Dr Sylvia,

I am ready to quit!

Now, this is a big deal because I’m making good money, have great benefits, and I am even in line to be sent to your Total Leadership Connections program in the fall.

However, there is so much backbiting at my company I just don’t know if I can stay.

The toxicity is making it hard to breathe. My nemesis, a woman named Deb is the worst. She sits at her desk and moans so loudly it’s like a bomb going off right in front of us. She complains about everyone and everything.

Nothing satisfies her.

I really think she wants to be fired so she can claim a hostile work environment lawsuit. While we each report to the same Senior VP, he just brushes it off as “Well, that’s Downer Deb at it again.” He says this to himself, although once, he did admit me she is a pain in the butt.

This has been going on for so long I think he has normalized the abnormal.

Do you have any helpful suggestions before I call it quits and look for another job?


Disgusted with Downer Deb

Here is my answer to all who have a Deb or Don or David or a Belinda, or whoever at work that can never be happy no matter what.

In an office, just like in a family, everyone learns to deals with conflict and disappointments in their own way. At some point someone needs to find the courage to stand up to the craziness with decency and dignity.

Guess all of you who have written to me about the “staff infections” are the ones who can make the changes, or at least, give it your best shot before you decide to leave for greener pastures.

Leadership development is important for everyone and it’s up to YOU to help change the dynamics at work.

It’s not that different than speaking up about a difficult family situation. You can learn more about how why most people will bury their heads in the sand rather than speak out at work in my book Don’t Bring It To Work.

For starters, please take a few minutes and look at who you went to as a kid when there were troubles and unfairness at home (yes, we all experienced some form of negativity). Then look at how the issues were resolved.

If you were in a family that avoided or denied the tough stuff you will be more prone to walk away rather than find the courage to face the Debbie Downers.

Look, this situation is impacting YOU or you would not be writing to me.

Therefore, you need to talk to your boss and share your concerns. This will, I promise you, raise your self- esteem and give you the opportunity to be part of the change you want to see.

For all of you living with toxic co-workers.

The courage to dare is the beginning. Please contact me directly so I can help you before you decide to leave a company that is giving you so many perks and possibilities.

Sylvia Lafair