The Toxic Workplace: How to Deal With Politically Incorrect Co-Workers
Orlando-based author Linnda Durre' is an expert on workplace toxicity. A licensed psychotherapist, Durre' is highly experienced with all kinds of productivity polluters and corporate culture morale-killers. From her years of counseling, writing, speeches, workshops and seminars, Durre' has mastered the art of spotting toxic personalities in all types of workplaces, and has developed a book outlining the most effective methods for dealing with those polluters.
In her book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace, Durre' has devoted a chapter to what she calls the "politically incorrect," and how the behavior of these people can quickly sabotage everything from worker productivity to employee happiness and morale.
Who are the politically incorrect?
"The politically incorrect are motivated by fear and ignorance because they usually have had negative encounters with a few people and have generalized that to include an entire race, class, ethnic group, creed, sexual preference, and/or gender," Durre' says.
Because this group includes a wide variety of people, it is no wonder that their personality traits can run the gamut as well. These people can be mean, angry, stubborn, close-minded, anxious, scared, or fearful, just to name a few traits. The main similarity among these people is that they emanate negativity, which can adversely affect the people and environment around them.
Durre' says that the politically incorrect are "usually thoroughly indoctrinated by antiquated belief systems, usually through their parents, relatives, neighbors, religious organizations, schools, communities and /or social groups."
The politically incorrect types
- The Hater – They hate various races, ethnic groups, religions, countries etc.
- The Sexist – They categorize whom they hate; men, for example
- The Ageist – They hate young people, they hate old people
- The Homophobe –They hate gays
- The Wasteful Ones – They have no respect for money, time, conservation, ecology, trees, or the Earth
- The Non-PC Joke Teller – They are insensitive and tell racist, ethnic, ageist, sexist, and homophobic jokes either in front of their target audience or behind their backs
Tactics for dealing with the politically incorrect
For dealing with these less-than-desirable personality traits, Durre' recommends:
- Education –Teach by example
- Patience – Help them to become more tolerant
- Friendliness – Kill them with kindness
- Firm Boundaries – Communicate openly with them to help them become more open-minded
Today's workplace is challenging. Many people do not want to be the one to confront a politically incorrect coworker, but Durre' encourages people to do exactly that, in order to make the workplace more pleasant for everyone: "Take (toxic co-workers) aside privately, talk directly to them, look them in the eye, and say what you have to say to their face."
The sandwich technique (positive, negative, positive) is an effective way to get all of your points across in a clear and concise way. For example, start off with a positive compliment, then transition into the negative feedback (the problem) , and then end the conversation on a positive, upbeat note. Be sure to use the word "and" instead of "but", because and is an inclusive word that makes both parts of the statement true; whereas "but" negates what precedes it.
If talking with the toxic co-worker does not prove useful, Durre' recommends bringing the HR department into the situation to help resolve the issue.