Criticism, Corrections, or Contradictions

If you have these three anywhere in your life – friends, family, colleagues, managers, leaders – then you are immediately being prevented from achieving your full potential. The difficulty is remembering that it is not you and it’s not your fault.

Left unchallenged the behaviour of others will have a detrimental effect on you – it will take hold, sap your confidence, diminish your motivation, and destroy your ability to think creatively for yourself. You will find yourself relying on the person or persons who exhibit these traits to control you and your thoughts.

Yes, this is toxic. While taking action is difficult, taking no action can be worse.

Looking at the purely professional relationships needed to be an effective team player, the dynamics can significantly influence our lives and overall wellbeing. Recognising the toxic traits of others and their influence on you, and finding support, is crucial for a healthy individual and working environment. What are the expectations of a supportive line manager and working environment?

  • Criticism, inherently, isn’t malevolent. When applied constructively, it’s a starting point for professional growth. But there’s a fine line. When criticism becomes consistent it loses its constructive edge and veers into a personal attack – something much darker and more damaging.

    Toxic criticism often strikes at your emotions, leaving professionalism a distant thought. It’s vague, devoid of actionable insights, and sometimes, is wielded as a tool for public embarrassment rather than private improvement. In contrast, a supportive manager transforms criticism into a tool for empowerment. They offer specific, respectful feedback, fostering an environment where growth is a shared journey, not a solitary struggle.

  • Corrections, when applied constructively, can be a basis for learning. Yet, when these corrections become suffocating, they can strangle creativity and erode self-confidence.

    Toxic correction often manifests as micromanagement, a relentless scrutiny that leaves little room for creativity and free thought. It may also take the form of disregarding the expertise of team members or overcorrecting to assert dominance. The expectation from a supportive manager here is a stark contrast – a blend of trust and autonomy, paired with guidance that mentors rather than dominates.

  • Contradictions are the creators of confusion in the workplace. They surface as mixed messages, unpredictable reactions, and shifting goals, making the workplace a labyrinth of frustration. The antidote to this chaos is a manager who values consistent communication and stability, ensuring that goals are clear and feedback is reliable.

Creating a nurturing work environment looks beyond merely addressing toxic traits and toxic individuals. It’s about fostering an open culture of respect, trust, and communication. A supportive environment is underpinned by empathy and understanding, where managers strive to see the potential of their team and the individuals and encourage personal growth. It’s an environment that champions development and places a premium on the mental and emotional wellbeing of its members.

The impact of toxic relationships in the workplace can be profound, affecting individuals and organisations alike. By identifying and addressing these corrosive traits – criticism, corrections, and contradictions – and by setting the stage for supportive management, we can pave the way for a harmonious, productive, and respectful work environment.

Photo by Daniel Watson on Unsplash