Three Resources for Healthier ​Workplace Relationships

Sadly, some people experience unhealthy working relationships. Perhaps even toxic.

One of the most common ingredients I see in toxic workplaces is a rigid mindset. And not just from the person being disruptive. It becomes like an infectious virus that spreads like a fog and gets into the cracks of the furniture. “She’ll never change.” “This place doesn’t do anything to fix these issues.” “Why bother?”

This rigidity is rarely accurate. And it’s never helpful.

So what to do when you’re feeling frustrated and unsure that things will improve? Here are a few resources I’ve come across in my almost 20-year career in organizational development and as a professional, certified coach. Of these three tools, pick the one that’s right for you and use in the context of dealing with some of the people in your life that aren’t a healthy influence.

1. Fixed versus Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck’s infamous research around fixed versus growth mindsets, and her bestselling book Mindset can help us to see when our belief system is so rigid it’s unhelpful. It’s particularly powerful in helping us understand just how much a toxic force has seeped into our life – our thoughts, our attitudes, our emotions, our actions. They may have a very rigid black and white, unhealthy view of the world.  And we normally may not see things quite so black and white, but with toxic behaviours, often a rigid mindset begins to set in, at least about this person. It’s hard to come back from that.

Imagine if you had a growth mindset about your opportunity for your relationship and for your workplace, even for your team and how you collaborate. Consider the possibilities of what could be different. That truly is the epitome of a growth mindset.

2. The Choice Map

Another great book is called, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams. When in coaching school, we printed off the Choice Map and I cannot tell you how many hundreds of clients I’ve introduced it to since. When we take the learner path, it brings us to to considering what’s possible, what we most want and the best next step. This is in contrast to the judger path where the focus is on what’s wrong with this person, why don’t things work, why can’t I ever win? One gets us stuck in the judger pit which like quicksand and hard to get thoughts, attitudes and actions unstuck. The learner path, however, opens up and expands our thinking, allows empathy and creates action.

This shift in questions can be transformative in our relationships with people and our sense of help and effectiveness in those relationships.

3. Compassion Satisfaction versus Compassion Fatigue

Often, we find we have a hard time dealing with individuals because we are compassion fatigued and burnt out. I work with many people who are providing direct care, such as nurses, dietitians and doctors, as well as people in frontline service such as customer service, call centres, and hospitality. Middle managers too because if you’re a servant leader, you are providing a service to those who report to you.

Many people I work with are continually serving others and they don’t always have a lot left for themselves. If you’re compassion fatigued, it’s going to be hard to be resourceful and resilient when people push back, when people treat you with disrespect, or even misinterpret what people are saying when actually their intention isn’t to hurt us after all. If you’re not sure if you’re compassion fatigued or not, I have a tool and a resource for you on my website – as well as a few exercises. Check it to evaluate to what extent might you have some of the early signs, right through to some of the strong signs of compassion fatigue.

You see when you have a growth mindset, take the learner path, and work to stay compassion satisfied, what you’ll find is not only do you have healthier relationships, you’re also able to address unhealthy behaviours when they happen.

I hope you found these resources helpful. I’m sure you have tapped into them and you’ve experienced them and of course, if there’s something on the list I’ve missed, why don’t you comment below because together we can make sure that we’re in healthier workplaces and leading lives that allow us to shine and allows our greatness to be present every day.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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