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  1. How to handle the toxic employee in the workplace

    November 17, 2014 by Jenna

    During your career life-cycle, you may end up working with someone that you may not see eye to eye with. Individuals that can be placed in any of the following categories – complainers, controllers, gossipers, bullies, judges, or someone who is not flexible with accepting another opinion or feedback. This can make your working environment tense, it can increase stress levels and it can also give you a more negative outlook towards work. However, there are ways to rise above it so that it won’t affect you on a daily basis.

    An article on by Travis Bradberry on SBS News provided insight on How to Handle Toxic People and I have highlighted the most important points to share from this article below:

    Don’t give up too easily

    It’s important to fight through another day, that’s what all great successors do, even if there are toxic individuals in your workplace. Try and be aware of your emotions and respond appropriately so that you can stand your ground when the time is right. If you leave your emotions unchecked and let items build up, it can lead to more damage than good.

    Stay aware of your emotions

    You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognise when it’s happening. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to regroup and choose the best way forward. Buying yourself time to assess the situation can often save an emotional reaction or putting your foot in your mouth by saying something that isn’t necessary.

    Giving yourself some time to assess a situation can also allow you to provide a better and more calculated response to set the situation straight.

    Establish Boundaries

    When you need to face your toxic co-worker on a daily basis it can feel like you are in a trap that you can’t get out of. You may think that this is out of your control and you can feel defeated and have to put up with being in their presence 24/7.

    If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. You can establish boundaries, just make sure you do it consciously and proactively. Otherwise you could find yourself getting wrapped up in difficult conversations or situations more often than you have to.

    Don’t let anyone limit your joy

    When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they have done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take away from them.

    While we value feedback and opinions of others, we don’t have to compare ourselves with other people and it’s important to take options with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

    Don’t focus on the problems – only solutions

    When you fixate on the problems you are facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus your actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

    By focusing your attention on the toxic person, you are giving them exactly what they want. It gives them a sense of power over you. By focusing on how to handle the toxic person as opposed to thinking about how troubling they are, you are effectively putting yourself back into control and it will help with reducing stress when this person is around you.

    Squash negative-talk

    There is nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either help intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary and self-defeating. You should avoid negative-talk at all costs.

    Use your support system

    To deal with toxic people, you need to recognise the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Having someone provide a solution who does not have an emotional connection to the situation can really open up a new perspective.

    Test different methods

    You will be faced with different tests when it comes to dealing with difficult people and interactions. This will involve practicing different behaviours, and sometimes learning from failure. However, the more techniques you try (as each individual behaves differently) the more you will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

    In summary, the best way to handle working with a difficult person is to first understand your own emotional reactions and knowing what makes you tick. That way you can better establish how to avoid setting off a time bomb and keeping the workplace functioning in harmony. It will also help to maintain a positive outlook to your role and your working environment.

    Have you recently faced a toxic or difficult person in your workplace? How did you handle it? What worked and didn’t work?

  2. End Boring Meetings!

    August 9, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


    Meetings. We all have to attend them. Sometimes we actually need to. But it is an incredibly common bugbear of most professionals that meetings get in the way of actually doing work. 

    Our online survey last week asked: “What is the #1 reason meetings are a waste of time?” 

    It ended up being a tie for first place. More than 20% of respondents selected both “No set agenda or purpose for the meeting” and “Meeting turns into a pointless gab-fest because no-one is in control”. 

    One financial services manager I personally asked this question of did not draw breath for at least two minutes as he described (somewhat more colourfully than I will paraphrase here) his feelings about meetings: “I spend more than half my time in meetings on an average day. Frequently, the meeting commences and after about three minutes I find myself thinking ‘why am I here?’ There is no clear purpose, no set agenda, no notes are provided or taken, and no-one is assigned to any action items at the conclusion. Utterly pointless. 

    “Another thing I hate is when people attending the meeting have not come prepared by reading any of the pre-meeting information provided. Half of the meeting is wasted bringing them up to speed. 

    “It is also extremely annoying when the person who has called the meeting is unwilling or unable to maintain control over the pace and length of the meeting because they allow attendees to talk endlessly about the meeting’s topic or, worse still, get off topic altogether. Someone has to run the meeting, even with clients. Especially with clients. Some of the clients I deal with have all day to talk. I don’t.”

    Right then. 

    Knowing all of this, is there such a thing as a worthwhile meeting? Of course there is, but, as Dr Ken Hudson, author of the international series “The Idea Generator, The Idea Accelerator and Speed Thinking”, says: “I may be being harsh on corporate Australia, but making the most out of meetings seems to be lost on most managers.” * 

    So, what can be done? Here are some tips for effective meeting management to guide you (or your organisation’s meeting organisers – pass this on!) through preparing and running a meeting that people want to attend and actually benefit from **: 

    1 – Plan the Meeting: Effective meetings that produce results, begin with meeting planning. First, identify whether other employees are needed to help you plan the meeting. Then, decide what you hope to accomplish by holding the meeting. Establish doable goals for your meeting. The goals you set will establish the framework for an effective meeting plan. 

    2 – Make Sure You Need a Meeting: You may find that you can accomplish the meeting goals with an email discussion or by distributing and requesting information through the company newsletter. Make sure the meeting is needed and not just convenient for you – you’ll get better results from attendees. 

    3 – Ensure Appropriate Participation at the Meeting: If a meeting is the appropriate means to accomplish your goals, check with the participants who must attend for the meeting to succeed. The needed attendees must be available to attend the meeting. 

    4 – Distribute and Review Pre-work Prior to the Meeting: You can make meetings most productive and ensure results by providing necessary pre-work in advance of the actual meeting. The more preparation time you allot, the better prepared people will be for your meeting. 

    5 – Effective use of meeting time builds enthusiasm for the topic. It generates commitment and a feeling of accomplishment from the participants. People feel part of something bigger than their day-to-day challenges. Therefore, a well-facilitated, active meeting, that sets the stage for follow-up, will produce meeting results. 

    6 – Effective Meeting Facilitation: An effective facilitator, who keeps participants on track, ensures the accomplishment of expected, desired results from the meeting. 

    7 – Use the Pre-work in the Meeting: You reinforce the need for participants to spend the time needed upfront to review material that is integral to accomplishing the desired results. 

    8 – Involve Each Participant in Actions: Every work group has various personalities that show up for meetings. You have quiet co-workers and people who try to dominate every platform. Whether facilitating or attending the meeting, you need to involve each attendee in the accomplishment of the meeting goals. 

    9 – Create an Effective Meeting Follow-up Plan: During the meeting, make a follow-up plan with action items, including: the specific action item, the name of the person who committed to “owning” the accomplishment of the action item, the due date of the action item, and an agreement about what constitutes completion of the action item. 

    10 – Publish Meeting Minutes: Begin by publishing your minutes and action plan within 24 hours. People will most effectively contribute to results if they get started on action items right away. 

    11 – Effective Meeting Follow-up: Following the meeting, each person with an action item should also make a plan for their personal accomplishment of their commitment. Whether they write the steps in their planner, delegate the tasks to another staff person, or just complete the task, the individual is responsible for follow-up. So is the meeting planner. Your goal is to check progress and ensure that tasks are underway. Remember that what you ask about gets accomplished.


    * Too Many Meetings Hurting Business

    ** Effective Meetings Produce Results: Tips for Meeting Management

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