Thursday, February 16, 2012

Toxic Communication in Today's Workforce

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at the HRPA conference here in Toronto on Toxic Communication and how it impacts performance. This seems to be a topic very prevalent in so many work places these days.

Toxic communication patterns can run the range of the gossip at the watercooler, to the rolling of eyes during presentations, the "here we go again", the subtle (or not) ignoring during meetings by leaving or disconnecting on a blackberry, or the more obvious name-calling or berating.

Toxic behavior is normal - what is not is when it goes to the extreme. My team coaching partner Sharon Miller and I typically use the following definition for toxic behavior -

A Toxic Relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner.

The cost of toxicity in today's workplace is huge. A study by Porath and Pearson (2009) found the following impact on employees:
  • 48% decreased their work effort
  • 47% decreased time at work
  • 38% decreased work quality
  • 68% said their performance declined
  • 80% said they lost time worrying about it
  • 63% lost time avoiding the person
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined

Consider the following:

What toxic communication patterns are present in your organization? Within your team?

What is the cost of this?

What is needed to address/change the communication patterns?

Warm regards


Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC

Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)

Potentials Realized

Team Coaching, Facilitation and Training

Phone: (416)996-8326

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