6 Toxic Relationships You Should Avoid Like The Plague

Dr. Travis Bradberry discusses 6 types of toxic relationships and how to deal with them. 

According to Dr. Bradberry, Georgetown University conducted a study which showed that 98% of people have experienced toxic behavior at work. The results of the study revealed nine ways toxic relationships were found to affect employees and the organization they work for as Dr. Bradberry writes:

  1. 80% lost work time worrying about the incidents.
  2. 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  3. 66% said that their performance declined.
  4. 63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
  5. 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
  6. 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  7. 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.
  8. 12% said that they left their job because of it.
  9. 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.

If you know that you are in a toxic relationship, it is important to find out what makes it toxic.

Dr. Bradberry has found that there are six different things which make working relationships toxic:

1. Relationships that are passive-aggressive.

Passive aggression is most often expressed by people who are afraid of conflict. For this reason, when they feel angered or offended, they will not be open and honest with you but will express their anger in indirect ways instead. This can be frustrating as Dr. Bradberry explains that in the workplace, passive aggression tends to take the form of ‘a drastic reduction in effort’. Furthermore, he states that the solution to the problem is communication. Since it is highly unlikely that a passive-aggressive person will initiate a conversation, it will be up to you to communicate and try to resolve the issue.

2. Relationships that lack forgiveness.

“It’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes at work,” writes Dr. Bradberry. People who hold grudges and fail to understand that it is normal to make mistakes can make it difficult to have a healthy relationship. These people tend to expect the most and forget that they too make mistakes sometimes. In their eyes, a mistake can cancel out all of the good qualities you have displayed up until the point of your error. According to Dr. Bradberry, the only way to deal with this kind of toxicity is to have patience until ‘you dig yourself out of the subjective hole you’re in’.

3. Relationships that are one-sided.

All relationships – both in and out of the workplace – need to be mutually beneficial and equal. In the workplace, this is seen as you often report to someone and also learn from them. Alternatively, you teach someone who reports to you. If, however, you find that you are exhausting yourself by giving more than you are receiving, Dr. Bradberry suggests that you simply stop giving. Admittedly, it is not always easy or possible to stop giving and if this is your case, then you need to have an open and honest conversation with the person who is not doing their fair share of the work.

4. Relationships that are idealistic.

Idealizing people or being idealized can prove to be negative and toxic. Dr. Bradberry explains how if you idealize someone in the workplace, you might treat them and their work differently; in other words, you might overlook errors and mistakes that they make and this can be extremely harmful to the job. For a working relationship to be healthy, boundaries need to be set. Dr. Bradberry suggests working hard to ensure that you remain objective around those you idealize and that you insist to be treated equally if you are the one who is being idealized.

5. Relationships that are punitive.

Punitive relationships are built around punishment; in other words, one might punish the other ‘for behavior that doesn’t align directly with their expectations’. The reason behind this is that the one who punishes does not know how to communicate, give feedback, or try to show understanding. Instead, they create conflict and behave in a toxic manner. Dr. Bradberry explains that when dealing with such a person, it is best to “choose your battles wisely”. In other words, do not argue with them every time that there is a conflict – if you do so, it is likely that you will not be heard and that you will get labeled as sensitive instead.

6. Relationships that are built on lies.

Relationships with people who constantly lie are draining and frustrating. At a certain point, you will find yourself questioning everything you are told and assuming that you are being lied to. If this is the case, then there is a lack of trust in your relationship and this means that it is most probably beyond repair. Dr. Bradberry claims that when it comes to relationships that are built on lies, it is best to just let go and move on.

Pay attention to the people in your life and the relationships you have if you find that they are bringing you down. Ask yourself why that is: Are they constantly lying to you? Do they lack the ability to show compassion and forgiveness? Are they passive-aggressive and incapable of communicating? Whatever the reason may be, make sure that you take a step back and carefully analyze how you can handle the toxic relationship. Sometimes, relationships can be rebuilt and salvaged; sometimes, it is best to just walk away.

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