- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Organizational culture, Counterinsurgency Field Manual (1 of 5): What to do with toxic people.

Toxic people. A sample. The top 12 to watch:

  1. The bully who is not challenged
  2. The bully who is not challenged because he does not mean it, it’s Peter, come on, you know him
  3. The professional skeptical
  4. The conspiracy theorist who sees hidden, Machiavellian, cunning intentions in anything the leadership says or does
  5. The defeatist who profess ‘we will never change, we are what we are’
  6. The powerful who exercises indiscriminate power
  7. The powerful who exercises indiscriminate power and is secretly admired for doing so
  8. The negative, half empty, depressing, sky is always falling
  9. The just-in-time-moral-ground-cum-high-horse arriving to save everybody.
  10. The tyrannical, disruptor, usually narcissistic, psychopath team member, boss, Vice President or chief receptionist.
  11. The sceptical, cynical, sarcastic, who usually thinks he is very clever and funny
  12. The professional victim (probably the most dangerous)

Remember, they all do exist ONLY because they have an audience, big or small. They are reinforced by all of us by doing nothing, nodding, giving them airtime, putting up with them on behalf of peace, let alone agreeing with them, sometimes secretly.

Toxic people with an audience multiply toxicity. Toxic people with no audience have stomach ulcers.

Model one: challenge. That may not work in itself. It all depends on the symmetric power between you and the toxic. But sometimes, the never-challenged toxic gets shocked when challenged for the first time. Tip: don’t do it alone, bring others with you. Not millions, just a few. It’s a way to both protect a bit of yourself and show that it’s not a personal war.

Model two. There may be around more than one of those toxic people. You may not be able to challenge one by one, or being in front of them. If there is an epidemic of nastiness, craft a counter epidemic of goodness. Never fight a negative behavioural epidemic from within. Craft a counter-epidemic powerful enough to take over. Michele Obama’s ‘if they go low we go high’ is spot on. Go high in mass, that is. If the toxic go low, you don’t discuss their lowness nastiness in public. That gives airtime to low and nastiness, whilst zero time to goodness. Your public airtime is precious. Use it with the positive. Yes, it may annoy the toxic because they expect the fight , particularly if they are in moral superiority mode. Which is pretty normal for them.

There is no contradiction between model one and mode two. One is individual confrontation. Two is group counter-epidemic. You then work in those two fronts, the individual ‘node in the network’ and the ‘positive critical mass’ that will attract others and others. The Law of Preferential Attraction in networks is on your side. Enough density of a positive network (in epidemic, expanding mode) will attract more and more positive people. But you need a critical mass.

PS: Never reply to a nasty tweet. Don’t do nothing either. Tweet twenty good things. Overwhelm with positive charm to the Toxic Group. Recomend Proton Pump Inhibitors (anti-acid drugs) to the lonely Toxic.