Being a positive person and influencing others to be positive is a skill that all leaders must master in order to be successful. However, we need to be careful not to be overly positive because that can lead to dismissing the feelings of others. This is why it is important to discuss addressing toxic positivity in the workplace.
Toxic Positivity is an attempt to be encouraging but ends up being unintentionally harmful as valid negative emotions are disregarded. People’s feelings are valid & they need to be listened to. If you do not listen to your employees, they will not trust you. You cannot hide your emotions under a veil of positivity, you have to deal with your emotions & learn to deal with others too.
Examples of Toxic Positivity
Some examples of toxic positivity include overly positive responses to the valid concerns of your employees. This includes:
- “Look on the bright side!”
- “Everything is fine!”
- “We will be ok.”
- “It could be worse.”
- “Stop worrying!”
- “Think happy thoughts!”
- “We need to move on.”
Ask Supportive Questions
The hard part for any leader is to strike a balance between being positive vs. addressing negative emotions on your team. Instead of shutting down negative emotions, you should ask supportive questions:
- “How can I help?”
- “What support do you need?”
- “How does that make you feel?”
- “What is your desired outcome?”
- “I’m sorry for what you’re going through.”
- “I hear you.”
Everyone’s Feelings are Valid
The main thing that helps to avoid toxic positivity is to let your employees know that their feelings are valid. Everyone’s feelings are valid, even if you do not agree with their point of view. For example, if you offend someone, you should never tell them that they shouldn’t be offended for any reason. You should apologize immediately even if you did not mean to offend them.
Affect on Mental Health
People tend to focus on positivity because we are taught that people with a positive outlook on things are mentally healthy. However, when people continue to bury their feelings behind a veil of positivity, then they are not dealing with their feelings. I know from experience that this leads to trouble when your feelings catch up with you.
When employees’ feelings are constantly dismissed, they will not be set up for success. People want to feel like they are being heard and this will not happen if you are not listening to them. This may cause them to disengage from their work and have negative feelings about the company. Having constant negative feelings is detrimental to your employees’ mental health as they are struggling alone. They need your support as a leader to move past negative feelings and you must address them.
Addressing Toxic Positivity in the Workplace – Leadership Courses on Pluralsight
You can learn more about Mental Health Awareness in my Pluralsight course, Increasing Mental Health Awareness for Improved Inclusiveness. This course includes animated scenario-based training and you will watch as an organization develops their mental health initiatives and how their initiatives impact their employees. This course provides an overview of the most common mental health disorders including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Panic Disorder. By the end of this course, you will be able to support mental health initiatives by removing the stigma in your workplace for improved inclusiveness. Click the button below to get started with a free trial today!