10 Ways to Deal with Toxic Positivity at Work

Have you ever been in a situation where you were told, “Everything happens for a reason,” “There is a storm that precedes every calm,” or “All is well,” especially when everything seems to be turned upside down? Being overly positive and optimistic all the time, in a way that you dismiss negative emotions, is what toxic positivity is all about. People tend to deny or suppress their true feelings and emotions, which often leads to negative consequences. Let us tell you more about it and how you can deal with toxic positivity at work.

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity is an unrealistic and unhealthy approach to life, which involves suppressing negative emotions and focusing solely on maintaining a positive attitude, explains psychiatrist Dr Rahul Rai Kakkar of Narayana Superspeciality Hospital. It often involves telling yourself “just think positive” or “everything happens for a reason” to dismiss or downplay real emotional struggles and challenges.

Toxic positivity at work is unhealthy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the signs of toxic positivity at work?

When people feel pressured to suppress their true emotions and put on a facade of constant positivity, it can lead to emotional suppression, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. It prevents people from addressing and solving their real problems, and can contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Here are some signs:

• Constant pressure to stay positive
• Discouragement of open and honest discussions about challenges
• Minimizing or dismissing employee concerns
• Shaming or guilting employees for expressing negative emotions
• Promoting an unrealistic culture of constant cheerfulness

How to deal with toxic positivity at work?

If you want a healthy and productive work environment, dealing with toxic positivity at work is essential.

1. Promote emotional intelligence

Encourage employees to recognize and express their emotions in a healthy way. Emotional intelligence helps people understand and manage their feelings effectively, says the expert.

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2. Create a safe space

Create a workplace where employees feel safe to share their concerns and challenges without fear of judgment or dismissal.

3. Encourage open communication

Encourage a culture of open and honest communication, so this includes recognizing problems and working together to find solutions.

4. Offer support and resources

Provide mental health and wellness resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs, to help employees cope with stress and difficulties.

5. Set realistic expectations

Encourage a balance between acknowledging difficulties and maintaining a positive outlook. Realism is the key to a healthy work culture.

Women communicate at work
Attention should also be paid to self-care at work. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Promote self-care

Whether at work or at home, self-care should not be ignored. In the office, you can encourage colleagues to take care of both their mental and emotional well-being. Self-care practices can help relieve stress and promote overall positivity.

7. Address toxic positivity head-on

If you notice instances of toxic positivity, address them respectfully and inform employees of its potential harm.

8. Celebrate small victories

Recognize and celebrate small achievements and progress rather than focusing solely on big successes. This can help alleviate the pressure toward constant positivity, says Dr. Kakkar.

9. Set a good example

As a leader or colleague, show authenticity in dealing with your own emotions. By setting a positive example, you can encourage others to do the same.

10. Focus on solving problems

It is good to face challenges or difficulties with a positive outlook. But by pretending that everything is fine, you downplay negative feelings. It’s an avoidance technique that keeps us from solving the real problem. You need to have a strategy so that you can solve the problem instead of ignoring it.

Yes, toxic positivity can damage your mental health, so addressing it can promote a healthier and ultimately more productive workplace.

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