An email recently popped into my inbox from Executive Grapevine. Under the strap line BAD WORKERS the headline read: 5 TERRIBLE types of toxic workers to watch out for this year.

As an executive coach, this left me perplexed. Not only are we (hopefully) non-judgemental, but I am concerned with the amount of labels I notice at work. I read the article and apparently these terrible toxic workers are zombies, tightly wound workers, opportunists, jokers and would-be leaders. The problem with labels is that they become just that.


Others may then overtly or covertly join in the labelling and tensions in relationships risk becoming fractures. Sometimes people accept the invitation to play the role, which makes it worse. In the workplace, I do notice elements of, for example, passive (“zombie-ish”?) behaviour. And there have been Mondays in my career when I haven’t exactly bounced into work as sprightly as a two-month-old lamb cavorting around a field in spring. (It’s helpful to reality check in the mirror.)

So my message for 2020 is to:

1. Hold back on labels.
2. View others with unconditional positive regard.
3. Remind ourselves there are no such things as difficult people, only difficult behaviours.

Good Coaching!

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