The victory of both Prop HHH and Measure H provide a promising future for our homeless community and are needed now more than ever. They both provide an opportunity to move our most vulnerable residents off of the street and into permanent housing.
THE CONNECTIONSNavigating the homeless services system can be a complicated task. Our team is working with partners to streamline the process and we try to ensure that everyone that comes in contact with our office is connected to City and/or County resources that will best fulfill their needs.
THE MAYOR’S HOMELESSNESS CABINETThe City has adopted a “No Wrong Door” approach to homelessness in every City department to ensure that every City employee is equipped to connect homeless Angelenos with housing and services. For example, the Department of Transportation created a resource for individual experiencing homelessness to address parking citations that are a barrier to employment and housing.
For additional information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact our team email@example.com
Introduction 1Part I: Getting Started with Infographics 5
Chapter 1: Unlocking the Power of Infographics 7
Chapter 2: Exploring Infographics 19
Chapter 3: Designing Your Approach to Infographics 35
Part II: Starting with Data 57
Chapter 4: Informing Yourself 59
Chapter 5: Gathering Your Data 77
Chapter 6: Discovering the Story 93
Part III: Depicting with Delightful Design 115
Chapter 7: Creating Wireframes and Managing Mood Boards 117
Chapter 8: Designing Around a Theme 135
Chapter 9: Designing Infographics in Adobe Illustrator 153
Chapter 10: Designing Infographics in Photoshop 193
Chapter 11: Expanding Your Tools and Techniques 225
Part IV: Ready to Distribute 241
Chapter 12: Launching Your Infographic 243
Chapter 13: Promoting Your Infographic 255
Part V: The Part of Tens 273
Chapter 14: Ten Infographics Trends to Follow 275
Chapter 15: Ten Future Infographic Uses to Try Today 283
Create stunning infographics with this hands-on guide
Infographics For Dummies is a comprehensive guide to creating data visualization with viral appeal. Written by the founder of Infographic World, a New York City based infographic agency, and his top designers, the book focuses on the how-to of data, design, and distribution to create stunning, shareable infographics. Step-by-step instruction allows you to handle data like a pro, while creating eye-catching graphics with programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The book walks you through the different types of infographics, explaining why they're so effective, and when they're appropriate.
Ninety percent of the information transmitted to your brain is visual, so it's important to tickle the optic nerves to get people excited about your data. Infographics do just that. Much more exciting than a spreadsheet, infographics can add humor, interest, and flash while imparting real information. Putting your data in graphic form makes it more likely to be shared via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media sites, and the visual interest makes it less likely to be ignored. Infographics For Dummies provides a tried-and-true method for creating infographics that tell a story and get people excited. Topics include:
In every workplace, you will have difficult coworkers. Dealing with difficult coworkers, bosses, customers, clients, and friends is an art worth perfecting. Dealing with difficult situations at work is challenging, yet rewarding.
You can vastly improve your own work environment and morale when you increase your ability to deal with the people at work. You also make your workplace a better environment for all employees when you address the problems that a difficult coworker is causing for the team.
You can increase your skill in dealing with the difficult people who surround you in your work world. These tips will help you.
Rise Above the Fray: Dealing With Difficult People at WorkEnis Aksoy/Getty ImagesDifficult people are found in every single workplace. Difficult people come in every variety that you can imagine. But, how difficult a person is for you to deal with depends a lot on such factors as your self-esteem, your self-confidence, how closely you must work with him on a daily basis, and your professional courage.
Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. You can team together to address the behavior or inform management to get help addressing the employee issue before it spirals into negativity.
Dealing with difficult people is much harder if the individual is publicly undermining your professional credibility or attacking you personally like a bully. But you can do it. Here are tips that will help you. More
How to Deal With a Bully at Work
vm/E+/Getty ImagesDo you think that you work with a bully? You do if you regularly feel intimidated, dread to work anywhere near a particular coworker and feel dismayed and upset about having to go to work. If you are yelled at, insulted, and put down, you work with a bully. If you have felt psychologically or physically threatened at work, you work with a bully.
Do you have a coworker who talks over you at meetings, who regularly criticizes your performance, and steals credit for your work? If you answer yes to these questions, chances are that you’re one of 54 million Americans who has been targeted by a bully at work. Learn more about how to deal with a difficult bully at work. More
How to Deal With a Negative Coworker
Negative, Smug Employees Incite Reactions from Coworkers. Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesSome coworkers wallow in their negativity. They don’t like their jobs and they don’t like working for their company. They always have bad bosses who are jerks who always treat them unfairly. The company is always going to fail and its customers are worthless and demanding.
You know these negative coworkers—every organization has a few. You can best deal with these negative coworkers by avoiding their presence at work. Assuming that this is not always possible for you, here are tips for dealing with difficult, negative coworkers.More
Overcome Your Fear of Confrontation and Conflict
Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesConfronting a coworker is never easy but it's often needed if you stick up for your rights at work. Whether the confrontation is about sharing credit for work accomplished, coworker habits and approaches that are irritating or sloppy, intentional missed customer delivery deadlines, or about keeping a project on track, sometimes you need to confront your coworker.
Although confrontation should not be your first step, you can become better and more comfortable with necessary conflict. These tips will help you feel more comfortable when you need to confront a coworker. Find out how dealing with difficult conflicts at work is easier and more positive when you follow these steps. More
Play Well With Others: Develop Effective Work Relationships
Oli Kellett/Taxi/Getty ImagesYou can ruin both your job and your career by the relationships you develop with your coworkers at work. Your education, experience, or title don't matter if you can't play well with your coworkers, You won't succeed in your career without forming positive relationships at work.
Effective relationships, with the boss and coworkers, create success and satisfaction on the job. Learn more about seven effective work relationship musts. Combat dealing with difficult people with these work relationship musts. More
How to Hold a Difficult Conversation
Reza Estakhrian/Iconica/Getty ImagesHave you encountered any of these examples of needing to deal with difficult people at work? They're just examples of the types of behavior that cry out for responsible feedback from a coworker or boss. But, for most people, holding a difficult conversation about a sensitive topic is challenging at work.
These steps will help you hold difficult conversations when people need professional feedback provided professionally. Holding a difficult conversation can have positive outcomes. Here's how to attain them. More
How to Tackle Annoying Employee Habits and Issues
Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images Have you worked with a coworker who had annoying habits such as loud gum chewing or bringing personal issues to the office every day? How about a coworker who had personal hygiene problems or exuded the smell of alcohol and coffee at work. You know what a productivity downer these kinds of behavioral and personal issues can present in the workplace.
If you want to attain some happiness at work, you must address these issues. Do you need some help and ideas about how to hold a difficult conversation? Here's how you can courageously address coworkers who have annoying habits and harmony-destructive issues in your workplace. More
Dealing With Difficult Bosses
Your Boss May Not Know How Bad He Really Is. ONOKY - Eric Herchaft/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesNothing is more destructive in the workplace than difficult bosses. Every employee has bosses who provide direction throughout their working careers. Hopefully, most of your bosses are competent, kind, and worthy of your trust and respect. They play such a significant role with the employees who report to them. Bosses can make or break an employee's day.
Unfortunately, too often, employees have difficult bosses who have a negative impact on their desire to engage and contribute in the workplace. Learn how dealing with difficult bosses is a skill you can develop. More
Team Building With Coworkers
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/OJO+/Getty ImagesYou want to be well known and liked among the people the company regards as superstars, allies who have power and will speak up for you. (In fact, you can achieve job security if you are viewed as a superstar by your organization.)
Building alliances at work is smart, effective behavior when you want to develop positive coworker relationships. The alliances are crucial, also, for dealing with difficult or destructive coworker behavior in the workplace. More
How to Manage Gossip
Dr. Heinz Linke/E+/Getty ImagesGossip is rampant in most workplaces. It often seems that people have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They gossip about their co-workers, their managers, and their company's prospects for success. They frequently take a partially true fact and blow it all out of proportion to its importance or intended meaning.
Dealing with difficult situations involving gossip occurs in every workplace. Find out how dealing with difficult gossip is a must-do and a can-do. You can obliterate destructive gossip from your workplace. More
Most of us encounter unreasonable people in our lives. We may be “stuck” with a difficult individual at work or at home. It’s easy to let a challenging person affect us and ruin our day. What are some of the keys to empowering yourself in such situations? Below are ten keys to handling unreasonable and difficult people, with references to my book (click on title): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People”. Keep in mind that these are general rules of thumb, and not all of the tips may apply to your particular situation. Simply utilize what works and leave the rest.
1. Keep Your Cool
Benefits: Maintain self-control. Avoid escalation of problem.
How: The first rule in the face of an unreasonable person is to maintain your composure; the less reactive you are, the more you can use your better judgment to handle the situation.
When you feel angry or upset with someone, before you say something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. In most circumstances, by the time you reach ten, you would have figured out a better way of communicating the issue, so that you can reduce, instead of escalate the problem. If you're still upset after counting to ten, take a time out if possible, and revisit the issue after you calm down.
2. "Fly Like an Eagle"
Benefits: More peace of mind. Reduce risk of friction.
How: Some people in our lives are simply not worth tussling with. Your time is valuable, so unless there’s something important at stake, don’t waste it by trying to change or convince a person who’s negatively entrenched. As the saying goes: “You can’t fly like an eagle if you hang out with turkeys!” Whether you’re dealing with a difficult colleague or an annoying relative, be diplomatic and apply the tips from this article when you need to interact with them. The rest of the time, keep a healthy distance.
3. Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive
Benefits: Minimize misinterpretation & misunderstanding. Concentrate energy on problem-solving.
How: When you feel offended by someone’s words or deeds, come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before reacting. For example, I may be tempted to think that my co-worker is ignoring my messages, or I can consider the possibility that she’s been very busy. When we avoid personalizing other people's behaviors, we can perceive their expressions more objectively. People do what they do because of them more than because of us. Widening our perspective on the situation can reduce the possibility of misunderstanding.
Another way to reduce personalization is to try to put ourselves in the difficult individual’s shoes, even for just a moment. For example, consider the person you’re dealing with, and complete the sentence: “It must not be easy….”
“My child is being so resistant. It must not be easy to deal with his school and social pressures…”
“My boss is really demanding. It must not be easy to have such high expectations placed on her performance by management…”
“My partner is so emotionally distant. It must not be easy to come from a family where people don’t express affection…”
To be sure, empathetic statements do not excuse unacceptable behavior. The point is to remind yourself that people do what they do because of their own issues. As long as we’re being reasonable and considerate, difficult behaviors from others say a lot more about them than they do about us. By de-personalizing, we can view the situation more objectively, and come up with better ways of solving the problem.
4. Pick Your Battles
Benefits: Save time, energy and grief. Avoid unnecessary problems and complications.
How: Not all difficult individuals we face require direct confrontation about their behavior. There are two scenarios under which you might decide not to get involved. The first is when someone has temporary, situational power over you. For example, if you’re on the phone with an unfriendly customer service representative, as soon as you hang up and call another agent, this representative will no longer have power over you.
Another situation where you might want to think twice about confrontation is when, by putting up with the difficult behavior, you derive a certain benefit. An example of this would be an annoying co-worker, for although you dislike her, she’s really good at providing analysis for your team, so she’s worth the patience. It’s helpful to remember that most difficult people have positive qualities as well, especially if you know how to elicit them (see keys #5 and 6).
In both scenarios, you have the power to decide if a situation is serious enough to confront. Think twice, and fight the battles that are truly worth fighting.
5. Separate the Person From the Issue
Benefits: Establish yourself as a strong problem solver with excellent people skills. Win more rapport, cooperation and respect.
How: In every communication situation, there are two elements present: The relationship you have with this person, and the issue you are discussing. An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue, and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. For example:
“I want to talk about what’s on your mind, but I can’t do it when you’re yelling. Let’s either sit down and talk more quietly, or take a time out and come back this afternoon.”
“I appreciate you putting a lot of time into this project. At the same time, I see that three of the ten requirements are still incomplete. Let’s talk about how to finish the job on schedule.”
“I really want you to come with us. Unfortunately, if you’re going to be late like the last few times, we’ll have to leave without you.”
When we’re soft on the person, people are more open to what we have to say. When we’re firm on the issue, we show ourselves as strong problem solvers.
6. Put the Spotlight on Them
Benefits: Proactive. Equalize power in communication. Apply appropriate pressure to reduce difficult behavior.
How: A common pattern with difficult people (especially the aggressive types) is that they like to place attention on you to make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate. Typically, they’re quick to point out there’s something not right with you or the way you do things. The focus is consistently on “what’s wrong,” instead of “how to solve the problem.”
This type of communication is often intended to dominate and control, rather than to sincerely take care of issues. If you react by being on the defensive, you simply fall into the trap of being scrutinized, thereby giving the aggressor more power while she or he picks on you with impunity. A simple and powerful way to change this dynamic is to put the spotlight back on the difficult person, and the easiest way to do so is to ask questions. For example:
Aggressor: “Your proposal is not even close to what I need from you.”
Response: “Have you given clear thought to the implications of what you want to do?”
Aggressor: “You’re so stupid.”
Response: “If you treat me with disrespect I’m not going to talk with you anymore. Is that what you want? Let me know and I will decide if I want to stay or go.”
Keep your questions constructive and probing. By putting the difficult person in the spotlight, you can help neutralize her or his undue influence over you.
7. Use Appropriate Humor
Benefits: Disarm unreasonable and difficult behavior when correctly used. Show your detachment. Avoid being reactive. Problem rolls off your back.
How: Humor is a powerful communication tool. Years ago I knew a co-worker who was quite stuck up. One day a colleague of mine said “Hello, how are you?” to him. When the egotistical co-worker ignored her greeting completely, my colleague didn’t feel offended. Instead, she smiled good-naturedly and quipped: “That good, huh?” This broke the ice and the two of them started a friendly conversation. Brilliant.
When appropriately used, humor can shine light on the truth, disarm difficult behavior, and show that you have superior composure. In my book (click on title): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People,” I explain the psychology of humor in conflict resolution, and offer a variety of ways one can use humor to reduce or eliminate difficult behavior.
8. Change from Following to Leading
Benefit: Leverage direction and flow of communication.
How: In general, whenever two people are communicating, one is usually doing more leading, while the other is doing more following. In healthy communication, two people would take turns leading and following. However, some difficult people like to take the lead, set a negative tone, and harp on “what’s wrong” over and over.
You can interrupt this behavior simply by changing the topic. As mentioned earlier, utilize questions to redirect the conversation. You can also say “By the way…” and initiate a new subject. When you do so, you’re taking the lead and setting a more constructive tone.
9. Confront Bullies (Safely)
Benefits: Reduce or eliminate harmful behavior. Increase confidence and peace of mind.
How: The most important thing to keep in mind about bullies is that they pick on those whom they perceive as weaker, so as long as you remain passive and compliant, you make yourself a target. Many bullies are also cowards on the inside. When their victims begin to show backbone and stand up for their rights, the bully will often back down. This is true in schoolyards, as well as in domestic and office environments.
On an empathetic note, studies show that many bullies are victims of violence themselves. This in no way excuses bullying behavior, but may help you consider the bully in a more equanimous light.
“When people don't like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first.” — Tom Hiddleston
“Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.” — Paramhansa Yogananda
“I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It's the bully who's insecure.” — Shay Mitchell
When confronting bullies, be sure to place yourself in a position where you can safely protect yourself, whether it’s standing tall on your own, having other people present to witness and support, or keeping a paper trail of the bully’s inappropriate behavior. In cases of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, consult with counseling, legal, law enforcement, or administrative professionals on the matter. It’s very important to stand up to bullies, and you don’t have to do it alone.
10. Set Consequence
Benefits: Proactive not reactive. Shift balance of power. Win respect and cooperation when appropriately applied.
How: The ability to identify and assert consequence(s) is one of the most important skills we can use to "stand down" a difficult person. Effectively articulated, consequence gives pause to the challenging individual, and compels her or him to shift from obstruction to cooperation. In “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People,” consequence is presented as seven different types of power you can utilize to affect positive change.
In conclusion, to know how to handle unreasonable and difficult people is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess. You are on your way to leadership success!
For more in-depth tools on how to effectively handle difficult individuals, see my books (click on titles): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People” and “How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People”.
Source: http://www.nipreston.com/new/publications/Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!
Preston Ni, M.S.B.
20 Expert Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People
We’ve all been there—trying valiantly to reason with an incredibly difficult person. The situation proves frustrating, maddening, and sometimes even frightening. The truth is, you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. However, there are proven techniques to better manage such dicey situations.
I learned the ropes of what’s technically called “verbal de-escalation” from many years working in hospitals. Every year, we’d go through training on how to defuse difficult situations in which a patient, family member, or even another employee was extremely angry and seemingly out of control.
What follows are the tactics that professional crisis intervention teams use, and you can learn them, too. You can use these techniques with your boss, a customer, a family member, even a stranger. Keep in mind: The closer your relationship the person, the more knowledge you’ll have of what will best work to calm things down.
These tips may feel unnatural at first. When you're dealing with a person behaving unreasonably, the fear response center in your brain (the fight-flight-freeze part) is going to be activated. This part of the brain can't distinguish between a customer that's yelling at you or a vicious dog about to attack you. It's up to you to engage your conscious mind in order to defuse the situation. Some of these tips are general, suggesting a mindset to cultivate. Others are more specific in advising you what to do in the moment.
Don’t get defensive. Stay calm, and be aware that you will never win in an argument with an impossible person—he is referred to as "impossible" for a reason. In the impossible person's mind, you are the problem, and nothing you say can convince the person to see your side of the story. He feels that your opinion doesn’t matter because you are guilty, regardless.
Detach, disassociate and defuse. Staying calm in the heat of the moment is paramount to your personal preservation. Spitting angry words, reacting with extreme emotions such as crying, will only stimulate impossible people to do more of the difficult behavior. Don’t take the reactions of impossible people personally, and don’t allow yourself to become emotionally charged in reaction to him or her.
Avoid arguing with them. If possible, don't disagree with impossible people. Find ways to be agreeable or ignore them. Arguing will only get you emotionally invested in the situation and trigger your fight or flight responses. This will make it harder for you to think clearly and respond appropriately.
Ignore them. Impossible people want attention, so once they realize you won’t give them what they want, they will move onto someone else who will react to them. Stay out of their business, out of their way and avoid talking to or about them.
Take a breather. If the person you're talking with is getting on your last nerve, then you need to step away from the immediate situation. He might just want to get a rise out of you, so show him that he has no effect on you. Walking away or handling another task so you can calm down is a good idea.
Be confident. State your views with confidence and look the person in the eye when communicating with her. You do not want to appear weak to one of these people. If you look at the ground or over her shoulder, she could interpret this as weak. You want to be reasonable but not timid.
Adjust your strategy. Sometimes you can’t leave the situation, so treat it like a game. Learn the impossible person’s strategy, and develop counter strategies ahead of time. Eventually you'll find what works and what doesn't, plus you'll probably feel better as you realize you're three steps ahead, outwitting him at every turn. Just remember your ultimate goal is to help free yourself mentally, not become the person's master.
Consider that it might be a question of compatibility. Even if a person seems to get along with everybody else, he could be an impossible person for you. Some people simply clash or don’t get along together well. There may be nothing wrong with either of you but together you just bring out the worst in each other.
Be prepared for emotional mood swings. If you successfully convince an impossible person that he made a mistake, then he may suddenly have an emotional meltdown. Instead of believing he is right all the time, he will decide that if he can't be right now, then he will always be wrong. This is a coping mechanism to elicit sympathy from others.
Preserve your self-esteem. Maintaining a positive self-image in the face of someone who portrays you as a bad person takes effort. Instead of listening to what the impossible person says, focus on the people who validate you and make you feel good. Realize that the impossible person wants to hurt you to make herself feel better.
Consider what you can learn. Impossible people offer valuable life experiences. After dealing with impossible people, you will be able to get along with most other people easier. Try to keep perspective, and realize that what may seem crazy to you may be another person's only way of coping. Try to view these interactions as a way to build strengths such as flexibility, grace, and tolerance.
\Dealing With Personality Types::
Deal with self-important people, complainers or victims. Understand that self-important people just need to feel like people are listening to them. People who complain a lot usually have a lot of internalized anger from unresolved issues, and often also need people to listen. Those who play the victim always have bad things happen to them so that they have an excuse for why they haven't achieved something.
Deal with histrionic and passive-aggressive types. Histrionic personality types live for attention, and will frequently go to great lengths in order to get it. They have to live in the right neighborhood, wear the right clothes and send their kids to the right schools. Passive-aggressive people are often hostile because they don't know how to express their wants and needs effectively.
They spew negativity to demean and deflate you. And they think you're the problem. It's happening more and more. Herewith, a guide for surviving toxic times.
Christine Porath was an accomplished athlete just out of a Division I college when she landed her dream job—helping a global athletic brand launch a sports academy. But the dream quickly faded. Her boss was, by her description, a self-absorbed dictator whose rudeness was matched by his bullying and other noxious actions. Soon enough, the dysfunction trickled down through the staff.
"Many took out their frustrations on others, barking orders at colleagues, making snide remarks to customers, and failing to pitch in the way good teammates do," she recalls. Some took to intentionally sabotaging the company, stealing supplies and equipment, padding time reports with hours they hadn't worked, and charging personal items to their expense accounts.
Within months, Porath felt depleted by the nastiness of the environment. "We quickly became husks of ourformer selves," she says. She eventually left to work for a competitor, but the experience left an indelible mark. After getting a Ph.D. in business administration and another in organizational management, she has devoted the last two decades to studying bad behavior in the workplace. As an associate professor at Georgetown University's business school, she continues to catalogue the acts that can poison the atmosphere in or out of an office, the high costs of toxic behavior to people and organizations, and what it takes to create cultures where everyone can thrive.
Toxic behavior is common in the workplace, says Porath. In part, it grows from selfishness and callousness that can derive in extreme form from certain character disorders that don't magically recede after hours and are particularly destructive in close interpersonal relationships.
Whether through overt cruelty, passive aggression, or just for the hell of it, toxic people prioritize their self-interest above everyone else's. They refuse—or are unable—to consider another person's perspective or emotional state. Not caring to acknowledge how their behavior affects others, they disregard personal boundaries, avoid admitting it when they've done wrong, and are unwilling to change.
In researching the impact of toxic individuals in the workplace, Veldsman focuses on toxic leaders. He finds that in many ways they are excellent psychologists. They have sharp eyes not only for their own interests but also for others' insecurities. They know just how to steal the oxygen to undermine colleagues. It's part of the package of survival skills they've honed during their ascent.
Veldsman believes that the number of toxic leaders is growing, courtesy of unfettered individualism; they get a further boost when organizations define competence as technical skills and exclude human values.
Much toxic behavior is situational. Yes, say the experts, there are those who have personality traits--paranoia, aggression, narcissism, psychopathy, everyday sadism—that incline them to assault others with various forms of negativity. They create havoc wherever they are and with whomever they engage.
And there are some people at the opposite extreme, who know only kindness and compassion. But the vast majority of people are in the middle, subject to influence by their surroundings. For them, toxic behavior is not automatic; it is something they engage in if the situation encourages it.
Photo by Nathaniel WelchAt WorkIn 2017, work has a way of bringing out the toxicity in people, says Porath. Over the past two decades, the nature of work has undergone a transformation. Where once people functioned individually, today standing teams and project-based collaborations are the norm. As a result, toxic colleagues have more opportunity to create havoc. And the damage is often measurable—on morale, say, or productivity—which is why research on toxic behavior tends to focus on the work domain. But toxic behavior is much the same wherever it occurs; what happens in the work realm, and why, is applicable to other areas of life.
Porath finds that toxic behavior arises primarily from the high load of stress many people carry. Of the thousands of people she has polled in a variety of companies, "more than 60 percent claim the reason they are uncivil is that they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed," she reports. She attributes much stress to the generalized rise in global competition forcing companies to operate tightly, a decline in free time, and what she considers an over-reliance on technology, which enables work to bleed into downtime.
Technology feeds toxic behavior, too, by creating ample opportunities for misunderstanding and meanness in written communication, she notes: "Put-downs are easier when not delivered face to face."
Further, catching up on email correspondence during a one-on-one conversation or a group meeting, or any form of multitasking, can leave employees (to say nothing of spouses and children) feeling unheard, undervalued, and wanting to strike back. The much-heralded diversity of the workforce has many advantages, but one disadvantage is that bridging differences—racial, cultural, generational—takes effort, making the entire work atmosphere challenging to negotiate.
Yet toxic people often thrive in organizations if they have great expertise in a specific area, says Dylan Minor, an assistant professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. In fact, those with significant skills tend to be overconfident and feel immune to punishment for bad behavior; in his studies, overconfidence, along with valuing oneself above others, predicts toxicity.
The thing about toxic behavior in the workplace is that the effects aren't confined to the target; everyone suffers. Minor distinguishes between difficult employees and toxic ones. Both cause harm—but the behavior of the toxic person spreads to others. It diffuses rapidly through emotional contagion. "People can catch it without even realizing it," says Porath. That seems to be a basic characteristic of uncivil behavior.
Whether it's initiated by categorically toxic individuals or those whose unpleasant acts are more situationally driven, toxic behavior can quickly become a fixed way of operating, says Veldsman. In environments where people observe or regularly serve as the targets of hostility, rudeness, bullying, or other forms of noxiousness, they learn to survive by engaging in the same behavior. They either infer that that is how to get ahead, or they get the message that such a way of relating to others is the company (or family) norm.
In a poll Porath conducted, reported in the Harvard Business Review, 80 percent of nearly 800 workers said they lost work time worrying about an instance of workplace hostility, while 63 percent lost time trying to avoid the offender. "The emotional impact on others in an organization was so outsized that productivity—not to mention employee satisfaction and well-being—was consistently disrupted."
Toxic behavior takes a cognitive toll, too: "People don't remember as well," reports Porath. "They're not as attentive to information. It decreases creativity and innovation." As a result, job satisfaction declines, morale evaporates, and engagement in work diminishes.
Spillover begets turnover. Because their behavior is so awful to be around, toxic workers often induce other employees—sometimes a firm's best ones—to leave. No matter how talented toxic employees may be, they wind up bruising the bottom line—the costs of recruiting and training new folks.
Best never to hire a toxic employee: According to a Harvard Business School working paper that Minor recently wrote, for one toxic employee on a team, a company pays $12,500 in turnover costs—more than a company gains in profit from hiring a supertalent.
Photo by Nathaniel WelchLove in a Time of ToxicityAt work, the goal is often to get away from toxic people. But in our private lives, we're more apt to invite them in. That's most likely to happen in the search for love.
Toxic people often have appealing traits, like confidence. The most manipulative among them never reveal their true nature right away; they are likely, instead, to embark on a charm offensive, conducting a campaign of attention and flattery along with public displays of affection—say, a gaudy bouquet of flowers sent to you at the office, meant to impress your colleagues as much as you—to win the admiration and trust of a prospective partner. They move quickly.
By the time they start exhibiting questionable behavior, like making unreasonable demands, says neuropsychologist Rhonda Freeman, we've grown emotionally attached to them. Once they've snuck into our psyches under the radar, we see them through a distorting lens. We react to their transgressions—lashing out at us in myriad ways, blaming us for their problems, ignoring our needs and requests—by trying to accommodate or justify their bad behavior: "He's under a lot of stress," or "She's really a good person."
We may even take the blame on ourselves: "I'm being too needy," or "She's right; I'm lucky to be in a relationship with her. Who else would put up with me?" Freeman says such a dynamic may particularly entrap those who experienced emotional or physical abuse by a family member while growing up.
The closer we get to a toxic individual—the more they know about us, the more emotionally attached we grow to them, the more we let them into our lives—the more damage they can do to us. They simply have more information with which to manipulate or violate. Too, says Freeman, once we've bonded to a person, we go to great lengths to avoid the painful feelings of loss associated with detaching.
Intimate partners must always negotiate the fine line between nurturing and controlling. Some of the most damaging behavior in relationships occurs when a partner deliberately, habitually misuses trust to step over the line into controlling the other. Manipulation is always an abuse of power, but the collision of one partner's sinister intent with the other's assumption of positive regard can be particularly destabilizing.
One of the most notorious forms of romantic manipulation is love bombing, a dark variant of killing with kindness. First named in the 1970s and deployed to win converts by the Unification Church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, it was defined by the late psychologist Margaret Singer, widely known for her work exposing the tactics of predatory cults. "Love bombing—or the offer of instant companionship—is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives," Singer wrote in her 1996 book, Cults in Our Midst. It entails "flooding recruits with flattery, verbal seduction," affectionate touching, and "lots of attention to their every remark."
Love bombing is an intense, attention-filled courtship that suddenly gives way to extreme demands. Bombers—some because of their own insecurities, others due to their exploitative nature—seek to keep their partner to themselves, isolated from friends and family and totally dependent, making themselves the only focus of attention. When the target eventually objects, or the controlling partner tires of the game, devaluation begins. For the bomber, the target is always to blame.
It may take many cycles of pursuit and devaluation for the target to catch on and move toward ending the relationship. Some people may be especially drawn to love bombers. Those who lack confidence, are uncertain who they are or where they're going in life, or aren't sure they're justified in speaking up may be especially vulnerable to masquerades of love. And just as bullies specialize in singling out those who never stand up for themselves, bombers can be especially adept at sniffing out self-doubters.
The most insidious form of manipulation may be gaslighting. It's by no means exclusive to romantic relationships, but the intimate knowledge lovers share makes it potentially the most subversive of toxic behaviors. In destabilizing targets, it undermines their very grip on reality.
Gaslighting, says psychologist Robin Stern, associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of The Gaslight Effect, "is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another's reality—by telling them that what they are experiencing isn't so—and the gradual giving up on the part of the other person." Gaslighting always involves one person who needs to be in control to maintain a sense of self and another "who needs the relationship to maintain a sense of self and is willing to acquiesce."
The term gaslighting derives from a 1938 play, Gaslight, by Patrick Hamilton, later adapted as a film starring
Ingrid Bergman. In it a husband convinces his wife that the footsteps she hears at night (his) and the dimming of the gas lights in the house (his doing while secretly searching for hidden treasure in the attic) are in her imagination.
Those whose partners twist reality for their own goals—insisting "You're too sensitive" or "You don't have access to the kind of information I have"—come to doubt their own beliefs and perceptions and to see themselves as a bad spouse for even daring to question the partner's wisdom.
Like toxic bosses, gaslighters typically display great confidence in themselves, says Stern. That gives them all the more power in disputing a spouse's judgment. By its very nature, gaslighting invalidates gut instincts that might signal something is awry. To compound the damage, gaslighters—or the effects of their behavior—tend to isolate a partner from people who could help detect the cruelty or fact-check all the warped claims.
Why They Do ItIt is unclear whether toxic people are truly aware of what they are doing. They may exhibit flashes of insight into the fact that their behavior is maladaptive, says Freeman. Most often, however, they see other people as the problem.
Some may have frank personality disorders not recognizable as such to most lay people. At a minimum, they have one or more personality traits—intimations of paranoia, narcissism, psychopathy among them—that in more florid form meet the criteria for diagnosis of pathology.
Freeman, who created a web-based educational hub, Neuroinstincts, to help people heal from toxic relationships, contends that perpetrators of toxic behavior lack the skill of emotion regulation. They are unable to titrate the intensity of their expressiveness to fit a wide range of situations.
Under normal circumstances, emotion regulation keeps people from blowing up when a coworker says something they disagree with, and it allows them to take in criticism from a partner without lashing out or breaking down. It's acquired during early development by exposure to strategies for regulating arousal, especially negative states of arousal. As Freeman puts it, "emotion regulation allows us to accept accountability for our behavior, feel compassion, and be mature."
Deficits in empathy also play a role. Blunted sensitivity to others' pain especially enables the more overtly hurtful behaviors like bullying and the aggressively manipulative ones like gaslighting.
Studies show that those who meet the criteria for borderline personality disorder—their emotional instability frequently manifests in rage-filled outbursts as well as self-harm—exhibit defects in the neural circuitry that enables empathy. The same defects make it difficult for them to consider the consequences of their actions.
As with most behaviors, neural circuitry accounts for only part of the problem. Nurture almost always has a hand in there somewhere. Much research suggests that parentingstrategies contribute to the hair-trigger reactivity that makes some people lash out. How parents help infants and toddlers manage strong negative feelings directly influences lifetime skills of emotion regulation.
It remains to be seen whether the already significant uptick in toxic behavior continues into the future. For now, there's more than enough to go around.
Photo by Nathaniel WelchYour Psychological HazMat SuitThe surest way to shield yourself from toxic behavior is to severely limit or cut off entirely contact with people who regularly spew it. But that is hardly ever possible or practical. Better to arm yourself with a few basic skills. They all fall squarely in the zone of self-management.
Control your exposure. The single most important thing you can do is minimize contact. If you work near a toxic person, ask for a rearrangement of desks. Never sit next to a toxic person: It’s catching, says Dylan Minor of the Kellogg School of Management.
If you work on a team with a toxic person, ask for reassignment to another project. If that’s not possible, ask your boss to consider having the toxic teammate work more often from home, or to at least require fewer group meetings.
If your boss is the toxic person, limit the time you spend with him or her and identify others in your organization who can offer an ear. If nothing at all can be done, start looking for another job. If that’s not an option, request to be paired with a different supervisor.
If you have hiring power, learn how to question candidates for signs of emotional competence and lay out norms for behavior at the beginning, says Georgetown’s Christine Porath.
If the toxic person is your spouse, or an ex-spouse with whom you share children, you likely need the help of a mental health professional for navigating the relationship, says psychologist Rhonda Freeman.
Manage your reactivity. Here’s where you have the most leverage. Most essentially, says Yale’s Robin Stern, set firm boundaries. Assertively say no to demands that feel unreasonable—without justifying yourself. Have on hand a few good mantras for the moment a toxic individual blames or bullies you: “I’m not going to continue this conversation if you’re calling me names,” or "I’m happy to discuss this with you when you’re calm."
Maintain clarity about toxic encounters by taking notes about how you felt before, during, and after any such interaction, as well as what was said and done by all, Stern advises. Doing so can help you make a case for managerial intervention.
Strengthen ties with friends and others you trust. Especially if the toxic person is a spouse, relationships with people who treat you with respect can buffer you from stress and help balance your perspective. Having your point of view validated can also boost your self-esteem and counteract isolation.
Find activities that take you away from the toxic person or environment. Join a book club, take a cooking class. You'll also gain a better a sense of who you are in relation to the world.
Don’t explain.Avoid even trying to explain yourself; by definition a toxic person is one who refuses to hear your perspective. Attempts will only frustrate you. Say “I’m sorry but I’m busy then,” or “I can’t do that right now.”
Offer no explanation, no matter how much ranting and raving the other does.
Immunize yourself.Spot those with toxic potential and avoid them before there are any outbursts. Recognize the personality traits that feed toxicity. The drama queens. Those who are suspicious or notably aggressive. And those who consistently display little regard for the feelings of others.
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