Is there someone in your life you’ve been walking on eggshells around?

One day they are in a great mood, the next unresponsive or worse still, aggressive.

Maybe a co-worker’s moods are more volatile than a summer storm… Maybe your boss sings your praises one day and criticizes you the next…

How can you deal with people like that at work?

You can’t walk away – well, you can, but unless you hide out in a cave somewhere, toxic people are just a part of life.

Ideally, team members are in it for the team, whereby there’s a spirit of cooperation and support. It should not be for individual glory. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Is your work environment toxic? Is it becoming harder and harder to smile when you first wake because of thoughts and worries of the coming new day?

Whether you’ve been walking on eggshells with your boss, co-worker, or any other emotionally distraught, negative and toxic person in your work environment, we’ve put together some helpful hints and tips on diffusing tensions that will help everyone reach a win-win solution

help everyone reach a win-win solution

1. Focus on excellence. You might be treated like a rock star one day and garbage the next, but that’s a reflection on the other person, not on you. As long as you focus on doing your best, you can feel satisfied about your contribution anytime you choose. It can help to keep track of your wins, to help you boost your own self-esteem during times when others seem to be throwing you under the bus.

2. Practice compassion. Try to look beyond the behavior of others (not always easy but offers results when practiced enough) to its root cause. People don’t always handle situations in the most graceful or wise ways. But, you don’t really know what’s going on inside to cause them to make choices that can hurt others. Try to see their behavior as an expression of deep pain, be compassionate to that pain, and forgive the behaviors (without condoning them).

3. Avoid confrontation by expressing your appreciation of another’s point of view and resist the temptation to qualify that with “but”, as in, “I appreciate that you think our team didn’t do enough to land the client, but we really did do our best.” Their point of view is valid to them. Try this instead: “I appreciate your input on this – what do you suggest moving forward?”

Are you walking on eggshells?4. Never use “you” when you’re dealing with an emotionally volatile person. It’s better not to put them on the spot or the situation can escalate. Avoid “You made me feel…” and stick to “I feel…” Avoid “You didn’t do…” and replace it with “Moving forward, let’s focus on…”

5. Put your ego aside whenever you feel slighted. Truly, it’s not about you, it’s about a person dealing with something and they don’t know any different way. A friend once had a boss who was on the surface very generous, but the workplace was toxic due to the verbal abuse that the boss would heap on everyone. She had a high rate of employee turnover in the office, and it was rare for someone to last more than a year at their job. My friend also quit within a year – so it clearly wasn’t about my friend’s lack of performance, but an issue that her boss had, and the toxic environment she created.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
Eckhart Tolle

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6. Avoid negative people as much as possible, and if you get caught in a non-work-related conversation that went from happy to miserable, change the subject or excuse yourself. You’re there to work, not to socialize and that’s a perfectly valid excuse to leave a conversation. If a work-related conversation isn’t positive, introduce possible action steps as a way to get people unstuck from the problem.

7. Don’t stoop to someone’s negative level. If someone is being unkind, remain kind. If someone is being hurtful, rise above it and dont let them drag you down by focusing on your breath for 10 counts (the old “count to 10 before you say anything” really is powerful when practiced!).

8. Be the example. Sometimes people are simply unaware that they are being negative or even toxic! Pointing it out isn’t helpful – it just puts them on the defensive – but setting an example, and training others how to treat you, is effective.

If your walking on eggshells smile more!9. Smile more. Smiles are contagious, just like negativity and you might just be able to influence others with your radiant smile!

10. Compliment others, in a genuine way (so as not to appear like you’re trying to win favors). Chances are you’re not the only one who is walking on eggshells and feeling unappreciated. A kind compliment can go a long way and could even make someone’s day!

11. In meditation, practice loving-kindness: “May (person’s name) be happy, healthy, peaceful and content.”

It’s important to do this unconditionally with no expectation that they will be any nicer to you (easier said than done but when done, POWERFUL!).

12. Stay in your power. Don’t give other people the power to make you feel upset. Remind yourself that their behaviors are reflections of who they are… it’s not about you… and let things go, while at the same time standing up for yourself.

13. Practice gratitude. Every job, no matter how much you may hate it, is beneficial to you. I recommend doing a daily gratitude session that is strictly work-related, to help you feel better and get the most benefit from the situation. You can start by expressing gratitude for your paycheck… for learning new skills… for the opportunity to make a difference… and then face the negativity head-on: express gratitude for learning how not to treat employees… for learning to keep your cool when speaking with a hot-headed person… for the discipline you developed and the focus on excellence… be grateful for your wins, and also for your challenges – and keep in mind, the most difficult people have the most to teach you!

14. Do not tolerate abuse. Call them on it, and quit if necessary. You have a right to a peaceful, respectful work situation. Don’t ever feel trapped in a job – you are resourceful and clever and you’ll find something better if the current work environment doesn’t improve. Many people stay stuck in jobs they hate, walking on eggshells with work colleagues because they are afraid that they’ll never find anything as good. Don’t believe that! Today, you have many more options than people did years ago and there is no reason to tolerate any kind of hostile work environment.

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