The Toxic Workplace: When Work Blows

purple liquid poison on brown wooden surface
Photo by Pixabay on

Have you ever worked in a toxic workplace? In some cases, a single toxic person can make going to work every morning feel like descending into the depths of hell.

Did you know that incivility is the gateway to toxic culture? The uncivil behaviors that we all learn to live with–like the co-worker who is perpetually rude–build up and then create a culture that’s so toxic, nobody wants to stay in it. And those who do are burned out and do less work.

We’ve become inured to incivility because we just expect it. For instance, a million years ago, I worked in a shoe store on commission with a person who would tell customers that the rest of us were “new” and “didn’t know much.” She used that as a way to build her credibility so customers would ask for her. That’s incivility.

In another job, I had a senior co-worker who regularly asked me for personal favors (outside of work hours). If I said no to a request–like the time she asked me to take her to the airport at 4 am–she would pout and tell me that I “owed” her tasks at work to make up for this. That’s incivility.

A friend told me about a time she’d sent out an organization-wide email about the death of a colleague. She’d accidentally included a very small typo in the email that didn’t change the meaning of it. A co-worker called her and told her that she was unprofessional and should be ashamed of her shoddy work. That’s incivility.

So what can we do about incivility? We can kill it. We can refuse to stand for it. Here’s an article I wrote about how to do that.

What incivilities have you encountered? Have you been uncivil? (I admit that I’ve been guilty of incivilities.)


6 thoughts on “The Toxic Workplace: When Work Blows

  1. Thank you for your article. I liked that you listed quite a few of real-life scenarios. People will learn better what incivility is by imagining themselves in actual situations like those you presented. I will send your blog to my friends who have suffered in the recent past.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank LaManna

    incivility, i had know idea that word existed until now. 🤣you seem passionate about removing it, have you found better luck in the workplace?


    1. I don’t know that I’ve done anything about removing incivility, but I’m more aware now of how important it is for everyone. I’m fortunate to work with pretty nice people, so it’s not that big of an issue for me. But that’s not always the case!


      1. Frank LaManna

        Yeah, lol, that whole work environment thing can be hellish if your co-workers suck. Well that’s good at least you’re with nice people. I’ve had some pretty bad jobs to say the least, but things are getting better for me as well. 🙉


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