Toxic Positivity is the belief that no matter what we’re going through we should remain positive.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a positive mindset, especially for the sake of our mental wellbeing. However if we always respond in a positive way, we end up rejecting difficult emotions and not dealing with them.
Our employees will sometimes go through difficult times, both personally and professionally, and this can directly impact how they’re behaving at work. As leaders, our intention should be to make them feel safe, but sometimes we do this without acknowledging what’s really going on, and that can result in the individual feeling unheard of having their feelings dismissed.
Your employees are not robots, they are going to have feelings that can’t be disguised and you as the leader will have to show empathy and avoid toxic positivity.
From now on when responding to a negative situation or emotion, try this:
Instead of saying ‘Cheer up‘ – Say ‘I can see this is really tough for you‘
Instead of saying ‘Don’t worry it’ll be fine‘ – Say ‘It’s understandable why you’re upset‘
Instead of saying ‘Don’t cry’ – Say ‘Do you want to talk about what’s upsetting you?‘
Instead of saying ‘Think happy thoughts‘ – Say ‘There’s a lot to process’
Instead of saying ‘Think positive thoughts, tomorrow is another day‘ – Say ‘What can I do to help?‘
If your employee fell over and hurt their knee you wouldn’t ignore or question their physical pain, whether it happened at work or outside of work, so don’t ignore or dismiss the emotional pain!
Written by Sahar Habib