By Corinne (Corey) Jameson-Kuehl

Today, more than ever, people are stressed and our dental offices are affected just as much as any other workplace. It seems I am getting calls weekly asking for “how to deal with a toxic team member”…or how to work with someone who simply is negative.

Check yourself first:
During an emotion, are we able to assess how we are feeling in the moment and identify the “pause” to evaluate the response? Perhaps it’s the rude sharp statement from a co-worker or employee. Do we add to the drama by “lashing back” or do we ask for some time to process this and ask to address this concern over the lunch hour, or the following day?

Assess yourself as you present to others:
Are you looking at your boss, employee, a co-worker with grace? Everyone is tired from COVID, politics, and students being home, not home, etc. Regulate the way you look at someone else. Are you empathic to them as you witness their words and actions? Ask questions. What are they struggling with that is making their current situation challenging? Be a present-in-the-moment lister. Find compassionate solutions.

There are always situations where direct communication needs to occur. I certainly do not advocate tolerating abuse or repeated patterns of disrespect. There are certainly times where a patterned behavior needs to be called out and dealt with consequences and an action plan or perhaps the team member needs to be released. The evaluation of how to handle a person’s continued toxicity is to evaluate:

  1. Is this person aware and does not care?
  2. How is this affecting the team’s working environment? For example, does the atmosphere appear “lighter” when they are not there?

Anything that is affecting the culture to the point of physical illness, extreme stressful thoughts, and other employees exciting because they do not want to be with that person is indeed grounds for the direct communication-action plan process.

Let me know if I can help.

“Communication is Everything.” -Lee Iacocca