Home > Becoming an Entrepreneur, Empowering Women, Leading Teams > TIP: Counter the 4 Relationship and Team Toxins with NEW Positive Action!

TIP: Counter the 4 Relationship and Team Toxins with NEW Positive Action!

After my morning mini-stomach crunching class today, the atmosphere got cold and stiff. The new teacher immediately received a stream of complaints from the participants. Quite a commotion from the group! His reaction: Defensiveness…  He took the barrage personally…  Then – closed up; NO listening…

My thoughts and inputs: It’s not an attack.  It’s feedback. What’s behind the complaints is good intention.  But the atmosphere didn’t show this…

In this post, I’d like to propose some antidotes to this type of situation: where a toxic environment doesn’t meet the intention.  In previous posts, we reviewed the 4 toxins: 1) Blame/Criticism; 2) Defensiveness; 3) Contempt; 4) Stonewalling (more details in: How to Manage the 4 Relationship and Team Toxins and How to Separate the Emotions from Behavior to Strengthen Relationship).  The bottom-line: the KEY is AWARENESS first!

Lack of awareness existed in the exercise class this morning…  Intention good.  Atmosphere toxic.  Pitch of voice, intonation, agressive energy, tense communication, argumentativeness…  So no good result: Complaints turned into criticism.  Defensiveness resulted.  No openness to hear what was being said…

So what are some ways that YOU can soften toxic situtations that you find yourself in:  How can YOU take responsibility for yourself? (rather than fall into the victim role)  How can YOU turn-it-around? ACT with POSITIVE intention – rather than just react and continue with the negative flow?….


  • express what YOU feel and what YOU request;
  • focus on your complaint about a specific BEHAVIOR, but not point the finger and question character or personality traits…
  • on the receiving end – don’t take it personally!  acknowledge inputs and feedback.  look for the request BEHIND the complaint!


  • Repeat what you hear (exercise active listening) and question if you’re understanding?
  • Look for the truth and learning
  • Remain open and curious!  Show appreciation for the other…


  • Don’t take it personally!
  • Express what you feel and the specific behavior with a request: I feel….  I want….
  • Show respect (if you want it, give it…)


  • What is unsafe? How can you or others gain security?
  • Is there a fear? Or what’s making you flooded? How can you counter this?
  • Agree to take a break and set a time to talk later… (rather than not communicate at all)

It takes two! If you take care of yourself, the fire can’t continue…  The way to eliminate toxic communication is to practice, practice, practice the antidotes that work for YOU!

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