Taking things positively and keeping a positive outlook for life is great and is good for mental well-being. A positive attitude helps you remain hopeful and enthusiastic even in a difficult situation, makes you stronger, and enables you to grow and succeed. But what if this positivity is forced on you? When things are forced, they only feel like a burden, and this is what toxic positivity does at work. It forces people to hide the truth and wear happy faces all the time. Especially in workplaces, when you are feeling low and told to “be positive,” “cheer up,” and “get over it,” all of these will force you to suppress your emotions and focus on your job.
Everybody has bad days. We are formed up of emotions and are designed to feel joy, anguish, jealousy, fear, surprise, and everything else. Toxic positivity takes us to an unrealistic world where only positivity is welcomed, and all other thoughts are forced to repress.
Let’s dive into the roots of toxic positivity at work to understand what it is and how we all can avoid it.
Let’s get started.
# What is toxic positivity at work?
Toxic positivity is an attitude or mindset that pushes people always to be positive. Whatever the situation, it causes people to suppress their realistic and negative emotions and to put on smiling faces in order to maintain a happy, optimistic mindset.
Basically, it forces you to be and feel happy always and all the time, even when you are not.
Some examples of toxic positivity phrases you might have come across.
“Look On The Brighter Side”
“Think Happy Thoughts”
“No Complaint Zone”
“Failure Is Not An Option”
“Never Give Up Ever”
“Look At The Silver Lining”
Many companies promote toxic positivity at workplaces with their stressful work environment and with similar phrases on every wall to motivate employees and enable them to work efficiently. In addition to the work culture, toxic positivity can also come from and within employees.
Even though the idea of toxic positivity is to encourage employees in their hardships and keep them motivated all the time, it can be hurtful and have a serious impact on a person’s mental health.
While motivating, organizations or people often think they are helping individuals, but in fact, they are putting them in trouble unknowingly. They miss out on the fact that there’s a huge difference between optimism and forced motivation. Encouraging employees to get out of their trouble is one thing and forcing them to do so is quite another. It can prevent employees from sharing their feelings and thoughts and hampering their comfort, performance, productivity, and mental fitness.
# The difference between toxic positivity and optimism.
Many people believe that toxic positivity is actually optimism, and most people don’t even know that it exists. However, toxic positivity and optimism are different; both co-exist, and both have different impacts on individuals’ lives.
A positive mindset is essential because it allows people to be strong and approach challenging situations with optimism. Toxic positivity, on the other hand, is pervasive at workstations and pushes people to fully disregard their true sentiments and emotions, and encourages them to always be happy and seem positive, regardless of how miserable the situation is.
Optimism helps you to be motivated and optimistic in realistic ways considering all the positive as well as negative emotions, whereas toxic positivity only focuses on the positive emotions and makes us believe that everything is good and happens for a reason.
# The effects of toxic positivity on mental health.
Too much of everything is destructive, even the positive attitude. This is because overwhelming positivity can mentally upset a person.
We all need someone to simply listen to us and support us when we are going through difficult times. Rather than providing a relaxing and homely environment, toxic positivism makes us feel ignored and worthless.
When we repeatedly pressure someone to adopt a happy mindset and compel them to repress their negative emotions, we are actually convincing them that their feelings are incorrect and should be ignored. Also, we compel them that they must not act on their emotions and must look at the positive side.
Let’s get into the specifics of how toxic positivity can impair your mental health.
1. It impacts employee well-being
A positive work environment fills employees with confidence and enthusiasm. When employees are obliged to repress their true thoughts in order to appear happy and satisfied, it disrupts their mental peace and adds another layer of confusion to their already perplexing lives, leading to mental exhaustion and anxiety.
2. It generates a sense of embarrassment
We all feel embarrassed when caught doing wrong and inappropriate things. Don’t we?
When employees are forced to remain optimistic, they are told to mask their emotions as if they’ve done something unethical at the workplace. It causes individuals to feel embarrassed, fills them with guilt, and makes it difficult for them to face others. This adds to their anxiety and puts them under more mental strain.
3. It impacts trust & relationships
Workplace trust and relationships are interconnected and are greatly affected by toxic and stressful work environments.
When employees’ emotions and feelings are not understood by their teammates and are forced to change, it lowers their trust and creates a disconnect among them.
4. It reduces engagement & productivity
Nobody can efficiently work in a stressed work setting.
Employees are more engaged and productive in a positive work environment where they feel valued. Toxic positive culture fosters a stressful situation in which employees are obliged to mask negative emotions, reactions, and situations and are only motivated to fake happiness and positivity. This reduces their engagement, impacting their performance and productivity.
5. It ruins work culture
Toxic positivity ruins work culture as it emphasizes taking a positive mindset all the time, putting additional burdens on the employees. This impact the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of employees, resulting in a decrease in work efficiency, performance, and productivity for the organization as a whole.
#The signs of toxic positivity at work
Toxic positivity at the workplace can be widespread throughout the work culture or can be present at the individual level. If you discover that results are not up to mark and the company is progressing retrogressively, and still the bosses and the team leads are enacting “everything is fine,” they have become entangled in toxic positivity.
If employees are continuously pushed to be positive despite all the hurdles and downfalls, if nobody is talking about the solutions and simply eliminating the problems, toxic culture is the reason.
Furthermore, if employees are criticized for their emotions or are compelled to realize that their emotions are unacceptable, it is because the individuals are suffering from toxic positivity.
Putting it simply, toxic positivity is anything that demands you to repress your feelings, put on a cheerful face, and create an unnatural and impractical positive environment.
#How can you handle toxic positivity at work?
Toxic positivity can lead to stressful and unrealistic settings, posing issues for both organizations and employees. To avoid toxic positivity at workstations, use the steps below to ensure everything goes smoothly and in sync.
I. At Organizational Level
- Prioritize Well-Being
As an employer, you must understand it’s okay not to be perfect all of the time. Your employees might feel low at times and might need some time to recover. If you spot anything unusual and your employees are struggling, support them and encourage them to take time off, relax and recover and formalize everything. With this little support, you can reenergize your employees and help them get on track again.
- Promote an interactive work culture
Employees in the workplace must be open to engaging with one another and sharing their views, anxieties, joy, and suggestions. This allows them to build trust and understanding between themselves. Organizations and people can actively manage circumstances without fostering toxic work cultures.
- Organizational Transparency
Without uncovering the drawbacks and inefficiencies, a company can’t thrive. Toxic positivity forces us to hide factual data, creating a false situation that can prevent organizations from taking the appropriate measures.
By being honest, transparent, and practical, a company can grow and succeed.
- Be Attentive
As an employer, you must remain vigilant in order to maintain a healthy work environment. Actively listen and observe your employees’ behaviors, and try to evaluate and understand their issues. Face the facts, devise strategies to improve, and manage the problem.
II. At Individual Level
- Develop Humanity
We all can have bad times, and nobody chooses to be depressed and feel low. By promoting toxic positivity, we are being inhuman and forcing others to be as well.
Understand that suppressing and minimizing feelings can have negative impacts on physical as well as mental health. At the individual level, we can be empathic to the person who is feeling low and make him feel good.
- Handle your Emotions
If you yourself are going through a challenging situation, don’t deny or disregard your negative emotions. Give yourself some alone time, and remember that it’s all right to feel bad sometimes. Get enough rest and get involved in something that makes you happy. Handle the situation proactively, practice self-care, and try to figure out the solutions.
- Be Courageous
If you see a colleague engaging in toxic optimism, don’t be afraid to confront him. You can also inform your leaders of this so that the problem can be handled properly. Make him aware of the consequences of toxic positivity and assist him in breaking free. This will help in personal and professional development while also keeping the organizational culture work-friendly.
# Break the Toxic Culture!
A positive mindset will help employees as well as organizations to thrive in the long run. As a result, it is critical for a company to foster an optimistic workspace while also ensuring that excessive optimism does not lead to toxic positivity.
Remember that it is okay not to be okay all of the time. Be realistic and constantly seek a problem-solving strategy rather than a problem-squashing approach.
Also, don’t ignore your bad emotions in order to appear optimistic and happy. However, keep a tap on your feelings. Attempt to handle your emotions and situation so that you can work as efficiently as possible.
Be empathic to others, give everyone their space, and be corporative to create a satisfactory work culture at your workstation.
All of these will help you deal with the toxic positivity without ruining the work environment.
Hope this detailed guide has helped you learn everything there is to know about toxic positivity at work.
It is rightly said by Heather Schuck- “You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”
Therefore, feel the most and work the hardest.