I recently ended a professional relationship. That difficult decision and all the events that led up to that moment have drained me of energy for many months. I didn’t realize how much of a psychic drain it has been until a few days after the event. Now I wonder why I let this toxic relationship go on as long as I did.
Sometimes I’m an idiot.
I’ve written before about how important it is for us as humans and educators to put ourselves first (see Teachers: Put Your Oxygen Mask On First) and how essential it is for our students that we take time to refresh and renew. I even wrote earlier this year about the toxic volunteer relationship. I have worked really hard to do all these things in my life to manage my own stress level in an effort to lead a happier life. I take time (most days) to spend time on things that make me happy. I take time out of my busy schedule for activities I enjoy with people who inspire me. I strive on a daily basis to avoid negative relationships and conversations, but despite all that I allowed one toxic professional relationship to continue long past a point when I should have. So this week’s Notable Notes will focus on this idea in hopes that you can avoid this painful, draining situation in your life or at least take steps to minimize it.
I begin with Mark Banschick’s article “Getting Unstuck: The Toxic Relationship” because it provides a great overview about how to recognize a toxic relationship as well as what to do about it. While his focus is on a romantic rather than professional relationship, I found his advice to be spot on.
Writer Access also shares some important insights in the article “Know When To Fold ‘Em: How to End a Toxic Professional Relationship” because it is so difficult to walk away from money, but there are times that the benefit of the money does not balance out the drawbacks of the toxic relationship. We need to take stock to determine that this relationship is really working to our benefit.
Robert Bitting describes the many forms of toxic employees (or co-workers) we can find in the workplace. I just love this quote: “A toxic employee is like having a low-grade infection. You can live with it for a while but, if not properly treated, it can develop into a full-blown infection – making you, and your business, suffer.”
We do not always have the power to take the steps that Bitting describes, especially if our toxic professional relationship is with a co-worker or boss, but there are things we can do to minimize their damage on our emotional and professional lives. We can ask for a new work station or shift — or we can simply change when/where we eat our lunch or take our break. Minimizing contact with a toxic co-worker can often go a long way to improve our work life.