Survey Shows Bad Attitudes Can Spread To OthersToxicity breeds toxicity, according to a new survey of workplace environments. Odds are good that you’ve been in a hostile work environment. You know how exhausting it can be to deal with snide comments, put downs, sarcasm or passive aggressive behavior that seems to run rampant in some offices.

Even if you have an especially gentle nature, the temptation can be great to start responding like that of toxic peers. In fact, odds are good that you’re doing exactly that, without even realizing it.

The reality is that exposure to such behaviors is extremely draining. It takes a lot out of you, and the more you’re exposed to it, the more likely you are to start incorporating similar behaviors on a subconscious level.

That leads invariably to not only responding to those around you who are behaving in an uncivilized manner, but to tend to lash out at others who haven’t been treating you that way. That, in turn, only makes the problem worse, and this is the mechanism by which incivility spreads throughout an office environment.

It’s made worse in environments where job duties, goals and objectives aren’t clearly defined, as this creates a situation that opens the door for people to start acting on their own self-interest, rather than acting in the best interests of the company.

There are two basic approaches to take when dealing with this kind of incivility. First, confront it when you see it. Call it out. Ask the person behaving in that manner what’s driving it and why they’re doing it. Sometimes, they might not even be aware they’re doing it, and simply bringing it to their attention is enough to make it stop.

Before you call the other person out though, step back a minute. Take a breath. Better yet, take a walk. Give yourself five minutes to cool down so that when you call the other person out, you’re not doing so in exactly the same uncivil manner. Do that consistently, and over time, you can actually start reversing the trend.