What Is Toxic Positivity at Work and Ways to Manage It

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Sarvika Aggarwal

06 February 2024

7 Mins

“Just be happy.”

“Chin up, yo; this is how workplaces work.”

Are you familiar with such dialogues? I am sure you are if you have worked in a corporate environment where these things are thrown at every employee in the name of being “positive” or "happy.” However, this is what is simply known as toxic positivity.

Toxic positivity means promoting happiness all the time and suppressing other emotions in the name of positivity. Gen Z slogans like “no complaints” or “positive vibes only” tend to set a bad example for the employees. So although it is good to be positive, there is a thin line between being positive and being toxic positive.

There is a huge increase in toxic positivity in the workplace for the sake of being happy all the time so that it doesn’t affect your work or performance. However, it is important to give the employees their breathing space and not idealize the concept of being positive all the time.

Let’s read more on how to spot toxic positivity and not become a part of it.

what is toxic positivity?

What Is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity is always showing and encouraging others to show positive emotions, even though you are not even feeling positive from the inside. This means suppressing the negative emotions, which can often lead to depression, isolation, or anxiety.

So even though being positive is a good thing, choosing to act positive even though you are not and forcing yourself to suppress other human emotions is pure torture, which is the main toxic positivity definition.

Here are some toxic positivity examples — if an employee is sad or upset because of something their manager said and they are told to be happy and not disturb the workplace with their negative emotions, it is toxic positivity. Moreover, if you are told to act a certain way knowing that you are going through a tough time, that is also toxic positivity.

what is toxic positivity and what are the examples?

How Can Toxic Positivity Impact Mental Health?

While it may seem like a good thing to be positive all the time, it can have dire consequences for you and your overall health. Have a look at how positive toxicity impacts you:

1. Increases stress

Being positive all the time and not giving any space for your other emotions to come out can become extremely exhausting, which can lead to high stress levels and even burnout.

2. Low mood

Being happy all the time can make you feel extremely low from the inside, as your emotions or feelings are not getting the space to come out. Moreover, always feeling happy on the outside can make you feel pretentious or that you do not care about yourself.

3. Puts pressure

It can put unbinding pressure on you to always be positive and not be yourself, which can also make you feel unreal and not true to yourself.

puts pressure can make one feel unreal

4. Impacts well-being

Suppressing your emotions can make you feel heavy and burned out, which can have a further effect on your overall well-being.

5. Reduces socialisation

Being told to be positive all the time can make you feel lonely and innately make you avoid people or not socialize, believing that no one will understand you.

toxic positivity can make you feel lonely, avoid people

How Toxic Positivity in the Workplace Looks

If you do not know what toxic positivity in the workplace looks like, here are some ways to determine that and help yourself.

1. Everything is good

You might hear this dialogue very often if you are working in a toxic dynamic where it is often told all is good and everything is absolutely fine when it really isn’t. Saying this only leads to the suppression of emotions, which leads to employees feeling frustrated and burned out.

2. Just remain positive; we got it

Not letting employees speak their hearts out and pushing them to always remain positive can stop a company from growing. Moreover, it can also lead to a hindrance to both the employees health and the culture of the company, which will eventually make employees leave.

3. This is how workplaces are

Simply saying that is how workplaces work and we cannot do anything about it shows how close minded the company is and that it only thrives on conventional rules. Moreover, having too many rules on how an employee should function can have a huge impact on the health of employees and even on the company’s reputation and growth.

this is how workplaces are with too many rules that can have a huge impact on health

4. Do not create a negative aura

If an employee wishes to talk to another employee or their manager about something that bothered them in the workplace but is told not to, it can lead to the employee feeling dejected and not heard. This will further reflect on the employee feeling stuck, depressed, or anxious.

5. Disgusting over negativity

Some employees tend to be overly disgusted by negativity and are all about setting positive vibes, which is not possible in the real world. Such an environment can cause a huge ruckus and make the employee feel out of place in their own workplace.

disgusting over negativity

Difference Between Toxic Positivity and Positivity

A lot of people do not understand the difference between toxic positivity and positivity and it shows in the way they present themselves and their words. So here are some toxic positivity examples and statements for a better understanding:

Toxic StatementsPositive Statements
Good vibes onlyHey, do you want to talk about this?
Things happen for a reasonThat must have been hard, I am here if you want to talk
Someone always has worse than youI understand how upsetting that must be for you
We never get more than we can handleHey, if you need any help, just let me know
You can choose to be happyYour feelings are absolutely valid. Do you wish to talk about it?

what is the differences between toxic positivity and positivity

How to Deal With Toxic Positivity at Work

Toxic positivity is quite normal in today’s time; however, it is important to step back and take a stand for yourself, your company, and your employees health. So here are some ways you can help your employees and the company foster an environment of care and growth:

1. Check in with your employees

Keep one check in call every month with each one of your employees so you know the intricacies of their work, mental health, general things, and the overall company. It is important to give your employees their personal space but it is also important that you value them and ask about them as they help you flourish your business and goals.

2. Create a safe and healthy environment

Foster an environment of care, growth, and learning where the employees feel open to talking about their emotions, stress, and even burnout, so that if they wish to take a leave or go on vacation, it isn’t ridiculed but encouraged for their betterment.

3. Go for an employee wellness program

Invest in an employee wellness program that helps your company and your employees thrive on better health, mentally and physically. This will eventually lead to better performance and growth, but most importantly, the therapy sessions and physical exercises will help the employees manage their stress and tensions in a healthy manner.

4. Encourage communication

A lot of companies do not even talk to each other, especially if they are running remotely. However, it is important to know your employees and let them in on the inner happenings of the company so that they know that communication is encouraged in the organization and that it is absolutely safe to share whatever you are feeling with the company.

5. Be empathetic

The company’s health depends a lot on the tone and language of the managers. So while the work might be good, if the managers or even employees are rude or treat people badly, it will only lead to the downfall of the company. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy decorum and talk to employees or anyone else who is working in the office empathetically and politely.

While there are many other things that can help you deal with toxic positivity at the workplace, these are some of the few things a company can do from their end. However, if they do not, don’t stop yourself from taking your stand and communicating how you feel about positive toxicity to your manager or HR freely and without any fear or shame.

how to deal with toxic positivity at work?

How Can Now&Me Help?

If you are looking for an employee wellness program to help maintain a sense of decorum and encourage empathy at your workplace at affordable rates with a customised plan, then you are at the right place.

With the Now&Me Employee Wellness Program, you will be able to understand how to maintain a positive environment, build empathy, improve the company’s structure, and create a healthier workplace for your employees.

Along with this, you will also get customised metrics, weekly check-ins, multiple domain experts for your problem statement, self-help resources, how to avoid positive toxicity, and instant customer support ready for you and your employees anytime of the day.

If you wish to know more about this, you can contact us at partnerships@nowandme.com and we will get back to you right away.

Sources

  1. Toxic positivity at work: Examples and ways to manage it. Published October 2022. https://www.betterup.com/blog/toxic-positivity

  2. Toxic Positivity—Why It's Harmful and What to Say Instead. Published May 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-toxic-positivity-5093958

Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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