In this episode, Justin Dux chats with Peter Economy. Peter Economy is a Wall Street Journal best-selling business author, ghostwriter, developmental editor, and publishing consultant with more than 100 books to his credit (and more than 3 million copies sold). Peter’s latest book is Wait, I’m Working With Who?!? published by Career Press. He is the Leadership Guy on Inc.com and for more than a decade served as Associate Editor for Leader to Leader magazine—published by the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum in New York City. Peter taught MGT 453: Creativity and Innovation as a lecturer at San Diego State University, is on the National Advisory Council of The Art of Science Learning, and is a founding member of the board of SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Peter’s background
- How to identify toxic coworkers and bosses
- Peter’s personal experience with toxic coworkers
- How to address workplace toxicity
- Who will get the most out of Peter’s book
- How to take care of yourself, take care of the people around us, take care of the people on our team, and to build a healthy workplace
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BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- Peter’s book Wait, I’m Working With Who?
- Facts that Peter mentions
- Bad bosses are the number one reason why employees quit their jobs.
- 75% of employees dealing with their boss is the most stressful part of their job.
- Two thirds people said they would happily take a new boss over a pay raise.
- Two thirds of American employees say that they've worked in a toxic workplace at one time or another.
- Signs you’re in a toxic work environment and how to handle it
- How To Cope With Change In The Workplace
- Connect with Peter on his website, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.
Justin Dux (00:00):
We're in an office. There seems to be three males and two females gathered near an elevator. A female approaches. The group has fallen silent. The other female greets her and appears to attempt small talk on a new subject. The males have almost completely disengaged at this point, pressing a down button it's already illuminated we're staked out nearby, hoping to catch the elusive intimidated or co-worker were staked out nearby, hoping to catch the elusive intimidator. Coworker is not yet appeared. There's a yell from far away, maybe 20 feet. Hold the elevator. A male coworker says he's looked at the female and says in a short from tone looks like you'll need to catch the next one. I just sent you an email. I'll need that by the end of lunch for my one o'clock is laughing with the others. As the elevator door closes.
Welcome to CareerCloud Radio. CareerCloud.com is your resource for tips, tricks, and tools to shorten your job search. Become a modern job seeker by listening to these episodes or reading articles on our website. Job hunting sucks. We are here to make it better with us. Today is Peter Economy. Peter is the author of the book Wait, I'm working with Who? We're going to talk with him about this field guide to identifying toxic coworkers and bosses, but rather than having me introduce them, we're all job seekers here today. I start every episode with the same dreaded job interview question. So Peter, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Peter Economy (01:36):
Thanks Justin. Great to be here, boy. It seems like a long time as I look back in time and if I go through my mental resume, but I've been a professional writer for about 20 years now, I'm on Inc com. I'm made the leadership guy on Inc com. I've written almost 125 books, mostly in the business and leadership space, but done books like writing fiction for dummies writing children's books for dummies, I've done 11 or 12 different dummies books, but mostly I do ghost writing. Now I work behind the scenes with CEOs and consultants, a lot of tech people now on their books, making their books as great as they can be. So before that, before I became a professional author, I was a manager for almost 10 years. So kind of a, you know, a been around for a long time, but I love to write and I've been writing a lot of books
Justin Dux (02:24):
And I've been through many pages of your new book. And I got to say, it looks like you haven't had an easy ride of it. You've encountered a few toxic coworkers. I, some of your stories or case studies use the first person there I encountered. And you have to rely on a lot of personal experience or were you also collecting some stories as well as you wrote each case study? Yeah.
Peter Economy (02:48):
You know, most of the stories do come from personal experience. You know, I've read all kinds of stories as a part of the work I do as a writer. And I've crafted stories with many of my clients heard their stories, but most of them came from my own experience. And you know, if you look at the research there's plenty of research out there on the toxic workplace. And about two thirds of American employees say that they've worked in a toxic workplace at one time or another. And then another one fourth of those people say that they are, I've worked in at least more than one toxic workplace. So there's plenty of it going around. That's for sure. Oh,
Justin Dux (03:23):
Absolutely. And honestly you could re written this as a fiction book and it would still feel personal and raw and triggering for a lot of us workers who have encountered similar situations. And so before we get into examples of toxic coworkers and you do a really great job of what I call the field guide or making it referenceable, you know, like which 1:00 AM I dealing with today kind of quick referencing in the chapter two there, but I want to ask for a small distinction, there is a spectrum obviously of toxicity, you know, on the low end, it's just minor annoyances, you know, clipping fingernails at work or the microwaving fish in the shared cafeteria. Right. But on the other end, there is truly destructive behaviors. Bullying would be up in that category darn near psychotic that you wish you could enroll some of these, these perpetrators in programs to get help on. Right. Like help me understand where on the spectrum you feel like the book is, is really kind of focused in on.
Peter Economy (04:29):
Yeah. Well, I'd say it covers that complete spectrum. So for example, we talk about in the book, I talk about backstabbers and those people are clearly out for you. They want you to look bad. They want themselves to look good. It makes them feel better. It makes them maybe get a promotion, maybe get a raise, whatever it means, but they're out for you. Then there's people that just don't show up. I mean, I've worked in places where you've got a team. I mean, I think we've all been on a team, in a job where, you know, one person carries most of the load and one or two people just sorta, never show up. They're kind of, they'll check in every once in a while, but other busy doing other stuff. So when the thing is do whatever it is you're doing, they still get the full credit for, for being a part of it. But they're just sort of hanging back and doing their own things. So that's not as malicious, but it's still toxic. And if someone just lets it go on, if a boss lets it, go on that way, people get a little bit disturbed about that. You know, the people who are actually pulling the load on the team. Right.
Justin Dux (05:37):
And so that gets to one of the biggest problems slash outcomes of toxicity in the workplace. And that is decreased performance and morale, which it's like a chain of events. Like you could topple them, like Domino's first goes some emotional things then goes self doubt or morale and then topples over into performance and outcomes and productivity. Yeah. That was my quick summary though. How would you put it, like in terms of the problem we solve, like by addressing this kind of situation?
Peter Economy (06:12):
Yeah. Well I think just like you said, there's a spectrum of behaviors. You know, I have 16 different kinds of toxic people in the book and maybe there's more, there's maybe a thousand different kinds of toxicity if you really got into it. But I think that the reactions of people range also there, there's also a spectrum of that. Like you said, just annoyance like, oh man, who cooked that fish in the microwave again, you know, ah, jeez, all the way to, I've got to get another job. I mean, I just got to get the hell outta here. Cause you know, if, if for example, that toxic person is your boss, bad bosses are the number one reason why people leave their jobs. I mean, it's just a fact. So it could be anything from just mere annoyance to getting out, just quitting their job. And that's that's that's or even worse. I mean, it could get even worse if someone gets really mad and they could take it out on another person physically, which is, you know, in violence, which is super bad.
Justin Dux (07:10):
Right. And I've looked into bullying a little bit and I know that you can break bullies into four different kinds. You know, there's the loud screamer and yeller, like you just mentioned that shows up in movies a lot. Cause it's really dramatic, but there's people that can bully through restricting resources too and not setting up their team to succeed. And that's how they control others. You mentioned 16 total. I won't make you recite them, but I do want to have a short list and only one or two of them. We're going to talk a little bit more about in detail. But I recall the gossiper, the intimidator I mentioned at the beginning of the show helped me out with a couple more. Yeah, well there's
Peter Economy (07:49):
The credit thief, the person who always takes credit for things, there's the micromanager, you know, the boss, who's always got to have their fingers in everything, you know, and they don't trust their employees. There's complainer's there's people who are always complaining about something, you know, they're complaining about the temperature. They're complaining about the job. They've got complain, complain, complain. There's the people who just don't show up. I think the absent one, the person is just never there. It's like, where are they? Where did they go?
Justin Dux (08:19):
Okay. You didn't call him Teflon. But like, I think it was the lazy person, but like Teflon is a one where we use in our workplace of like somebody that just doesn't, you can't get anything to stick to them. Any task, any deliverable, like suddenly they just never have anything do for themselves.
Peter Economy (08:33):
Right? Yeah. It's amazing. It's quite a skill to develop that kind of a Teflon shield, I guess.
Justin Dux (08:39):
Yeah, exactly. Now I'll admit reading some of these, the chapter two there, I couldn't help, but see one or two bullet points about that. I could call my cell phone. Like, you know, nobody wants to think they're the jerk work. Nobody wants to think they're the cause of something toxic. And I sure as hell hope I'm not, but is it somewhat like too much of a good thing or the inverse of a positive behavior can sometimes become toxic? You know, like you, here's a great example. The confident pessimist you use that phrase. And I wrote it down because I was like, oh shoot. I did not intuitively think about a pessimist. Somebody who's like complaining a lot or pointing out the flaws in a deliverable technology product is also being very persuasive because they can come across very confident. And you were writing about this in the chapter. And that just really stuck with me because I know that I've been given the feedback that I can be very confident, but that makes me concerned now about if I've ever been a confident pessimist. So I'm not saying for you to analyze me. Right. But the question embedded in there is like, what should all of us do re holding this book? Should we be worried that we're the pessimist or sorry, the, the toxic person? Or is it more about identifying others?
Peter Economy (10:01):
Yeah, well, it's both, it's honestly both because they're always going to be toxic people where we work in our workplace, whether we're working at home or working at a hybrid situation, wherever we may be, we're going to run into toxic people and toxic customers, toxic vendors, you know, you name it. There's all kinds of toxic people. And you know, when you're in business, when you're working for a living, but we can sometimes be toxic ourselves. And it's hard to recognize that we often don't look in the mirror and see it in ourselves. And if you were walking down the hallway, are people trying to avoid you? Do you see, they turn around and head the other direction? Do people not want to be in a meeting with you? Are they trying to, they say, oh, I don't think I'm going to bother going to your meeting. There's all kinds of signs. And if people are telling you, you know, they're saying, you know what, you know, could you just back off, could you just back off for a minute, you know, and give me a break. So yeah,
Justin Dux (10:57):
That's the one I listened for and I'm very sensitive to now. It's like, well, we need to talk about this other topic. And your question is ignored, you know, in a meeting or something like that, because we're all fine now, you know, and I become sensitive to that. One is like my takeaway, of course in coaching was there's a purpose to the meeting we're in. And sometimes the question might feel important, but it can be asking in different setting, different people in the room. One-On-One something like that. And so you don't need to derail today's conversation for a question that could come up, you know, one-on-one to help you and your understanding of it. And so I got positive feedback from my team that I started holding questions for later. It's so embarrassing, you know, to reveal that and show that kind of coachability or adaptability there, I would hope everyone would take a field guide like this and both reflect on themselves and reflect on others. But I've got this image in my mind, Peter people walking, returning to the office later this year and with your book in hand and like pointing at everyone, oh, that might be that one or that one might be that that's not what you're talking about either, right?
Peter Economy (12:02):
No, no. I'm not saying you should make a chart. You know, I could, as you described that, I'm picturing making a little chart and filling in the blanks with Susan is, is an intimidator. And John is a micromanager and you know this other, person's a credit they've now that's not what it is about it at all. But what it is about is there are toxic people and not everyone's going to be toxic. I mean, hopefully it's this one out of 10 people or one out of 20 people or whatever the magic number is in your workplace. But when that person is pushing your buttons and that's the way it was for me, I mean, I, I ran into a toxic person. And when I got my first job as a manager and the person I was working with, thought she should have gotten a job as a manager. And oh boy did. She pushed my buttons, every staff meeting, she got a chance. She would just push my buttons and it took me a while to figure that out. So I think this book is really a guide for when you run into those toxic people, figuring out what kind of toxic people they are, and then having some strategies for dealing with that.
Justin Dux (13:03):
Absolutely. And in a moment, we're going to go into those strategies. But first I want to address what you just said about pushing buttons and call out that what Peter's referring to is the perpetrator in this story gets something out of it. Pushing buttons means they get what they want, which is a reaction, or to knock somebody down a peg or two, or the perceived idea that somebody else in the room is seeing you differently. There's so many different contexts and we can't go into all of them, but pushing a button is for a purpose to get what that button does in return. And I want people who go and pick up this book and think about their situations they've encountered at work to remember nothing happens without a reason. There's very little conversation that just doesn't have some agenda to reach. You know, now, normally as coworkers, you're trying to reach the agenda of delivering the project or delivering the initiative or task, right? But when these people come into the room, they have other agendas, you know, they're angling for promotion, they're angling to compete. They're angling to reach their dream job. You know, those agendas somehow pushing that button and getting that reaction is going somewhere.
Peter Economy (14:17):
Yeah, exactly. And that's the whole thing. I mean, that's why you work. That's why you have your job is to accomplish something as achieved the goals of the organization, whether that's to create a product, deliver a service, you know, you might be working internally to deliver services within your organization is like the accounting, AP person, accounts, payable person, the HR person, whatever it might be. But toxic people do have their own agendas. They have something else in mind that they want to achieve. That's not necessarily the goals of the company. It's not the company's goals. It's to achieve their own goals. Like you said, to get a promotion, to get a raise, to make it look better in front of the boss to make others look bad, make you look bad. That's something that's harder to identify. I know I personally tend to think that everyone is good, that, you know, I think it's that half glass fall type of attitude that I think the person, unless they prove otherwise is a good person. And so I expect people to not be toxic. And then when someone is, I might not realize it for a little while, until all of a sudden it just hits me between the eyes and I go, oh my God, that person's pushing my buttons. Why are they doing this? You know? And then, then dealing with it. So
Justin Dux (15:30):
The first clue people will have is that their button has been pushed or that's usually an emotional response. So let's go into the strategies now, how do you diffuse this situation when you are starting that emotional rise of, I think I've just been triggered.
Peter Economy (15:50):
Yeah. And you've identified really the key there it's emotions. And I think that these toxic people, they're sort of like emotional vampires, I guess you could call it. They love that emotion. They thrive on that emotion, watching you react, watching you get all emotional and upset, they're emotional vampires. And so what that means is the first thing you need to do is, is identify the emotion that you're expressing. Are you mad? Are you upset? Are you embarrassed? What is it? And then disconnect from it. You just need to take a step back and say, why am I reacting this way? What's triggering me. And it's that button. It's that button that, that person has pushed. So once you step back and realize that I am becoming emotional, I'm getting upset. Then you can do something about it. You don't have an example that that manager or the person who I, I became a manager and this woman was upset because she thought she should have been the manager. She was triggering me in staff meetings. And my, it took my boss pointing out to me, said, you know, you need to not react. You need to step back. And she's just pushing your buttons. You need to step back and not take her bait. You need to. And I didn't even realize that I wasn't recognizing it until my boss pointed it out. And then I said, oh, okay. Right. You're right. She's pushing my buttons. I, I stepped back detached from the emotion and I was able to deal with it.
Justin Dux (17:16):
And I want to draw a little underline on that. Cause that's a very difficult procedure you just described. So I want to just kind of draw some emphasis on it. Not reacting is complete diffusion and in the case of a toxic person, because that's why I was saying so clearly earlier, pushing the button, determ has an outcome though, of reaction that you do. So if that's feeling insecure, if that's feeling controlled, like to some of your examples, like not feeling that that's very difficult, very difficult. This is an advanced technique here for master co-workers. If, if we all could do these things that we would have much better relationships at work, but the thing is, as you work on that skill of not reacting and delaying the outcome that pressing that button button should have, there is this toxic person now that has lost their power. They don't have the reaction they're going for they. So now they're confused, disoriented. And like what it's like stunning somebody in a video game, they can't immediately adjust very well because usually when they do what they just did push a button, a reaction comes next and they get to watch the show.
Peter Economy (18:27):
Exactly. And you were an easy mark. You were an easy play, like you said, in a video game, you pushed the button and you react. And when you don't, there's that confusion, you know? So either a they're going to try to push the button harder. You know, that's a natural reaction, push that button harder or more often. Or, and this is probably more, most often they'll just go off and find someone else's buttons to push they'll. They'll they'll realize, oh, I guess this doesn't work anymore with Peter. Maybe I'll work on Joe. How about Joe? So let's try his buttons.
Justin Dux (19:01):
Well, and I've seen some teams managers, unfortunately that's one of their few tactics that's easiest. And without the, with the least amount of confrontation is to change people around and reorg who's working on what, and now the toxic persons paired with somebody else. Like, I don't know that that's the most effective way to deal with the toxic person, but it definitely changes the victim to your point.
Peter Economy (19:25):
Right? Exactly. Changes the dynamics and, and maybe the person that got, you know, you said you shifted them around. Maybe that person doesn't react the same way. I mean, there's a lot of times when you've got a bunch of coworkers, maybe you've got a team that's not working well together and you just change it up, you change up the team and maybe they'll work better. Maybe those dynamics change. And for whatever reason, the team's not working that change.
Justin Dux (19:49):
Yeah. Playing the game and not playing the game. I mean, that's what you named the chapter four, I think was don't play the game and it's perfectly apt to what we're talking about today. Unfortunately, toxic people see it as some sort of game. Now what about subconscious toxic behaviors at the beginning, we talked about spectrum. You know, I think we've gotten to gravitate towards the people who know they're toxic possibly and are wanting that outcome. Let's go more to the other side and talk about people that might be toxic. And they're not really aware of their being this way.
Peter Economy (20:26):
Yeah. That's a really good point. Cause I, you know, I think I naturally tend to think in terms of people who are intentionally toxic. I mean, that's what seems to get all the articles right? When I write articles about it, that's what I talk about. But you're right. I mean, I think that there are a lot of people out there who are unintentionally, unconsciously toxic. And you know, in that case, they're not being malicious. They're not it intentionally. They're not doing it to try to hurt you or get a rise out of you. Even though maybe they are getting a rise out of you. That's not their intent. It's just the way they are. It's just something that they do. It's the way that maybe they've been brought up in a way, maybe they came out of a household that they yell and scream at each other. That's the way they show their love by yelling and screaming. You'll know, you'll
Justin Dux (21:07):
Recognize these people. If somebody in your team says, oh, that's just insert name here.
Peter Economy (21:15):
That's just how Sue is. Right. That's just how it is.
Justin Dux (21:18):
Oh, John's got a strong personality.
Peter Economy (21:20):
Exactly. Yeah. And we just overlooked that. We just, you know, that's just the way it is that we just take that with a grain of salt. So yeah, I think if it's kind of harmless and it's not really hurting you, if it's just kind of bugging you a little bit, that's one of the things I talk about is sort of like don't sweat the small stuff. I mean, if it's something it's not that big of a deal, then just try to ignore it. But when it is hurting people, when it is causing problems, when people are disengaging from their teams, when people are becoming less productive because of a person like this, you've got to talk to them, you know, you've got to communicate, you've got to open up that channel and say, you know what? I don't think you're being malicious. I don't think you're doing it to be mean. But what you do is causing a problem here with your coworkers and we need to talk about it. We need to work on that. So
Justin Dux (22:07):
Is your book for managers as well then, because I'm thinking of later in the book, I read a several pages where a case study kept getting longer, where you introduced a story and then you kind of kept going on that story in multiple iterations because it was through the manager's eyes. I think it was Chelsea and Ryan, you were talking about, but there's so many lessons from talking about toxicity from being a coworker, being a manager, being a hiring person, you know, who do you think is going to get the most out of reading about this?
Peter Economy (22:40):
Yeah, well, I, I would say, you know, and I don't know if it's a cop out or what, but I mean, first of all, any employee who is dealing with a toxic workplace is going to get a lot out of this book because it helps you identify the kinds of toxic people in your life. And then what to do. It gives you specific strategies on how to deal with it. But I think the, sort of the meta message, there's a higher level message that is for bosses, that toxicity in the workplace is going to make your job more difficult. It's going to make your organization, your team less productive. And it's something you can't just ignore. I think too many bosses ignore toxicity. They just sort of say, oh, you know, especially when you've got an employee, who's just a high performer. So you've got a salesperson. This is the story. This is the typical story where top sales person best, you know, they bring in twice the revenue of everybody else, twice the sales of anybody else. But boy, they're a church. They're the biggest jerk in the office. And people don't want to work with them. You've got a boss has to deal with that. And it may mean, you know, a lot of counseling. It may mean letting that go. I mean, if it's that bad. So I think it's a message for bosses too. It's a book for bosses too.
Justin Dux (23:52):
This is so funny. Every anecdote you bring up, I've only been in the workforce 15 years, every anecdote you brought up, I can think of a real time. It happened while you're talking about this sales rep. Oh, there was the six months I was working at a car dealership. I can picture him, you know, where he was getting double the sales of everyone else. I can understand the general manager's perspective of like, I can't fire him. He's very effective. But yet the other sales reps moral was very low around him on the days he was working. Because quite literally, I think it was a feat, a little bit of a thievery. Like you worried that your deals were showing up on his board kind of thing, right? The moment you took a day off, of course, that's the day your customer comes back into the dealership. You know, stuff like that. Exactly. I feel like before we take a break here, I want to just hit one more strategy because I feel like we've definitely talked through the problem at length, but we might not have given enough strategy to people. Could you talk more about the power of correctly identifying which person you're dealing with?
Peter Economy (24:56):
So it's really a key step in this whole part of and parcel of getting through a toxic situation. I've listed 16 different kinds of toxic people. There are more of them out there, but you've got to figure out what kind of person you're dealing with. What is their motivation? Someone who is a backstabber has got a completely different motivation than someone who's just not showing up for the team. And those motivations are key to then neutralizing that kind of a person and helping them turn it around. I mean, let's assume that this person wants to get better. Let's assume they don't want to be a jerk. Let's assume that they want to have a more productive workplace. They want to have people thanking them. And instead of avoiding them, you know, people wanting to work with them. So you're actually helping them by identifying this kind of behavior.
Peter Economy (25:48):
You know, if someone's stealing credit, when you identify that and then you can help them identify this, you might actually make their life better and you're going to make your life better. You're gonna make your coworkers lives better. And their life might also be better to maybe they're unconscious, like you said, and this is really a key, cause I mean, I hadn't even really thought about this all in conscious aspect of it. Maybe they're not conscious that they're, they're stealing credit. You know, they're taking credit all the time. That's just the way they roll. Maybe they're used to it because their parents rewarded. Their teachers rewarded for that in school or college
Justin Dux (26:21):
Supported men for that women in technology are very
Peter Economy (26:24):
Well aware of that. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, look at it that way, where identify the kind of person they are, the kind of toxic person they are, that'll help you get to their motivation and then be able to neutralize it. That's key.
Justin Dux (26:39):
Yeah. I think neutralizes the perfect word for it because it brings to mind the images of chemistry and applying the exact right catalyst, whether it be like a base element or a asset element or something to neutralize the effects, that's the reaction that's happening. It's a great, great image mentally from high school chemistry. Yeah. Yeah.
Peter Economy (26:58):
That's cool. I hadn't thought about it that way. That's perfect. I mean, if you've got an acidic person, that's, you know what one on the scale then even neutralize with a base, you know, the 14 or whatever it is, you know, an alcoholic, the liar, whatever
Justin Dux (27:11):
He bought into the concept of levels though. That's perfect. You don't want to overcompensate too. You don't want to pour so much of this solution on them that you've overreacted either. So like that's what your book teaches is this concept of correctly identify the scale too. So that the attempt you make to resolve this, isn't the equivalent of nuking them. I learned at a previous job, but the idea of like, if you go skip level to the next person's boss and to report this person, you've nuked them. You've gone way too far. Now you're going to look weird because of the disproportionality of what you might have taken as an action. And you don't even recommend going to your boss right away in the book. No.
Peter Economy (27:53):
And I think you're exactly right. The last thing you want to do is you, you don't want to nuke that person. And that's why I really try to get my readers to refrain from just running to their boss for this or for anything, you know, try to resolve it yourself. You want to, you know, one-on-one talk to this person and resolve these things yourself. The last thing your boss needs is for you to go running to them, trying to solve every problem in the workplace. I mean, it's better if you can solve it yourself. And again, that's what this book is all about. To give you the tools that you can solve, these kinds of issues yourself, and take on this toxicity and solve it. I love the idea again, of this proportionate response to neutralize a situation, instead of nuking someone, meet them where they're at. If they're a four on that acid scale, hit them with an eight on the, on the the base scale or whatever, you know, just neutralize
Justin Dux (28:43):
Them. Exactly. We're going to take a short break. And when we come back, we'll do our recurring section out of context.
Speaker 3 (28:52):
Frank Blake was a guest on career cloud radio on November 9th, 2020.
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That website is spelled M Y J O B O L O G y.com. My job biology.com.
Justin Dux (30:06):
Welcome back. We're speaking with Peter economy. The author of wait, I'm working for a who, a book about toxic coworkers and strategies to address them as we return here from break. I wanted to turn the topic over to those toxic bosses as a previous guest called them boss holes. Oh, huh. For a moment and read from a page of your book, page 17 this one single sentence just hit me between the eyes quote, after working for a bad boss, it takes almost two years for stress levels to return to a healthy level and quote.
Peter Economy (30:46):
Yeah. The simple fact is is that bosses are incredibly bad. Bosses are incredibly stressful. Again, Gallup has done research and this bad bosses are the number. One reason why employees quit their jobs. 75% of employees dealing with their boss is the most stressful part of their job. And two thirds of those people said they would happily take a new boss over a pay raise. So that gives you some kind of indication of just how bad it is having a bad boss. And I think we've all had a bad bosses. I mean, I I've worked in a lot of different jobs before I went on my own and not all my bosses were great. I mean, some of my bosses were pretty bad or they were a bad bosses in my organization that we could see from afar and just speak loud, you know, kind of count our blessings that we weren't working for them.
Peter Economy (31:34):
But yeah, I mean, having a bad boss can be sometimes psychologically abusive when they're not trusting you when they're not giving you a thorough it autonomy. When there you start second guessing every decision you make, sometimes they get they'll they're yellers. I mean, some bosses are yellers. So yeah, a couple of years it can take a couple of years to recover from a bad boss. You know, a lot of people will just quit. They'll just say, you know what? I've had enough I'm out of here. Let me go work somewhere else where I can not have to deal with this bad boss. So it's a big problem.
Justin Dux (32:11):
Especially if they're a top performer in a player, if their insecurity button hasn't been pressed too much, they are still highly valuable to another employer. So you're right. They might just leave. And now you've cost the company a great person for what control for whatever agenda that toxic person had. There's one thing I wanted to draw attention to in that sentence. As I wrote it down for today's Peter, it struck me as I had to type out every letter, just to be able to read it out to you here, just now that last two words, healthy level, it doesn't say normal level. And I want to draw attention to this people listening that suffering through a toxic worker, the longer you do that, you might not get back to normal. You're going to get back to a new place. That's probably just healthier for you than, you know, something like that. It's mindblowing concept. I think, to realize that subtle word change of normal versus healthy, especially as we go back from the pandemic and we're going to have new triggers, new buttons as a result of a virus being in the workforce, I'm a little worried about the first person to cough or get an allergy reaction. Like I have to check myself and say, this is just a minor annoyance. It's not the virus. You know what I mean?
Peter Economy (33:35):
Right. Yeah. Yeah. And that it is a subtle difference, but you're so right, because we're in a new normal, I mean, this is going to be a new world that we're going into. And many of us are not going to be returning to the same old workplace we once were in and we are not going to be in a normal situation. We're going to be, if we can just say that we're healthy. If we can just return to some modicum of health where we're psychologically feeling good, where physically feeling good, that it's going to be a great thing. Yeah. We're in a new normal.
Justin Dux (34:12):
Yeah. We don't want to suggest by the title of Peter's book, that we should be accusing all of our coworkers for every idiosyncrasy and personality trait that bothers us. We should always assume the best and, and imagine that they are completely unaware of some behavior that might be impacting you. But in order to Peter's point to have healthy relationships with coworkers, sometimes you do have to air how it's impacting you. You know, sometimes you're going to have a difficult conversation with a boss about why you need to work from home or why you need to move your desk farther away. If it's distracting you and it's not their fault or yours, it's just the new normal to stay healthy.
Peter Economy (34:54):
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. It's so important to take care of yourself, you know, to take care of ourselves, but also to take care of the people around us, the people on our team, and to build a healthy workplace, a place that everyone feels safe feels good. Wants to go to. I mean, you want people to want to go to work who actually are happy when they get in their cars or our commute get on a subway, whatever they're doing instead of going, oh my God, I gotta go there again. Not again. I
Justin Dux (35:26):
Realized now in our expert to the, I accidentally distracted us with the word health away from the original point, that of the whole sentence, which was the two years for a bad boss. Like that's just a long time. I think the, you know, 24 months that sounded like such a large time. Peter, what did it mean to you when you read that the first time? Cause that's actually based on some of the research you did for the book. I remember.
Peter Economy (35:49):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is an incredibly long amount of time and it's hard to believe that that residual and it is research. I mean, this has been researched. It's hard to believe that people's, I don't know if it's a physiological change, a mental change could be effected for so long, but it just shows you yeah, it's trauma. It's actually a traumatic situation. And that trauma, I mean, I know people carry trauma for their entire lives. You know, when they've had gone through really bad trauma and being, having a bad boss is going through trauma, you're being traumatized. And the longer you go through that and the more, the stronger that trauma is the longer it's going to linger. So for two years, I mean, that's, that's probably an average. I could imagine that people have been through some really bad bosses. It's even longer than two years and you know, a little bit of mild, bad bossiness. Okay. Maybe it lasts for a few months, but on average for two years, that's pretty bad. Yeah.
Justin Dux (36:45):
I'll end this segment on some of the best advice I got when I was like 18, I was definitely dealing with one of those yellow bosses. And my only coworker was a small business. He brought me aside one day and said, Justin, I've been working 10 years longer than you man. Like, I just gotta tell ya what I'm observing between him and you. I wouldn't stand for that, but I guess you're young and you're in a different point in your career. So let me just tell you this, Justin, when you get your first paycheck at your new employer, you will forget about this person. You will completely forget about me and us. And I'm okay with that because that's life that's work. I'm going to stay here because one of my, some of my goals are I can deal with this, but you shouldn't at your point in your career. I got to say that whole conversation kind of replays in my man, my mind right now, some of the best advice I ever got at such a young age, you know? Well,
Peter Economy (37:44):
Terrific advice. That's fabulous. I mean, what you lucky to have someone take you aside and tell you that because a lot of people aren't and they ended up getting,
Justin Dux (37:53):
Yeah. Do you recommend that if people observe a toxic situation happening with a different coworker, so now you're a third party that they do what my coworker did and kind of say, Hey, I don't know if you've noticed this yet. Cause you're the victim here, but that's not right.
Peter Economy (38:09):
Yeah, totally. It's that? See something, say something and yeah, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. If you see someone being abused, someone being the brunt of the toxicity, for sure. Talk to them, you know, they may not recognize it. They may be like I was when I took that first management job and I was, my buttons are getting pushed and I just didn't understand it. I mean, I was reacting, but I didn't really see it. I just knew I was getting upset. And my boss didn't take me aside. I mean, it's the same thing. He basically took me aside and said, Hey, don't react. Don't fall into her trap. She's baiting you. You don't have to do that. You don't need to, you can do something different. I realized at that point I realized, and I started doing something different and it worked out.
Justin Dux (38:58):
Yeah. And I keep repeating my, a guest from a few episodes back Brett hill, he says open up a new possibility. You're frustrated because you think of only one path forward, one frustration, one outcome. But if you open up your mind to some new possibilities like that, boss was suggesting to you, some new freedoms can happen out of that. So if somebody wants to get this book and a hand it to their coworker is a wonderful field guide for them to deal with a situation they might have observed. Where should they go?
Peter Economy (39:31):
The book can be found on amazon.com. Wait, I'm working with who or if you can just go to my website, Peter economy.com and you'll find it right there and click the button and you can get a copy. Excellent.
Justin Dux (39:44):
And we will also have those links up on career cloud.com for the episode page as well. I do like repeating the links anyway, just because spellings are weird in the English language. His is pretty phonetical though. Peter P E T E R an economy, just like the textbook E C O N O M y.com. Peter economy.com. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Peter Economy (40:10):
Thank you, Justin and I had a blast. This is great.
Justin Dux (40:12):
I had a blast too. CareerCloud Radio is a production of CareerCloud.com. Please review this episode on iTunes. We really appreciate it a lot. And thank you.