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By Gabriela Casineanu

Yes, the workplace environment could shape the way employees work with each other!

While most people become easily aware of the physical aspect of an unhealthy workplace environment, not too many pay attention to the human behaviors that could poison the workplace environment... or don't know what to do in such situations. And those behaviors could damage the workplace relationships and affect how employees work with each other.

Let's take look at some poisonous behaviors:
  1. Blaming/ Criticism. These behaviors, whether they start from the upper management or within the team, have a high impact on how employees work with each other. Who can perform well and enjoy the collaboration with someone who always looks at the empty half of the glass of water, and sees only to what else is expected, but ignores what was well done? Human beings need encouragement for the things well done and the good behaviors, not only directions and critiques. When someone takes the time to acknowledge you and your work, you are willing to perform even better.
  2. Stonewalling. Did you notice in the workplace people who don't want to talk with each other? This is stonewalling. There might be reasons behind that behavior, but perpetuating it could affect the work results. In any workplace people need to communicate to understand the work requirements, to ask/ receive feedback and to collaborate. And when stonewalling kicks in, it changes the team dynamics in an unhealthy way. Being open and asking questions could help ease the work atmosphere, increase awareness about each other's point of view and the reasons behind them (instead of getting stuck in your own thoughts and beliefs).
  3. Defensiveness. This behavior is usually triggered by blaming or criticism. When you notice reacting this way, step back a few seconds and think: is it me or a certain behavior that is discussed here? Taking it personal will lead into defensiveness, which will not make the situation better. But being able to understand what is the "golden" aspect of that discussion, and being willing to implement your learning could lead to a more positive work environment. Accepting or perpetuating the game blaming/criticism - defensiveness could escalate into a conflict, that certainly is not welcomed in any workplace.
  4. Contempt could include sarcasm, belittling, cynicism, name-calling, hostile humor, and belligerence. It is the worst of the poisonous behaviors mentioned in this article, because it could harm the health of an individual. Who would like to be part of a team when this behavior is present, and silently accepted? Not only it makes people feel bad (even if they're not directly involved), but people tend to close themselves in such conditions or they form silos based on the power they think they have (or not) on others, not based on the work tasks and projects they are involved in. Communication and collaboration between people from different silos are also affected.
If you are confronted with any of these behaviors, keep in mind that most of the others reactions are based on their own issues, not yours. These behaviors might be triggered by something that you did or said, or not. The important thing is to keep your calm and not feed one of these behaviors by using another one.

Taking responsibility for your own actions, is another important aspect to ponder. Even when you consider inappropriate the others behaviors, there might be something to learn from each situation.


There are so many aspects of the workplace environment that affect how employees work with each other. What do you think about this topic?

Gabriela Casineanu

Gabriela Casineanu is an Organisation and Relationship Systems Coach, Facilitator, Catalyst and Thoughts Designer. She assists her clients (professionals, companies and organisations) to find success from within, by becoming more resourceful. Check out her website http://thoughtsdesigner.com, and subscribe to her monthly newsletter for more useful information.