Toxic workplace behaviours that improve with more resilience

Challenging workplace behaviours like passive aggression, defensiveness, refusal to compromise, bullying, micromanagement and people-pleasing are directly affected by how resilient we feel.


We do these things habitually, especially when we are burned out and stressed, if there is a base level of insight, emotional awareness or control that is missing. Most have their roots in our experience as a human, rather than as an employee or a manager, which is why it’s so vital to address the person behind the job title. And why resilience coaching and training can make such a positive difference to workplace behaviour.

Micromanaging, passive aggression, refusal to compromise

For example, someone with a strong fear of failure could see micromanaging as a natural way to manage that fear. An employee who grew up in a household where admitting being wrong was a weakness will not be someone who compromises easily at work. And the person who learned early on in life that their real feelings were not welcome might see passive aggression and people pleasing as the only way to communicate in an office environment. We don’t leave who we are at home when enter the workplace - a “professional” facade is a myth - and for solutions to work this reality needs to be part of the equation.

70% of toxic behaviour goes unresolved

A survey by Worknest in 2023 found that many employers simply don’t know how to tackle destructive behaviours - or have tried, and failed, to do so using existing approaches. And that 70% of toxic behaviour in the workplace goes unresolved. That’s despite the fact that toxic behaviours can lead to low morale, higher levels of stress and burnout and a sometimes staggering (and costly) turnover rate.

Toxic behaviours aren't an entirely conscious choice

While it might seem counterintuitive, providing more support to someone who is exhibiting behaviours like this can actually be a more effective way forward than action that creates more conflict and hostility. Very few of us behave destructively simply because we want to. Usually, it’s either a response to an internal pain or a bad habit that we’ve never realised we could stop. When that support comes from an external third party it has a level of objectivity that someone who is already uncomfortable in a corporate hierarchy is more likely to engage with.

More resilience breaks toxic cycles

Being more resilient creates emotional flexibility and the ability to adapt away from the behaviours and habits that we’ve been repeating in life up to now. Rather than being stuck in the same old patterns we’ve been doing again and again since childhood we start to see what these patterns are - how they are restricting, rather than supporting, our working lives - and acquire the tools to change them.

That’s why resilience coaching focuses on improving emotional awareness. Understanding the role the nervous system plays in how we act - because we are much more likely to automatically respond in old, unhealthy ways when we are fight, flight freeze. And providing simple tools to increase resilience to improve behaviour when under pressure. 

We are human beings who are constantly experiencing feelings

And continually acting in response to what our nervous system tells us to do. No one can go through life without understanding how to navigate this inner landscape. There will always come a point when ignoring your emotions - or fight, flight, freeze response - does damage. Whether that is burnout or hurting others. 

Resilience coaching delivers an understanding of how we function under pressure. As well as habit and behaviour changes that can alter this to something more positive. Whether through one-to-one coaching or group workshops, it’s an incredibly effective way to give people more control over how they feel and respond - and improve workplace culture as a result.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Winchester, Hampshire, SO23
Written by Alex Pett
Winchester, Hampshire, SO23

Alex is an ICF trained and NLP cert coach focused on helping people to deepen their resources to adapt and bounce back - and go on to thrive. She works with resilience to help clients build confidence, motivation, recover from burnout, set boundaries, find joy and move beyond limiting beliefs. Clients achieve tangible change in 6-9 sessions.

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