Despite our best efforts, sometimes we still get caught up in the web of toxic individuals. They use our name in vain or somehow get us tied up in whatever innocent-looking scheme they’ve got cooked up, but by the time we find out what it is, our own goose is cooked. Triangulation is the dance that bullies and toxic individual perform to provoke jealousy or animosity between other individuals, all the while playing the innocent bystander. But if you find yourself in the muck, even when you are minding your own business, you will likely find that you are caught in the middle of a very toxic triangle.
Sometimes it’s hard to predict who may be friend or foe on the job and most times the damage has been down by the time you do figure it out. But there are a few things you can take notice of right away; red flags that may give you some clues about possible toxic individuals. These red flags may appear benign, at first, but paying careful attention and keeping yourself at arms length from new coworkers (whether they are the new employee or you are) until you see how they behave towards others, can be a means of protecting yourself from future bullying or getting wrapped up in the drama of toxic individuals. Love-bombing and mirroring may seem cute, in the early stages of any relationship, but they are red flags that signal a toxic persons true intentions.
No contact is the last refuge for those of us recovering from the toxic behavior of others. When you finally figure out that trying to reason with a toxic coworker is pointless or when you notice that management has no intention of letting your workplace bully go, No Contact and Low Contact will enable you to hold on to your last shred of sanity while you bide your time looking for a new job.
Hoovering. The art of toxic individuals sucking you back into a relationship with them, even though you have ended that relationship. Just like the vacuum cleaner, they’ll come humming around, making a lot of noise about how they’ve changed; cleaned up their act, even bearing gifts. Once they’ve sucked you back in, you end up in the dustbin, and dumped on, all over, again.
If you are familiar with the story or the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” then you are very likely acquainted with the idea of flying monkeys. Put simply, flying monkeys are those people around toxic individuals who continue to support them, even when they know of or have seen how poorly the bully or toxic individual treats you or others. They are enablers, but they typically can do nothing to stop the toxic person from their behavior, instead, they are used to try to manipulate you to back down from your accusations or they pretend to be your friend, while they report your thoughts and plans back to the bully, very much like the flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz.”