“I have no idea why they yell. Every suggestion I give is met with complaints, arguments and many times tantrums. It’s almost as if once I open my mouth to say anything to them, they’re waiting to tear my words apart. Parenting teenagers is hard! Why is no one talking about this?”


Sounds familiar? You thought the twos and threes were bad. Now you’re dealing with the horrifying thirteens—and it’s even worse. When she was two, she cried, kicked, and screamed. At 13, she’s yelling, slamming doors, storming out of the house, and screaming, “You can’t control me!” Teen temper tantrums are one of the many dilemmas we face as parents.

Is there a particular thing we as parents must do to successfully engage our ever tantrum-spewing adolescent? Might there be anything, in particular, we might be doing wrong as parents that set up teenagehood to be a difficult time for us? From our wealth of research and experience, the answer is both yes and no. There are times in life when we can control certain outcomes. But in situations where outcomes cannot be controlled, being equipped with the requisite knowledge helps one to go through with minimal scarring. Such is the adolescent dilemma.

So as parents, Yes!

There are principles we need to be cognizant of to guide our relationship and communication with our teens. These skills can be learnt and perfected over time as they greatly help in successfully engaging and managing teenagers and adolescents. If we violate these principles, what we get is a serious emotional lash out from our youngsters. Unfortunately, the traditional model of parenting constantly violates these principles. It’s no wonder there are never-ending squabbles and ever-present complaints while relating to our precious adolescents. Check out our free resources here on how to transmit instructions using our unconventional parenting principles. Adolescents can be groomed with certain cultural values that are necessary to sustain a high moral code and internal moral compass using 21st-century parenting skills.

And we also say No!,

Because there is a place in the physiological wiring of the typical adolescent that makes them into very emotional beings. In a previous article, titled ADOLESCENTS; WHY THEY ACT THE WAY THEY DO, we talked in detail about the physiological wiring of your adolescent. As you are aware, hormones are greatly beyond our control and as such, it is crucial we understand the hormonal changes that go on in your adolescent’s body so as to better understand the way they view life.

One major principle to successfully engaging your adolescent is in the art of communication. Adolescents are in a transitory phase of their lives and this puts them in an emotionally and biologically unstable state. They are at a phase of life where they seek independence but traditional parenting makes it somewhat difficult for us to either accept that they are no longer our little babies who need to be ‘controlled’ but our emerging adults who need room to discover themselves. So, in communicating with your teenager or adolescent, here are simple tips on what to avoid as we believe this will make a whole lot of difference when communicating with your adolescents and will help manage the never-ending heap of teenage tantrums.

But before you start, understand that you need to take these steps when things are calm and no one is being confrontational. Don’t try this in the middle of a full-blown tantrum when you are both on edge as it will end up counter-productive.

  • Teach Your Adolescent to Earn Your Trust

During an ongoing tantrum, what you see is an adolescent who looks totally and hopelessly out of control. And your adolescent in return sees you, the parent, as so unreasonable that you’ll never give her any control over her own life. But this isn’t the case. In reality, you’d probably give her more control if you felt you could trust her to make good decisions.

When trust exists in your relationship with your teen, she has a positive influence on you. And you have confidence in her. And you’re more confident about giving her more freedom. But your teenager doesn’t realize how much influence she could have on you if only she worked to build your trust. And a tantrum doesn’t build trust.

For example, let’s say you tell your 15-year-old daughter that she can’t go to a party on Friday night because you know there won’t be any adults present. And you suspect they will be drinking. If your daughter reacts by screaming, sulking and slamming the doors, it does more than make you angry. Her poor reaction erodes your trust in her. When adolescents learn to accept “no” for an answer and not have a tantrum, it builds trust and positive influence with parents. Your adolescent needs to understand this.

You can role-play with your adolescent to teach her how to build your trust in her. Still on the party example. After your daughter calms down, you can show her a better way to respond that gives her influence. You can coach her to say:

“Mom, I’m really angry and disappointed that you’re not letting me do this. But I want you to know that even though I’m angry, I’m going to follow the rules. I hope at some point you’ll reconsider.”

When adolescents manage their emotions gracefully and honestly, it has a positive influence on parents. Also, as you teach the difference between positive and negative influence—and manage your own emotions calmly—you’re modelling the behaviour you want to see in your child.

  • Teach Your Adolescent How to Influence You

Oftentimes, when your adolescents act out, beneath the outburst is something legitimate that they crave. But the way they’re going about getting it is completely inappropriate. When I work with adolescents who act out excessively, I ask them questions like:

  • “What exactly do you want? More power to make your own decisions? More freedom?”
  • “How are you trying to make them accurately understand you without any iota of misinterpretation?”
  • “Are you getting what you truly desire?”

In most cases, the teenager will admit that it’s not working very well. Try asking your teenagers these same questions [during a calm time]. Then, you can shift the discussion into coaching mode by saying:

“Do you have any idea on how to get me to say yes to your request? Would you like me to teach you?”

Seek their opinion with genuine curiosity. Don’t attack or criticize them. Speaking to your teens this way helps them to see why their behaviour prevents them from getting what they want. It also helps with the proper development of the pre-frontal cortex. And, most importantly, you are providing them with an opportunity to learn to do better and to mature into wholesome adults.

  • Learn to Praise Them

As parents, we are constantly catching our adolescents doing something wrong. But we can also be deliberate in catching them doing something right. Let them know when they do something that builds trust with you. It makes them feel more confident in your love for them and that you see them as adults not as little children. Here’s an example. Let’s say your son wants to stay overnight at a friend’s house but you say no because you know there won’t be adult supervision. If your child respects your decision without a fight, reward him with positive praise. Say this to your child:

“I know you’re disappointed that I would not let you stay over at John’s house. But, I appreciate that you showed your disappointment politely. That shows maturity and respect.”

Here are some other examples of how teens can earn the trust of their parents:

  • Behave with integrity
  • Accept responsibility for mistakes
  • Volunteer information about everyday activities that are even seemingly mundane
  • Abide by the house rules
  • Try to do excel academically

When your teen talks to you about the details of her day—without you having to pry it out of her—tell her that you appreciate her openness. When you see her being compliant with your rules, notice it and say something. Noticing the behaviours you want to promote helps to build trust. And it reinforces the preferred behaviours.

  • Look For Pointers to Stressors

Adolescents get pretty stressed up too. Oftentimes, because we see them as children, it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that they can be stressed emotionally, socially, physically, mentally, etc. Peer pressure can take a toll on them and impact their moods. Their relationships with friends, crushes, etc can do the same. When they’re in a bad mood because of a bad day, they can end up being more irritable than usual. You know this is a normal phenomenon because it happens to you too. So, the next time your child has a tantrum, ask yourself what the tantrum is really about? Is it really about cleaning the sitting room? Or is it about some other stress in his life?


Tantrums, especially those displayed by teenagers, can be viewed as part of a normal adolescent development process. Teenagers, like us all, are works in progress. Your adolescents’ success as an adult will depend on how well they can identify and advocate for their own needs and resolve to persist when facing obstacles. It’s important to recognize that your teen is practising behaviours that, when refined, can be very useful as an adult, even if they’re currently inappropriate. That’s where emotional intelligence will help them out.


Happy International Youth Day 2022 from us all at TSAGE and TBOG Consult









What if I told you that Work-Life Balance (WLB) is an impossibly unattainable feat, a myth, would you believe me? Have you attended seminars, listened to podcasts, and read articles on work-life balance yet you see no tangible shift in the imbalance you face? You still struggle to be home before your daughter’s bedtime or miss cheering for your son at his football game. You’ve applied every technique you know yet you still bring work home and miss family time. You’re in a frustrating cycle because you’re trying to find this balance to no avail. Is work-life balance truly what we think it is?

To understand why work-life balance as we know it might never work, we must understand that for decades, the concept of work-life balance we’ve been sold is a totally flawed concept. Every time we speak about Work-Life Balance, we often think about it in terms of spending equal time at home and at work. That’s impossible! We can only speak of balance when we have elements that are equal in weight and value and on opposite sides. So, you can say 1kg of water equals 1 kg of stone but 1kg of water can never amount to 10kg of water. They must be opposite elements in comparison. Therefore, my question is simple – “are work and life opposites?”

Absolutely not! Work is a huge component of life: they’re neither opposites nor equal. Therefore, balancing the two is futile and impossible. The scale will always be lopsided and it will always cause frustrations and feelings of personal failure for anyone who attempts to do this.


So, Does This Mean That Work-Life Balance Is Impossible?

Not entirely. If you use the right parameters then it’s totally attainable. There are three parameters we use at our organization, TSAGE and TBOG Consult – Time, Attention, and Satisfaction.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of coaching career and business women from various countries, on a three-day work-life balance coaching session. The feedback was incredible. I had tested some of the principles I shared with over 1500 persons during the course of my career and having these 58 women partake in the 3-day session was a profound moment. Some of the insights I’ll share in this article are a compendium of those conversations we had. So, what are these parameters?

Parameter 1. Time:

Every time we speak about work-life balance, we measure it mostly in terms of time. That’s a mistake. Even though time is an important component of the Work-Life balance equation, it is not the only parameter used to measure WLB. Creating time for other facets of your life is the first step to finding balance in all spheres of life. But sometimes, time is not enough. Some of us work many hours coupled with traffic congestion, time might not be adequate. Does this mean WLB is impossible for such persons? Not at all. If all you use as a parameter for work-life balance is time, that’s 1 out of 3. You’ll always struggle to maintain that ‘balance’ you seek.

Time management is a skill that must be imbibed for you to thrive in this ‘balance’. Here are a few things to note about time management:

  1. Sometimes, we take on more than we can handle. In situations like these, 24 hours will never be enough to find time to rest because you’ll bring work home, forfeit vacation time, and minimize leisure hours as well. You will need to master the art of delegation. Delegation is not the same as abandonment but it is a priceless technique that not only gives you time to breathe but also empowers your team members to become leaders themselves.
  2. Sometimes, we waste the precious time that we have on activities that are not productive without even realizing it. For example, the 20 minutes you spend during work hours scrolling through Instagram does not cost you only 20 minutes. It costs more time because it takes a longer time to get your work groove on after that unintended distraction.

Here is an exercise to help you with time management. At the end of the exercise, you’ll find out that you’re either wasting time or taking too much than you can handle: https://www.tsageandtbog.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Workbook-Two.pdf

Parameter 2. Attention:

There’s an illusion we daily fall into when we think about Work-Life Balance. It’s that, those who spend time with their family or friends are living that ‘balanced’ life. This is in fact a mirage. As a Family Wellness Consultant, I’ve mediated parent-child relationships where both parents drop off their children at a school and they all come home together yet, their relationship is awkward. This is because there’s no deliberate attention and engagement. It’s possible to be home and not be present. It’s possible to be with friends and not be “present”. If this is you, then you still aren’t maintaining ‘balance’. The Workplace Executive who spends 4 hours at home daily but is very present with their spouse and children is doing a whole lot better than the worker who spends 15 hours at home without actually being present. Pay attention to all dimensions of your life.

There are 8 dimensions to pay attention to if you must thrive in this ‘balance’ you seek. They are:

  1. Physical dimension
  2. Spiritual dimension
  3. Emotional dimension
  4. Financial dimension
  5. Occupational dimension
  6. Environmental dimension
  7. Intellectual dimension
  8. Social dimension

This ebook is a story that breaks down each of these dimensions in practical terms https://www.tsageandtbog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/SILENT-TEARS-@tsageandtbog.pdf

Parameter 3. Satisfaction:

After making out TIME to ENGAGE your family and friends, the third parameter is satisfaction. How satisfied are you with your role at work and your role at home? How satisfied are you with life generally? How in tune are you with your purpose? How fulfilled are you? There’s always a measuring yardstick ingrained in your subconscious that nudges you whenever you’re slipping up on TIME and ATTENTION or when your sense of purpose is distorted, pay attention to it. The Six-Life Exercise is a tool that will help you find clarity, determine your levels of satisfaction, and help you make adjustments as required. Please listen to the video recording of a coaching class where this exercise was explained as it further buttresses some of the points raised: https://youtu.be/ykpQ87fojuo



These three parameters are your measurement yardstick every single time you think about the concept of work-life balance. Also, you need to be aware that slip-ups are bound to happen on account of our humanity. There will always be seasons where the scale is skewed and family time [or work] suffers but your consciousness of these three parameters will help you stay ingrained. The easy route will be to plunge yourself into a cycle of guilt and despondency, comparing yourself to other parents who seem to have their acts together but that’s when you should remember the AAHA principle.  Most high-performing female leaders I work with struggle with work-life balance, these tips, and principles I shared here have been a game changer for many of them. Many of them leave our sessions with clarity and a resolve to find balance the right way. It becomes easy to commit to anything whenever you’re definite that it’s not a dead end. Changing your perspective about work-life balance will really help you attain that balance you seek.





Picture source: iStock


After identifying a narcissistic colleague and putting measures in place to protect yourself from their bad energy, what do you do when the narcissism is not projected from a colleague but from your boss? This is an important conversation to have because practically everyone has either worked for a narcissistic boss or been exposed to one in some capacity therefore, the smarter you become about your narcissistic boss, the less power your boss will have.


All of the traits of narcissism listed when we spoke about the narcissistic employee holds true for the narcissistic boss. A narcissistic boss spends a tremendous amount of time thinking about achieving power, influence, and success. As a result, they tend to lie and exaggerate the truth to feel self-important. But that is not even the biggest challenge with working with these bosses. The biggest problem with having a narcissistic boss is that they never ever feel that they’re the problem. If anything, they tend to have their default scapegoats, or they may pick employees seemingly at random to be tagged with the blame when something goes wrong.


If you’re dealing with a narcissistic boss, you basically have only two choices: you either quit and get another job or you stay and deal with it. And if you choose to stay, the only way to deal is not to try to change your boss but instead to change yourself and the way you respond. You literally can take power from a narcissistic boss if you do these things:



1. Set clear boundaries.

Set a firm boundary wherever you need one and stick to it. A narcissistic boss will test your boundaries and observe how true you stay to them. Remember, boundaries aren’t meant to control others; they’re a guideline for you to know what is and isn’t acceptable. Boundaries are a part of self-care–they’re healthy, normal, and often necessary. Don’t be afraid to set clear boundaries.



2. Don’t allow them to get under your skin.

Just like bullies, narcissists thrive on getting a rise out of someone–especially someone they feel they have power over. The most painful response you can ever give a narcissist is to let them see that their attempts to goad you, shame you, call you out, embarrass you and humiliate you, did not get under your skin. Use emotional intelligence to manage your thoughts and actions. And remember that any cruel behaviour and words reflect badly on the narcissist, not you.



3. Don’t feed the beast. 

A narcissistic boss has a constant need to be admired by others. So refuse to feed that beast. It’s good to understand that bad behaviour comes from insecurity and that the more your narcissistic boss acts out, the more insecure they truly are. But it’s just as important to remember that the more you feed the bad behaviour the worse it will become. Narcissists surround themselves with only two types of people: those who enable them and those who bite their tongue. Anyone who doesn’t fit into one of these two categories will certainly be fired or banished–and, if the narcissist has their way, manipulated into thinking it was actually their own fault. Don’t fall into that trap.



4. Don’t argue.

“Everything you say can and will be used against you”, that’s something you always want to remember when dealing with a narcissist. The last thing you want to do is argue with a narcissistic boss. Don’t argue or engage but instead make them invisible–that’s the last thing a narcissist wants seeing that they thrive on attention. It’s impossible to argue with someone who’s willing to distort the truth to suit their own agenda–the best you can do is to take away their power by making them unimportant and invisible.



5. Fact-check everything.

Narcissists will always portray themselves as victims who are innocent in all aspects. They’re masters at reworking the truth to suit their agenda and their manipulative tendencies make these distorted truths seem like the actual truth. Therefore, hold the words of a narcissist with a pinch of salt until you have personally fact-checked. When the truth offends them–which is often–they’re quick to exchange it for lies and half-truths. If you’re dealing with a narcissistic boss, be ready to do a lot of checking up.



Stay focused on what’s important and do your best not to get provoked. Narcissists thrive on provoking people and then blaming them for the fight. Stay cool and disengaged and refuse to be swept up by the wave of dysfunction. It’s never going to be easy working with a narcissist. Often the wisest thing to do is just walk away–but when that’s not possible, remember that you’re at least gaining valuable experience in dealing with one of the most difficult personalities you’re ever likely to encounter.



We hope this helped you. If it did, feel free to share with your loved ones and drop a comment for us as well.


DEALING WITH A NARCISSISTIC COLLEAGUE; How to Manage Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

DEALING WITH A NARCISSISTIC COLLEAGUE; How to Manage Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

It’s almost a given that almost every office has that one person who doesn’t get along with the rest of the team.There are a variety of reasons why this may be the case. It could be that they just have different interests or in some cases, the situation is worse: the employee is just rude and unpleasant to be around. If it is the latter, perhaps this employee might have the dark triad personality traits? For this article, we will, however, focus on narcissism.



I think it’s absolutely important for you to understand what narcissistic behaviour looks like so that you can spot it quickly before you’re bent out of shape. If you don’t, you’re bound to experience a roller-coaster emotional ride when engaging such a colleague. Being connected with a narcissist is mind-bending and soul-ripping! You have to know what it is and protect yourself from it.

Here is a checklist of behaviours associated with narcissists [this is not an exhaustive list]:

  1. Gets triggered by things that most people don’t get upset by.
  2. Needs to be the centre of attention.
  3. Constantly switches conversations back to themselves.
  4. Expresses self in arrogant and superior ways.
  5. Threatened by others who are smarter or more attractive.
  6. Envious of other people’s success and pathologically jealous of who you spend time with.
  7. Needs to be the authority.
  8. Struggles to take direction from others.
  9. Demands special entitlement.
  10. Lack of compassion and consideration for others.
  11. Pathological lying.
  12. Manipulative
  13. Projects faults and blame onto others.
  14. Abusive and cruel when triggered.
  15. Switches between adoring and abhorring you.
  16. Refuses to take genuine responsibility.
  17. Unremorseful and doesn’t learn from mistakes.
  18. Makes excuses and justifications for unacceptable behaviour.
  19. Argues with defence mechanisms that make your head spin.
  20. Sabotages unity, love and peace. etc

Anyone who ticks above 15 of the traits highlighted is most likely a narcissist.


So, how do you work with a narcissist especially when you have no choice?

If you don’t already work with a narcissist, the chances of you working with a narcissist at some point in your career are very high. In fact, research has proven that narcissism is on the rise and has been for quite a while. It is sometimes possible to avoid and manage narcissism. But that isn’t always the case, especially in professional settings. The experience of working with narcissistic colleagues can be exhausting and frustrating. It’s extremely important to have realistic expectations, set appropriate limits, and manage your own emotions about the situation. Regardless of your role or industry, getting along with coworkers is undoubtedly important. You will often need to work together on various projects or when collaborating in meetings. That said, it’s crucial to learn how to deal with a narcissist because their abuse doesn’t have to affect you, no matter what the situation may be. Even though some dynamics can feel frustrating, you can improve how you cope.

The following are 10 tips on how to deal with a narcissistic coworker:

1. Don’t Take Things Too Personal: 

Narcissism has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your coworker’s personality and expectations. Sadly, you might be caught in their crossfire. The goal of the narcissist is to pin blame on others. So, when that happens, remind yourself that it’s not your fault. Additionally, taking things personally leads to more anger, impatience, and self-blame – all outcomes the narcissist anticipates you have. Don’t let him/her get to you.


2. Understand the Concept of Gaslighting:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that entails someone questioning their sense of reality. In gaslighting, a person is coerced, manipulated, scapegoated, and deliberately lied to in order to question their belief in reality. Learning about narcissistic gaslighting can help you understand a coworker’s behaviour when you feel confused or even blindsided.


3. Maintain Realistic Expectations

It’s natural to wish that your coworker could take personal responsibility or practice more compassion towards others. But holding onto unrealistic standards may trigger even more resentment. It is unrealistic because the narcissist is not compassionate by design. Instead, try to focus on accepting your coworker for who they are. That doesn’t mean you have to like or condone the behaviour. Acceptance simply means you acknowledge reality for what it is.


4. Set Firm Boundaries

If there is one thing a narcissist is good at, it is to breach boundaries and make it look like you’re excessive for wanting to enforce them. It’s important to set appropriate workplace boundaries. These boundaries can be physical, mental, and emotional. Identifying and reiterating healthy boundaries is important for your well-being. You deserve to be treated with respect, and if your coworker cannot respect that, other actions need to be taken.


5. Remain Assertive

Submissive personalities are more appealing to narcissists. This is because they want to surround themselves with people who will enable them. It is therefore imperative that you remain assertive and firm in your values and beliefs. In order to disarm the narcissist and reduce their influence over your life, you should stand up for yourself more often. Your well-being is less affected by the narcissist if you stand up for yourself.


6. Document Offensive Behaviour

Unfortunately, narcissists often get away with toxic or unethical behavior because they often have excellent performance in the workplace. However, they tend to trample others in order to succeed. It is therefore important that whenever you notice concerning behaviours, jot them down. Even if you don’t plan to do anything about it in the immediate, having that evidence may be invaluable when a more serious issue arises. Especially because narcissists are masters at twisting situations to favour them.


7. Consult With Your Boss

You should address your concerns with your boss if issues continue to occur – or if tension escalates. When describing observable problems, be objective and write down any specific incidents. You don’t want to go to your boss with speculations and abridged versions of incidents knowing that the narcissist will manipulate himself/herself out of your report and pin it on you. You must be factual and objective.  Avoid bad-mouthing your colleague; instead, focus on emphasizing the issues (rather than the personality).


8. Be Mindful of Flattery or Love Bombing

Narcissists do gravitate towards certain people they deem as special or superior so as to rub off on their fame and build some clout with their influence. If this happens to you, they might project all their perfect fantasies onto you and shower you with love and attention. You may initially find this to be extremely rewarding. But it can quickly become love bombing, however, so proceed with caution. Eventually, they will recognize that you are just a human and that inevitable disappointment may lead to immense rage against you.


9. Don’t Engage in Gossip

General rule of thumb: gossiping or badmouthing your colleagues is never a good idea. But this rule is especially critical if you suspect that you’re working with a narcissistic colleague. They may [and most likely will] use anything you say against you. They don’t stop there. They might twist even benign statements into ones that fit their sense of reality. You don’t want to give a narcissist room to do this. It’s excruciatingly painful.


10. Avoid Sharing Personal Details

Stay minimal and professional at work. Narcissists may try to befriend others for their own emotional or financial advantage. This mindset may be strongest in the workplace. Instead, try to withhold divulging about your home life, family, or personal interests. In addition, make sure that you have turned on your privacy settings on social media (narcissism aside, this is good practice for almost all workplace settings!).



It is important to remember that narcissists are sick people and cannot help themselves. So, don’t let the effects of their “sickness” rub off on you and steal your joy. Narcissistic abuse can be traumatic, and narcissistic rage can make a workplace hostile, unsafe, and downright dangerous. So, maintain your professionalism and disengage from their behaviour. And if you can’t cope, please walk away. To employers reading this article, don’t hire solely on academic qualifications. Test emotional health during the hiring process because one narcissistic employee can set your organization back by many miles. Get Workplace Emotions Consultants to sit in on your interview board to help you sift through potential toxic employees.



For quite a number of people, the workplace can be like a second home. You spend the majority of your waking hours dedicated to your work, hitting targets, and building a great career. Your co-workers and team may likely be the people you interact with the most in your life, after family or a spouse. In fact, some of your best friendships and relationships are from your workplace. In spite of the psychologically safe haven your workplace offers, we all have bad days at work -those days where things just don’t go as planned and work stalls. We have those days where we feel burnt out or just plain tired and we want to sleep in. These are normal occurrences even in the best of workplaces and in itself, that’s not a problem at all. A toxic workplace, however, is a whole new level. 

It’s impossible to be effective and feel fulfilled in a toxic workplace environment. Regardless of whether you work remotely or not, a negative work environment can affect you because toxic workplaces transcend physical walls. A positive or negative work environment is more of an emotional atmosphere that can extend beyond physical walls; an intangible quality of the workplace. Everything from your self-esteem to your personal life can be affected by the intangible qualities that classify the workplace as healthy or unhealthy. It is why it is important to identify a toxic workplace early on in order to protect yourself. I have personally worked in a toxic workplace for about two years and in those two years, my mental health deteriorated so badly that by the time I quit, I had to undergo a healing process. It is why this article is very dear to my heart. Here are seven common signs of a toxic workplace based on my experience:


1. Employee turnover rates are high:

Loyalty is one of the virtues many organizations enjoy from their employees when they take the well-being of employees into consideration. It becomes even more difficult to leave a workplace when you find fulfillment and psychological safety there. When you hear about high employee turnover rates in an organization, it’s best to put your antenna out to find out why this is so. You just might be walking into a thunderstorm.


2. You have a narcissistic boss [or colleagues]:

This is one of the most emotionally draining experiences in a toxic workplace because it is tricky to spot. Narcissistic bosses/colleagues expect that you always agree with them, tell them they’re right, and do not respect the rules. They set stringent standards and expect perfection from everyone else but themselves. While they hold others to a higher standard, they fall way below those standards they set and even go as far as justifying their actions. A narcissist loves showing everyone that he or she is in charge by wielding their power. They usually won’t be willing to lend a hand to help with tasks or give you credit for a job well done. If you feel as if your boss would expect you to come to work even if you were on your deathbed, you might be experiencing a tyrannical and toxic boss.  Run!!!


3. There’s poor communication:

Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, even more, in the workplace. A breakdown in communication is very costly. It can make you feel literally incompetent and position you for failure. Do you feel like you’re left out of the loop regarding important information? Yet, when a problem emerges from that pervasive communication, you’re blamed for it? That’s a red flag right there. A pervasive lack of communication characterizes most toxic workplaces. You may get little to no feedback about your performance, and when you do, it’s often negative and harsh — not the constructive type. Also, you may be doing the work of two, three, or four people, yet it’s not unusual for your boss or colleagues to take credit for your accomplishments. This is one easy sign to spot!


4. No growth systems in place:

Nothing is more frustrating for a career person than stagnancy. Many start-ups begin without clear-cut roles and you may sometimes find yourself managing multiple roles at a time. That’s not entirely a problem. It’s one of the advantages that start-ups bring; allowing you to have a feel of all the departments before deciding on what role suits you. However, when there are no progressive growth opportunities [after a period of time for startups], something isn’t right. Here is a litmus test. Have you approached management or HR several times regarding a lack of recognition and growth opportunities (such as promotions, raises, and challenging assignments), and have seen no changes? If you said yes, it may be time to leave.


5. You’re told to feel “Lucky You Have A Job”:

If you’ve ever heard this statement from your boss, it’s a major red flag. Your boss feels like they’re doing you a favour which isn’t the case. It’s a trade; value and time for a salary. Without you, his/her business will crumble because no entrepreneur or company can run his/her organization without help. It’s impossible. This scare tactic is a means of threatening you into staying in a marginalized position and is symptomatic of an organization that thrives on bullying behaviour and control. You’re not lucky to have a job. You have value to deliver. They’re lucky to have you as much as you’re lucky to have them. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.


6. Dysfunction is normalized:

Do meetings feel like a waste of time, inevitably devolving into disorganized chaos where nothing gets accomplished? How disjointed and inefficient are the company’s operations? Toxic workplaces are full of confusion, arbitrary deadlines, lack of focus, and a general malaise that “this is the way it’s always been done.” Colleagues forming gossip cliques is also another form of dysfunction. The experience of working in a clique-dominated office can feel like going back to high school where you feel a sense of anxiety and paranoia that your colleagues are discussing you behind your back. They turn what should be a friendly workplace competition into a hostile, dog-eat-dog situation. Rumours and gossip are always circulating around the office; misunderstandings, favouritism, and infighting are commonplace. It’s not normal, this is toxicity.


7. Sexual Harassment

A situation is considered sexual harassment when an employee, supervisor, customer, coworker, and/or manager tells inappropriate jokes, talks in lewd innuendos, or touches you inappropriately. In many toxic workplaces, sexual harassment is a major occurrence. Unfortunately, when employees are on the receiving end of this harassment, it is difficult for them to open up or talk about it because of the fear of being sacked or not believed. The importance of not downplaying or ignoring incidents of sexual harassment, however, cannot be overstated. It should be reported to your human resources department and/or the appropriate authorities. You may feel ashamed or guilty and experience complicated emotions, but remember that sexual harassment is never your fault and you have a right to be in a workplace that is free of harassment.



There are many more signs that can alert you to the prevalence of a toxic workplace culture but you must learn to rely greatly on your instincts too because not everything is black and white. There are a lot of grey areas that only you can identify. If your intuition says, “DANGER!”, trust that something is off. What other signs do you suppose characterizes a toxic workplace? What are your thoughts?