As I was researching on the web, looking for ideas to improve a client’s toxic environment at work, I happened on the Mind Fit web site which used the term “Behavioural Waste.” I chuckled at the concept and thought: how clever.

The article on Mind Fit describes many time management and productivity practices that cause behavioral waste but I would like to focus on the excessive mental and emotional behavioral waste that weighs workers down like an overstuffed suitcase at the airport.

As defined by Mind Fit, Behavioral Waste is anything “that diverts energy, talent and resources away from the personal or the organizational purpose.”

Mental and emotional baggage fits in this description. Individuals and team members who don’t know how to clear the frustrations of the day, or empty their behavioral waste every day, divert energy and resources away from company objectives and project deadlines, thus decreasing productivity and contributing to a toxic environment.

Here are three examples:

  • If frustrations over misunderstandings are not openly discussed, the air between team members, whether on the same floor, different floors or working remotely, is thick with silence that could be cut with a knife.
  • When human errors are severely punished, resentment sends the worker into denial and perhaps retaliation.
  • When inappropriate jokes are left unchallenged, the person on the other end of the joke usually retreats into a shell much like a turtle.

In each situation, energy goes into defending egos and working to rebuild self-esteem and not into working through problems and finishing tasks.

I guarantee you that no work day will ever be free of some type emotional baggage or behavioral waste because we as humans are subject to hurt feelings, a belief that some meant to slight us or leave us out of the latest gossip, or didn’t listen to your idea before they you off.

As a team, it is important to empty the emotional garbage or behavioral waste on a daily basis. To do this, work to revisit a conversation that ended poorly whether that was in person or via Instant Message or email. Work to clarify and see each other’s viewpoint. Listen with real intent and find something you can agree with.

As an individual, it is important to ‘take out the garbage’ at the end of your working day. Gather together in your mind all of the hurts, all of the things that made you feel wounded, all of the perceived and real injustices and inequities, and deposit them in the garbage can. Forgive the perpetrators. You will be free to enjoy your personal life and can wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, not angry.

Taking out the garbage every day leaves gives you the ability to start each day with fresh perspectives, new vistas, and reduced emotional baggage to carry around.

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This article was written by Karla Brandau, CEO of Workplace Power Institute and Registered Corporate Coach. Karla is available for keynotes and training sessions on improving team work and communication skills. Visit www.karlabrandau.com

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