You're sitting at your desk, working productively, when in comes the Toxic Dumper … for the fifth time this week!
Flopping into a chair with a heavy sigh, she proceeds to commandeer your time, using you as a dumping ground for her complaints.
Toxic dumpers strike at workplaces all over the world, says communication consultant Francie Dalton, president of Dalton Alliances Inc. But smart professionals fend off toxic dumpers before they threaten your job, says Dalton.
If the toxic dumper is a peer or friend, Dalton recommends taking these tacks:
“You’ve been struggling with this issue for a long time. You should take the issue up with the relevant parties and talk it out with them.”
“I empathize with your issues, but talking with you about them during work hours is causing me to fall behind in my work. Could we take these conversations off-line? I’d be happy to meet you for breakfast or lunch.”
“You know, at your level you really need to be identifying solutions, not just talking about the problems. Why not figure out how to solve the problem, and then implement that solution, instead of complaining to me about it?”
If the toxic dumper is your subordinate, manage it this way:
Ask the dumper to identify at least two possible solutions to every problem before coming to you.
Use the Socratic method. Instead of responding to the dumper with advice or solutions, ask specific, successive questions that lead him or her through the reasoning process.
What’s the best part about stopping a toxic dumper? You’ll regain a lot of time.