Toxic positivity refers to the societal pressure to maintain a positive attitude and outlook at all times, even in the face of difficult or negative situations. It can be seen as a form of emotional suppression that denies individuals the opportunity to express negative emotions and work through them. While positivity can be helpful in promoting resilience and coping with stress, toxic positivity can have negative effects on individuals and organizations.
In the workplace, toxic positivity can manifest as a culture that values positivity over authenticity and transparency. Employees may feel pressure to hide their true feelings and emotions in order to fit into the positive culture. This can lead to a lack of communication and trust among team members, as well as a lack of empathy and understanding for those who are struggling.
Toxic positivity can have a significant impact on psychological safety in the workplace. Psychological safety refers to the sense of trust and mutual respect that employees feel within their work environment, allowing them to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns without fear of retaliation or negative consequences. When toxic positivity is present, it can create a culture that values positivity over authenticity and may lead to a lack of psychological safety.
Employees may feel pressured to maintain a positive outlook at all times, even when faced with difficult situations or negative emotions. This pressure can lead to employees feeling like they cannot express their true feelings, concerns, or ideas. This, in turn, can create a culture of fear, where employees feel like they are unable to voice their concerns without fear of retribution or retaliation. This lack of psychological safety can have significant consequences for an organization, including decreased productivity, increased turnover, and a loss of innovation and creativity.
Toxic positivity can also create unrealistic expectations and set employees up for failure. When the focus is solely on positivity, employees may feel pressured to always have a positive attitude, even when faced with challenges that are outside of their control. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy when they are unable to maintain a positive outlook.
Furthermore, toxic positivity can create a culture that is dismissive of legitimate concerns and issues. When positivity is valued above all else, negative feedback or criticism may be ignored or brushed aside, rather than addressed and resolved. This can lead to a lack of accountability and a failure to address problems, which can ultimately harm the organization.