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Kathy Marshack News

How Gender Imbalance Affects Business, Politics and the Home

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


How Gender Imbalance Affects Business, Politics and the HomeWhen was the last time you saw a man patiently listen to a woman without over talking or interrupting her? It’s remarkably uncommon. And even if he listens, how open is he to her ideas? Are they readily accepted or are they dismissed as ridiculously impractical?

Even in this enlightened age, the plight of women today is appalling. Some cultures still allow men to treat them as possessions that they freely abuse and kill without any repercussions.

Much has been in the U.S. news of late about women being victims of gender inequality. The #METOO Movement and the following examples highlight some of the problems we, as women, face.

Uber director, Arianna Huffington, urged the board to increase the number of women employees, however fellow director, David Bonderman, wisecracked that would mean more talking. He soon resigned.


Senator Kamala Harris was interrupted twice during the questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Senator John McCain interrupted and chided her. Soon thereafter, Senator and Committee Chairman, Richard Burr cut her off, saying her time had elapsed.

I applaud women who bravely speak out about the abuse they experience. Having spent my life advocating for others, I know how much courage it takes.

What gender-biased behaviors need to change? Here is a sampling:

  • A woman is interrupted and talked over by a man.
  • A man claims a woman’s idea as his own, after denigrating her idea as ridiculous, when she proposed it.
  • A man totally ignores a woman’s point of view.
  • A service provider ignores a woman customer, talking only to the man with her.
  • A man gets angry and he’s rewarded, a woman gets angry and she’s vilified as hysterically incompetent or a *itch.

These are all symptoms of Empathy Dysfunction. As a woman, I was an easier target for the folks who came after me, in my own home. (You can read the details in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”) But there were a few special people who heard and believed me. Notably was one man, Ed Snook, Publisher of the US~Observer. I wouldn’t have written my book if it weren’t for him and his staff. It was the amazing work of these investigative journalists that finally convinced people to believe my story. They poured over the facts, making sure of accuracy at every turn. Without them, I might be sitting in prison. Their fearless determination to expose government corruption enabled me to reclaim my life.

If you’d like a sample chapter from my book, you can download the first chapter for free here. You’re not going to believe this really happened…but it did! When you read the entire book, you’ll learn how we can increase our ability to feel and express empathy more fully, so we no longer tolerate destructive behaviors, like gender imbalance.

15 Reasons Why Self-Compassion Is Better than Self-Confidence

Monday, April 23, 2018


While this has some merit, if you want long-term benefits, you’ll fare better cultivating self compassion. The more you develop it, the happier you’ll be. Here are 15 reasons why…“Fake it ‘til you make it.” Have you been given that bit of advice, when you weren’t feeling so confident? While it may have some short-term merit, if you want long-term benefits, you’ll do better with cultivating self compassion.

When you’re self-confident, you may start believing your own hubris, until it turns into overconfidence, which can lead to terrible life choices and decisions. Self-compassion, on the other hand, doesn’t have a downside. The more you develop it, the happier you’ll be. Here are 15 reasons why self-compassion is better:

  1. Self-compassion encourages you to acknowledge your flaws and limitations.
  2. Self-compassion allows you to see yourself more objectively.
  3. Self-compassion keeps it real; you don’t have to fake it or pretend.
  4. Self-compassion makes feedback easier to take, because you know you’re not perfect, and you don’t have to be.
  5. Self-compassion makes you more accepting of yourself and others – you don’t need to play the blame game any more.
  6. Self-compassion makes self-forgiveness possible, so you can quit ruminating about negative things.
  7. Self-compassion makes you more open to learning and improving, because you know you don’t know everything. 
  8. Self-compassion allows you to hear the critic in your head and treat it as a friend who is trying to keep you safe.
  9. Self-compassion makes it easier to empathize with others.
  10. Self-compassion makes you less critical, because you focus on the positive.
  11. Self-compassion makes you more caring and supportive.
  12. Self-compassion allows you to treat yourself with the same kindness you show a loved one.
  13. Self-compassion allows you to be patient with yourself, as you strive to do better.
  14. Self-compassion makes you more resilient.
  15. Self-compassion helps you be more tolerant of yourself and others.

Of all these benefits, I think fine-tuning your empathy is the most remarkable benefit of all. The average person has abundant empathy, and they’re EmD-4 on my EmD scale. (Learn more about this scale in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS”) Because of their heightened sensitivity to others, Em-D-4s respond with care, tenderness, and nurturing—sometimes too much. Setting and keeping boundaries is not easy for many them. They react as if another person’s suffering is something they should personally take on and fix.

Those who develop Radiant Empathy (EmD-5 – the highest level of empathy) become more resilient. They don’t make codependent-style mistakes, because they’re good at reading others’ intentions and feelings while, at the same time, holding constant an awareness of themselves as separate from others. EmD-5s can detach from the games others play yet keep constant in their love—for themselves—and others. What a wonderful byproduct of self-compassion.

If you want to stay up-to-date on the best ways to increase your empathy and become an EmD-5, please sign up for my Enriching Your Life newsletter. It’s delivered to your inbox twice a month. You’re going to love it!

Is It Possible You’re Being Too Nice?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Today the word “nice” means “pleasant and agreeable”, “respectable”. But did you know it first meant “foolish” or “stupid”? Is there ever a time when being nice is a foolish thing? Can you be too nice? Actually, yes. It happens when a person goes overboard, is too sensitive, becoming hyper-empathic.Today the word “nice” has the meaning of “pleasant and agreeable”, and “respectable”. But did you know it first meant “foolish” or “stupid”? Is there ever a time when being nice is a foolish thing? Actually, yes.

Please don’t misunderstand. There’s a place for niceness. It’s good to be nice and open the door for a disabled person. Or to diffuse your partner’s frustration by being nice and speaking calmly.

But what if someone is being abusive or manipulative towards you? Should you grit your teeth and stand there taking it, because you want to be nice? Not at all. You don’t have to be rude, but you don’t have to, nor should you, put up with it.

Being kind, nice, and compassionate are all degrees of being empathic. Empathy is what holds human society together, because we look out for each other. But there are times when being nice and empathic can go horribly wrong.

In attempts to help others, a person can go overboard and be too sensitive, even becoming hyper-empathic. Another term for this is “pathological altruism.” That’s when people, with the best of intentions, cause harm because they’re blind to the potential consequences of their actions.

For example: What if your husband regularly cheats on you, “because he was abused as a child?” You love him and sympathize with his horrible childhood. You don’t want to add to his suffering, so you’re nice, turning a blind eye, pretending the infidelity isn’t happening.

A better way to handle this situation is to think of the long-term consequences. Is being nice going to improve your relationship? Is it going to make you feel cherished? What message is it sending to your children? Is being “empathetic” going to help him recover from his childhood trauma? Are you holding him accountable for his actions?

Another example: Your sister has just been diagnosed with diabetes. She’s overweight and has a terrible sweet tooth. You know she loves Whoppers, and you want to give her a special treat. Are you going to be nice and sympathize with her desire for candy? Is that really what’s best for her?

Always being “nice” can also make you more vulnerable to exploitation by manipulative people. Narcissists and psychopaths prey on empathic and altruistic individuals. (You can learn more about this in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”) So the next time you’re tempted to be nice, take a moment to think about the consequences and make sure it won’t harm either yourself or others.

Radiant empathy has clear boundaries, because it’s governed by the good of self and others. Those with the greatest empathy, EmD-5s can detach from the games others play yet keep constant in their love—for themselves—and others. They hold dear the thoughts and feelings of others while staying true to themselves.

Would you like to explore how you can increase your empathic skills? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

How to Protect Yourself from the Epidemic of Fake News

Monday, April 09, 2018


It’s human nature to love gossip, the juicier the better. And technology makes it so easy. So we’re assaulted daily with new revelations about how vulnerable we are to hacking, disinformation, and fake news. But we don’t have to be a victim. We can make a difference, by carefully choosing what repeatEvery day Tweets, Facebook posts, fake news reports, and cyber attacks spread lies that are widely believed. It’s human nature to love gossip, the juicier the better. And technology makes it so easy to share it, before we know if it’s true or not.

Researchers are studying how fake news affects us and why humans fall for it. A NYTimes article shared a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They examined the flow of Twitter stories and found that people prefer false news across the board – from politics and urban legends, to business, science and technology.

Here are some highlights from the article:

  • “False claims, versus true ones, were 70% more likely to be shared on Twitter.
  • True stories are rarely retweeted by more than 1,000 people.
  • The top 1% of false stories is routinely shared by 1,000 to 100,000 people.
  • It takes true stories about six times longer to reach 1,500 people.”

We are assaulted daily with new revelations about how vulnerable we are to hacking, disinformation, and fake news. Sure, cyber espionage has been going on awhile, but it’s become far easier for the average person to use it to evil ends. A savvy social media user—especially one with a grudge—can ignite a vicious firestorm of slander, bullying, overt and covert threats, and online stalking.

I experienced this personally. For more than a decade, I endured many cyber attacks from my Vancouver neighbors and public officials, as well as, people who tried to stop me from writing books on Autism.

For example, the libelous scroll-like poster you see to the right was put up by my Steamboat Landing neighbors during their reign of harassment. It read,

“SBL Homeowners —Kathy Marshack, who lives east of this community, is not permitted on SBL property at any time. A restraining order has been filed on 7/6/06. If you see Ms. Marshack in SBL, do not approach her! Immediately call the Police.”

Neighbors downloaded my photo from my website then added it to a defaming poster at the front gate of their private riverfront community. The information on the poster is false. There was no restraining order. It was the opposite: I had a court order barring them from publicly discriminating against me. My neighbors came after me anyway, costing me thousands of dollars in attorney fees plus untold damage to my reputation.

It happened because I stood in the way of influential people who wanted to develop property along the Columbia River, at the expense of community safety, by trying to skimp on proper train crossing guard gates.

Could something like this happen to you? Without a doubt. Defending yourself from these invisible and hard-to-trace onslaughts is tough. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.” I share what I learned and how I survived this and other cyber attacks. If I can do it, so can you.

Remember: Lies only become powerful, when we listen to them, believe them and repeat them. We have the responsibility to check out the truthfulness of a story before we share it. We can make a difference.

Confused? Learn the Differences between Sensitivity and Empathy

Monday, March 26, 2018


. If you confuse sensitivity for empathy, you’re not alone. I’ve discovered that both neurotypicals and Aspies have trouble understanding the differences between sensitivity and empathy“He’s a really sensitive guy.” “She’s such an empathetic person.” You may think these statements describe the same characteristic. If you confuse sensitivity for empathy, you’re not alone. In my practice, I’ve discovered that both neurotypicals and Aspies have trouble understanding the differences. For example, how would you answer these questions?

  • Is it sensitivity or empathy to cry at the sight of an injured pet?
  • Is it sensitivity or empathy to feel comforted by an embrace?

Would you be surprised to learn that neither instance is empathy? To produce empathy a person needs an integrated symphony of neurology, traits and skills. Here’s how I define empathy in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you”:

"Empathy is a dynamic, evolving process—not a human trait. From empathy comes the ability to hold dear the feelings and thoughts of others.
Those with highly-evolved empathy skills do not confuse the psychological boundaries between themselves and others. They can care, feel compassion and sympathize without taking on the responsibility for another person’s intentions or feelings. This distinction is critical. Empathy is respectfully allowing the other person to take responsibility for their life. (In AA and other 12-step programs, the ability to do this is called detachment.)
A symphony may best represent the dynamics of humans empathizing. A great composer creates a musical score that allows for the best use and sound of each instrument, while staying faithful to the melody and the meaning of the piece. Sometimes we hear a solo. Other times we embrace the resonance of the horn section or the rumble of the tympani. Often the room is filled with what sounds like a thousand string instruments. We may feel thrilled, calmed, or seduced by the music.

A symphony is not complete without the audience, which provides energy to the musicians. Have you noticed how much more alive a performance is when the audience emotionally joins with the orchestra? Empathy is like this, too. It is far more than the sum of its parts. It is the sense that everyone in the room is breathing the music. So, too, empathy creates a powerful oneness that lets us know we are not alone.”

Would you like to improve your ability to tell the difference between empathy and sensitivity? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to attend the one of the upcoming Video Conferences entitled “Sensitivity is Not Empathy.” They will be held on three different days: Thursday, April 5th, Wednesday, April 11th, and Wednesday, April 25th. Spaces are very limited, so grab your spot early.

If you haven’t heard yet, I’m pleased to tell you that my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” can now be purchased on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. I urge you to get a copy today. Its down-to-earth advice will teach you to protect yourself from those with Empathy Dysfunction. After you read it, please add your review on Amazon. I’d love to know what you think about it.

My Book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you” is Available!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying youWhat do these all have in common…narcissists, sociopaths, addicts, brain injured, autistics, a vengeful ex, corrupt city officials and greedy neighbors, bullies, stalkers, fake news mongers? Some people are upset that I include autistics and the brain injured in the same list as sociopaths and narcissists. But I do so only because they all lack some level of empathy. I ought to know. I’ve endured a 12-year perfect storm of a high conflict divorce, lawsuits, assaults, cyberstalking, false arrests, predatory prosecution, and the loss of my daughters to parental alienation. Throughout all these experiences I’ve noticed a common theme, namely people with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD).

The increasing prevalence of Empathy Dysfunction helps explain societal and family decay today. On the other hand, empathic acts are the stitches that hold the fabric of all relationships together. As neuroscientists map the human brain, we see the numerous connections that must be made to activate empathy. It’s a complex system that requires the brain to connect Emotional Empathy and Cognitive Empathy, and multiple transitions between the two. If one part of this amazingly intricate and complicated connection of circuits doesn’t work correctly, the system malfunctions. When the brain is damaged, whether through a war or sports injury, substance abuse, or congenital brain disorder, Empathy Dysfunction occurs. Empathy Dysfunction is so prevalent it's no longer if you meet someone with EmD, but when...

Have you ever...

  • Been victimized, swindled or lied to by your best friend?
  • Loaned money to loved ones who squandered the gift and never paid you back?
  • Had to fight unscrupulous prosecutors for your freedom?
  • Been forced to defend yourself from your vengeful ex or your ungrateful children?
  • Bumped into a beguiling, but shifty, stranger?
  • Felt someone following you?

If so, you've crossed paths with someone operating with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” helps you not only understand why this is happening, but how to protect yourself from those hell-bent on destroying you. 

What will you find inside “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS”?

  • Hard-learned lessons on how to stand up for yourself when dealing with people who literally couldn’t care less about you.
  • A way to identify those with a dysfunctional lack of empathy using the new Empathy Dysfunction Scale (EmD Scale), so you can shield yourself from the destruction they leave in their wake.
  • Clues you should never ignore for your own safety - like a rotten neighbor, friends who start believing the nasty gossip spread by your ex-partner, or a nagging feeling you're being watched. Pay attention, it may be because "they" really are out to get you.
  • Warrior training to protect yourself from dangerous people. If you've been hurt just once, or maybe too many times to count by a person with EmD, apply the warrior training in this book, increase your own empathy to a higher level, and reclaim the beautiful life you are meant to live.
  • Seven life-preserving tips that will protect you and enhance your own level of empathy.

The truth is, sometimes, people are out to get you: Be prepared. Use “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS” to help you navigate the unruly world of Empathy Dysfunction. If you haven’t done so already, please download a free sample chapter. I’m pleased to announce that you can now order the entire book on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. And after reading it, please be sure to go back to Amazon and leave a review. I’d appreciate it!

Never Give Up Hope On Your Estranged Family Relationships

Monday, March 12, 2018


Never give up home on your estranged family relationshipsToday I’m addressing a very, very painful subject…that of family estrangement. We’ve all heard the sayings: “Blood is thicker than water.” “Family comes first.” “No matter what you do, I’ll always love you.” Family is precious. It makes us feel accepted and loved for who you are, without reservation. It’s the mainstay of civilization. When the family unit breaks down, civilizations actually crumble. History proves that, i.e. the Roman Empire.

However, the state of the American family today is not good. Life isn’t like the Norman Rockwell pictures of generations ago. Of course, it wasn’t perfect then, but family cohesiveness is eroding. People aren’t just drifting apart. They are purposely estranging themselves from other family members. A recent NYTimes article addresses this topic. It generated a huge storm of comments; mine included.

There is nothing more emotionally devastating than being estranged from a family member, especially your own child. It can be worse than experiencing their death, because there’s a personal rejecting attached to it. It’s always nagging you in the back of your mind. The hurt never goes away.

The NYTimes article seemed to me to be very one-sided. It focused on children who felt they needed to cut off their “bad” parents. In my personal and professional life, I’ve seen the other side of the coin all too often. I’ve personally felt the heartache of children with emotional and mental disorders who foolishly cut off the very parents who support them. I’ve written in great depth about this phenomenon in my book, WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.

For example, my autistic daughter cut me off 12 years ago because she was the victim of parental alienation by my ex. Another daughter, alcoholic and suffering from TBI also cut me off right after assaulting me and knocking me into a plate glass door. It’s naive and narrow-minded to write of estrangement from only the estranged child’s point of view. There are lots of factors. But as for me, I have never cut off my children and never will. With each passing year, I hope to hear from them, even though they shred my letters and block my calls.

Some of those commenting on this article say that holding onto hope makes it more painful. I believe that hope keeps us going. Of course, it would be naïve to put your life on hold as you hope. That’s not true hope, that’s fantasizing about an outcome you’re attached to. As I often counsel couples, hope for the best but plan for the worst. That keeps your eyes wide open and in the proactive place of fixing problems before they escalate.

When estrangement occurs, hope, based on agape love, allows you to wish them the best in their lives as you continue to grow and find peace in your own. It’s not about changing them. It’s about your own approach to life, choosing to be positive and happy despite the circumstances. As you move on and continue to give to others, their love and appreciation soothes your hurt emotions. Perhaps somewhere down the road the two lines of estrangement will once again intersect, and you’ll be able to build a new relationship. That is my hope for all those estranged in the world today.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of my book, WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you, please take advantage of this free download. After you read it, I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.


People with Severe Empathy Dysfunction Don’t Have Close Friends – Why Is That?

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


Most of us crave friendships where we can spend time with people who will share thoughts and feelings back and forth. Jim Rohn famously said, “We’re the average of the five people you spent the most time with.” This illustrates the fact that we are greatly influenced by our friendships, which can be a good thing if we choose our friends wisely. But what happens to a person with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD) who doesn’t have any friends?

They’re left battling the world alone. Not only does it make their life harder. It makes the lives of those they come in contact with harder too. Here are some of the traits of a person with EmD…


  • They have little or no talent for generosity.

  • They haven’t learned to see the world through another’s eyes.

  • They have mercurial moods and give into whims at the drop of the hat.

  • Narcissism and paranoia are rampant.

  • What they call “friends” are just people they tolerate or use when convenient.

  • They can’t tolerate rivalry or anything that challenges their position.

  • They’re suspicious and vain.

  • Compassion and compromise aren’t in their dictionaries.

  • There is no give. It’s always on their terms.

I know it goes against everything we’ve been taught about manners to call people out. You might even think I’m being mean. However, it’s imperative that everyone becomes aware of the growing number of brain disorders that contribute to Empathy Dysfunction. EmD is so common, in fact, it’s no longer if, but when, you will meet someone with EmD.

High IQ, artistically gifted, natural athletic ability, or psychological diagnosis as healthy—none of these characteristics exempt people from having Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). It’s my belief that once you understand how empathy works and how it can become dysfunctional, you’ll have a better handle on navigating life.

Protecting yourself from EmDs requires two vital skills. First, as soon as you suspect or identify EmD in a person, disengage as soon as you can. Second, cultivate your own empathy, so that you operate at the highest level, EmD-5.

I’ll show you how to protect yourself and cultivate greater empathy in my book, When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you. The first chapter, “No One Calls Me Mom Anymore” is now available for free download. After you read it, I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.

The Heartbreaking Link Between CTE and Empathy Dysfunction

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Link between CTE and Empathy DysfunctionI have read countless stories of professional, college and even high school athletes struck down by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Athletes in all contact sports—football, hockey, soccer, and baseball—are being diagnosed with CTE. But a new article still caught my eye on CNN - Former NFLers call for end to tackle football for kids.

Several former NFL players are working with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to support a new initiative, Flag Football Under 14, that pushes for no tackle football until 14. In the article, one player, who has been diagnosed with dementia and probable CTE, made a heartfelt plea to parents, “I beg of you, all parents to please don't let your children play football until high school. I made the mistake starting tackle football at 9 years old. Now, CTE has taken my life away. Youth tackle football is all risk with no reward."

The article went on to discuss something that many people misunderstand when it comes to CTE. People are under the impression that concussions are what lead to the disorder. However, CTE is actually much more likely to be found in soccer players and other athletes exposed to repetitive minor hits. Instead of pointing specifically to “concussion” as the cause, this is called Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (or Mild TBI). As if there is anything mild about CTE.

Since I’ve been writing my new book on empathy dysfunction, I found research studies on empathy disorders and mild traumatic head injuries that made the connection between TBI and loss of empathy quite clear. It makes sense since the circuits responsible for empathy are a complex system located throughout the brain.

I went through this with my own daughter who played soccer. At 23 she assaulted me, knocking me across the room into a plate glass door. I believe that brain trauma explains the mood swings, the paranoia, and the assaultive behavior.

I don’t want any other parent to have to stand by and see their child suffer from traumatic brain injury. Do your research before putting your child in a sport that could have long-term negative consequences. Some worse than you could ever have imagined!

Are you wondering whether you’re dealing with a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor with severe empathy dysfunction? My upcoming book, “When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” delves into Empathy Disorders and offers advice on how you can protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. You can read the first chapter here.

Work with Toxic People? Here's How to Cope

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


If you work with a toxic person, someone who is abusive, controlling, or try to cause you harm, find out how to cope with their behavior and what steps you can take to minimize their bullying.Do you have any toxic people in your life? People who are abusive, controlling, or try to cause you harm? Generally, you can get rid of this negativity by cutting toxic friends, family members, and acquaintances out of your life or at least drastically reducing contact with them.

But when you work with toxic people, the solution to your problem isn’t that easy. You have to work with them whether you want to or not. So how can you cope?

Here are some ways to protect yourself from a toxic workmate:

  • Assess if the person truly is toxic. Are they abusive or just difficult? Are they absorbed in themselves to the detriment of others, or are they just overcompensating? It’s worth considering because sometimes people who are not truly toxic can be won over by kindness and compassion and become less difficult. Behind their annoying behaviors, there may be feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, or a longing for attention and personal connections.

  • Don’t take to heart what toxic people say to you or about you. Words can hurt, especially when we’re barraged with subtle digs all day long. It's easy to withdraw into yourself, feeling hurt and rejected. Then you replay, rehash, and relive the experience over and over again. Don’t do that. Don’t absorb what toxic people say and let it reach you emotionally. Stay calm and rational. Doing so will help you diffuse the situation, rather than providing the bully with the reaction they hoped for.

  • Improve your emotional intelligence (EQ). This may sound counterintuitive because the toxic person should be the one working on their EQ! But really, people with a high EQ can neutralize the effect of toxic people. They stay aware of their emotions and remain calm and objective. They establish clear boundaries and decide when they have to put up with a toxic person and when they don’t. They can keep an emotional distance from the person without becoming cold and uncaring. People with a high EQ also understand that holding a grudge doesn’t do them any good, so they have an easier time letting things go that bring them stress.

  • Continue to do your best work. Rudeness in the workplace is known to stifle creativity, problem-solving, and efficiency. Counteract the inclination to lay low at work by continuing to put your best foot forward. In addition to helping you be your best self, this also casts doubt on any negative things your toxic workmate says about you.

  • Keep your interactions with the toxic person to a minimum. Engage with them as little as possible, and they may move on to someone or something else. Speak in a neutral voice. Keep your responses short and unemotional. Stay on topics that are boring or inconsequential. Don’t engage when they taunt you or make eye contact. Avoid sharing personal information with them and don’t ask them anything personal. Make yourself seem as uninterested in them and as uninteresting to them as possible.

  • Document everything.
    Make sure to keep a record of toxic behavior. Write down what happened, when it happened, who witnessed it, etc. Keep emails, notes, and even voicemails. If things reach a point a point where you need to bring the problem to the attention of your employer, Human Resources, or beyond, this ensures you have the necessary information to make your case.

  • Focus on yourself. You can be happy if you keep your focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You can’t control your workmate or make them change their personality. But you can continue to work becoming the best possible version of yourself. And remember, sometimes they healthiest choice is to walk away. You can work elsewhere!

Toxic people in the workplace often have severe Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). This is characterized by an “all-about-me” attitude and is manifested in thoughtless, self-absorbed behavior. The result is contemptible harm to those around them. My upcoming book, “When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” delves into Empathy Disorders and offers advice on how you can protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. You can read the first chapter here.

Are you in a position of leadership and see signs of toxic behavior in your business? Or are you on the receiving end of this type of demoralizing behavior and want it to stop? Many have found that consulting with a trained therapist and business coach has helped them find positive solutions. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment or take advantage of online therapy.


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