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The Problem With Calling People ‘Toxic’

The Problem With Calling People ‘Toxic’


“As a workplace mediator and conflict coach my professional life is spent encouraging people to resolve issues and, at times, this also restores relationships.” says mediator and founder of Mosaic Mediation Emma Jenkings.

By labeling people as ‘toxic’ we risk seeing them as only one, stationary thing. Have you ever seen it this way?

What makes someone a ‘toxic person’?

‘Toxic People.’

This term seems to be used a lot now and there are many memes around referring to ‘removing toxic people from your life’.

I get the message: why have people around you that are causing you harm? However, this phrase suggests more than that, unfortunately. Labelling a person as ‘toxic’ is a description of who you see them to be – the toxicity makes up who they are. In effect, labelling them this way infers that they are stuck that way.

Then comes the socially accepted push to ‘remove’ said people from your life. Which, if you do believe that people are stuck in their toxicity, makes total sense. But what if that is not how people work?

What if seeing people as fixed in that state does more harm than good?

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