the Toxic Dumper
By Francie Dalton
you’re sitting at your desk, working productively – when, as has
already happened to you numerous times this week, in comes the Toxic
Dumper. Flopping down into
a chair with a heavy sigh of exasperation, they proceed to commandeer
your time, using you as a dumping ground for complaints of all types.
generous and assume that you have only one toxic dumper, who wastes
only 10 minutes of your time per day. That
adds up to an entire week per year! [10
minutes per day multiplied by 240 work days per year =
2400 minutes = 40 hours!] And
keep in mind that from an organizational perspective, since the
“dumping” activity involves at least two parties, it really wastes
2 weeks per year.
you act to eliminate the toxic dumper from your life?
Five reasons: First, you’re reputed to be like those with
whom you are in frequent company. Do you really want to be known as
someone who meets often with the worst mal-contents in the office? Second,
we become like those with whom we’re in frequent company. We
shouldn’t kid ourselves; as
tough as we may think we are, the constant complainers in our lives do
have a negative impact on us. They
rob our joy, erode our serenity, and creep into our subconscious with
negative chatter. Third,
your productivity takes a hit as a result of granting air time to your
toxic dumper; can you
really afford that opportunity cost?
Fourth, believe it or not, others are aware when the toxic
dumper is being thwarted. Taking
steps to de-activate the toxic dumper doesn’t escape notice;
instead it ushers into your immediate work environment a higher
level of behavioral expectations.
and sets you apart from those who aren’t willing to take
action. Finally, and quite
simply, you’ll save an astonishing amount of time!
the toxic dumper is achieved differently depending upon their
hierarchical position relative to you.
Find the category below that best fits your situation, and
consider which of the tips provided would help you nuke your toxic
If the toxic dumper is your
The moment you notice this toxic dumper headed
your way, stand up and start gathering your things as though
you’re heading off to a meeting.
As the person enters your office, look up and smile, saying
“I’m almost late for a meeting;
we’ll have to catch up later.
How about lunch tomorrow?”
This next idea works well if the buttons of your
phone are not visible to entrants. When you
see this toxic dumper coming, look at your phone and say:
“Sure I’ll be happy to hold”.
As the dumper enters your office, say:
“I’m on hold – we’ll have to talk later.
How about lunch tomorrow?
As the dumper enters your office, simply say:
“I’m on an impossible deadline for an urgent project
for my boss. Can we
talk later? How about
The good news is that these three
approaches don’t require you to confront the issue directly.
Instead, you can skirt the actual issue, while simultaneously
establishing a pattern of busyness that may be adequate to dissuade further similar
most importantly, these tips begin to set the expectation that such
interactions be limited to lunchtime.
Remember: you’ll need to
follow-up on that offer for lunch!
If the toxic dumper is your
If your peer dumper is a friend, or if you’re
uncomfortable with confrontation, one of these two fairly
benevolent approaches may be helpful: (a) “You know, you’ve
been struggling with this issue for a long time.
How about if you take the issue up with the relevant
parties and talk it out with them; or
(b) “I empathize with your issues, but talking with you
about them during work hours is causing me to get behind in my
work. Could we take
these conversations off-line? I’d
be happy to meet you for breakfast or lunch…”
If you’d rather play hard-ball with your peer
dumper, consider some variation of the following:
(a) “You know, at your level you really need to be
identifying solutions to problems – not just talking about them.
Why not figure out how to solve the problem, and then go
implement that solution, instead of complaining to me about it?”
Or, even harder
ball: “Look –
it’s not that I don’t like you – it’s just that I can’t
afford and frankly don’t want to spend time giving succor to
your complaints. If
you wanted help solving problems, that’s one thing;
I’d be willing to carve out time to be helpful.
But you seem only to want to complain – and I’m just
not up for that.”
toxic dumper is your subordinate:
Require that your subordinate identify at least
two possible solutions to every problem
before bringing the problem
Use the Socratic method.
When your subordinate complains about something, don’t
respond with advice or solutions. Instead, ask the specific,
successive questions that lead your subordinate through the
reasoning process, revealing what you already know to be the
volume of work for which most of us are responsible, we simply must
be willing to issue “cease and desist” orders to our toxic
dumpers! Using the tips
provided in this article should get you off to a good start!
Read other articles and learn more
about Francie Dalton.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and