When working in or managing a PSAP one of the biggest challenges is always seeking the truth when someone wants to instigate an issue. While most individuals in the workplace are eager to form comfortable, and mutually respectful relationships, others seem more eager to stir up trouble and create conflict.
If your PSAP is home to an instigator, the way in which you handle this individual could prove very important to ensure you are not falling victim to their antics. If you mishandle your interactions with this person, you will likely find that he/she is successful in their attempts to create conflict. If, on the other hand, you tackle their attempts at upset effectively you can likely thwart their efforts.
Here are eight ways to handle instigators in your PSAP:
1. Identify the problem
It shouldn't be too hard to spot an instigator or a "toxic" coworker/employee. This person can exhibit behaviors such as back-stabbing, gossiping, meddling in affairs, manipulating situations, or just being nasty and spiteful in their demeanor or interactions.
Chances are if you've ever encountered a toxic person you immediately sensed their toxicity...even if you didn't call it that.
2. Assess the behavior
As the saying goes, "actions speak louder than words." Watch the behavior and listen to the language of your coworkers. When someone leaves the room, who initially starts gossiping about them? Likely, this is the same behavior that is exhibited when you take a break or step out of the room. Be mindful.
3. Take effective action
Once you're fully aware of an instigator or a toxic coworker's behavior you can decide whether or not to accept it or address it.
When you have to interact with a toxic coworker, keep your conversation strictly business. Be polite and cordial, not overly friendly. Don't share with them your personal business and don't allow them to tell you theirs. When coworkers attempt to spread gossip, change the subject, or get curious and ask fact seeking questions.
When you show no interest in a toxic coworkers shenanigans and refuse to feed into their pathology, they will soon lose interest.
4. Don't let the problem fester
When dealing with an instigator take action with that individual swiftly. If you choose to avoid conflict don't be surprised if the behavior allowed becomes the standard on your team or in your PSAP. Avoidance will eventually lead to anger and your efforts to address the situation could become irrational. It's far better to tackle a problem early on than it is to let your emotions build and explode.
5. Safeguard your reputation
Avoid engaging in the behaviors toxic people exhibit. If you find yourself unconsciously engaging in such behaviors and you are unable to stop doing so on your own, invest in some relevant self-help resources and/or seek the assistance of a friend or counselor.
In short, don't become the very thing in which you despise by getting caught up in unproductive conversations or misbehaviors. If you experience an issue with a coworker you need to address the issue head-on with that coworker.
6. Don't sink to their level
As problematic as an instigator or toxic coworker may be, there are many dysfunctional approaches to dealing with them. Here are a few no-no's: sending anonymous notes, globally addressing the issue vs having one-on-one meetings, gossiping about the person, bad-mouthing him or her to others, mistreating the person or rotating them to other shifts/squads.
7. Agree to disagree
Let's face it, not every person you work with is a fan. If you personally dislike a coworker, supervisor or boss, you can still learn from their opinions, viewpoints, and ideas. If you can find something to appreciate about them, comment on it in a favorable way. If that person senses your allegiance, they will be naturally drawn to you, and you may both learn to get along despite your differences.
8. Seek support
When an instigator's actions interfere with your work, or if their toxic behavior is violating company policy, you may need to get management or human resources involved, allowing them to take the reins and resolve. Don’t be afraid to take action to ensure that you maintain a positive and safe work environment.
PSAP leaders, be prepared to coach the toxic employee “up or out,” as soon as you spot a problem behavior. Most employees can be guided to better productivity and more positive work relationships. You, as their leader, need to act quickly and decisively.
Some people love drama so much they cannot seem to function without it. In this case, it is your duty to rise above it by addressing it. Challenge yourself daily in your work environment to make the best shifts possible for yourself and your team(s). And remember, avoidance and excuses won't get you results.