“Stress is an inevitable companion of any organization, - says Peter Frost, and this statement is hard to be disputed. – However, it is destructive only when people respond to it with negative emotions, rather than trying to remove it. Emotional stress is an essential element of the life of any organization, it is the reaction of people to it which determines whether it will acquire a malignant form, or, conversely, will spur the creative energy of a team” (Frost, 2003).
“Among people there is always a pain”, the author of the book Toxic Emotions at Work, Peter Frost, stated (Frost, 2003). In fact, much of this pain is accumulated in offices, banks, shops and various other places where a lot of people happen to be. The importance of emotional background research in an organization is a well-recognized fact; the behavior of companies and individuals can influence – and, in fact, it influences – the health of others. “Contagious” nature of emotions is being studied by many authoritative scholars of management – for example, Daniel Goleman, an author of the study of the phenomenon of emotional intelligence. Peter Frost explains in detail how negative emotions in the workplace appear, why this tension is so destructive and what should be done (Frost, 2003).
Negative emotions, of course, are inevitable in any company. Their corrupting influence is usually underestimated, because in most cases, everything comes to a norm somehow on its own. In fact, an unpleasant situation, whether it is a personal conflict or an unpopular reform, does not become detrimental to a company, because in a team there are people who can improve morale through empathy and good conduct, thus, helping “troublemakers” to re-focus on work . However, such “cleaners” or “healers” are paying a high price for the opportunity to “take the negative emotions of others for the good of a team” – the struggle with the negative influences the immune system of a human and intangible toxic emotions turn into a very real disease (Frost, 2003). Therefore, Frost pays a lot of attention to healing methods for “healers” especially (Frost, 2003). He shows what they can do on their own and what can be done by authorities, which are usually not aware either of any dangerous accumulation of pernicious emotions or of the scope of work undertaken by “a cleaner” (and, conversely, often serving as a source of toxic emotional situations) (Frost, 2003). In short, we the author created a good guide on building security for personnel from the “toxic” aspects of office life.
What is the source of the devastating emotional stress? It can be an aggressive, incompetent colleague, a rude customer, an unduly strict dress code, shadowing employees, a post control or access to the Internet, as well as dependence on new technologies, so-called “digital computer rage or depression” (Frost, 2003). With all these, a cut off wire from a mouse or a hit laptop against the wall are just material consequences of stress. Damage from constant “toxic emotions” applied to a human health is much more important – from low self-esteem and depression to heart attack and cancer.
However, most often, according to the author, the source of “toxic emotions” is authorities. “In some organizations their harassing behavior is completely unnoticed and uncontrolled”, - said Peter Frost (Frost, 2003). In fact, not only a Boss-tyrant can create lasting stress, regularly screaming at his subordinates, but also a charismatic leader. Charisma and pressure of a leader forces employees to work with maximum voltage, forgetting about their health and personal affairs; and they realize it only when it is a failure or a charismatic leader leaves. Still, often, at this point it is too late to fix anything. Peter Frost, examining in detail the behavior and mistakes of executives, offers ways out of seemingly intractable situations.
Peter Frost not only describes the causes of negative emotions and their corrupting influence of employees and a company as a whole in details. He offers his readers ways to manage emotional atmosphere in a team. Often, the author notes, any stress or conflict in an office can be solved “by itself” by invisible and undervalued work of “cleaners” or “healers” – people who have sympathy and empathy, and are ready just to listen, to reduce tension and improve the working environment, to return their colleagues and to re-focus on work. “These people are working at different levels of an organization. For example, secretaries often play the role of “vests” in which colleagues may complain. They are also known for their ability to “repackage” circumstances, harassing colleagues, and transfer them to the leadership, giving executives the view of a situation from the inside and the ability to act on the basis of data that employees prefer not to make public”, - the author notes (Frost, 2003).
The book by Peter J. Frost is exceptional for several reasons. First of all, he wrote it in a hospital, being terminally ill with cancer. Thinking about the causes of his illness (arising seemingly without any reasons), he came to the conclusion that negative or toxic emotions, which he wholly accepted in his professional life, could lead to such consequences. What is more, it is all due to the fact that he was sensitive to the emotional background, actually being kind of a cleaner – an absorber of toxic emotions, accumulating them in himself, not letting them out and clearing. When one realizes that this is his last battle on the earth, his actions are beyond reproach. Realizing the importance of a positive emotional environment at work, the author has devoted the last time to cover this topic comprehensively for the readers. He made all possible to his mistakes were not repeated.
It turns out that toxic emotions drastically affect a human body, including the cardiovascular and nervous systems, even much worse than alcohol. “Emotional stress can become a deadly poison for an organization or a vaccine from more serious diseases”. The same is true for any other situations. One should remember how easily negative emotions are spread – someone may start swearing like a squabble and this would force many others to participate. However, laughter is contagious, too. Being in a toxic environment, it is very easy to succumb to it. People are gregarious, despite all our individualism. It is, in fact, impossible to win here. The aim of the book is clear: to teach people to pay attention to such an informal part of their activities, as emotions. Because without such knowledge, there will be no prosperity in any organization.
What is more, Frost makes it clear that fish rots from the head. The higher in the corporate hierarchy a source of toxic emotions is, the greater the spread of infection become and the more people begin to imitate it in their own behavior. The role of cleaners in companies tends to fall on people with high emotional intelligence. However, no matter how strong they may be – if there are too many toxins, or if a cleaner cannot clean himself – there will definitely be a trouble. At least – it threatens a person to “burn” at work, to sign for a dismissal or in the most drastic consequence – it leads to death. The book has a lot of similar examples. In fact, the author himself is a real proof who paid an expensive price – his life.
Do not take something too seriously does not mean to be indifferent. In fact, the best cleaners are able to help others, not taking responsibility for the fact that their patients do specifically with the care they received. The problem with toxic emotions is not only at work, but in general, wherever there are people. It might be at home, on the street, in a circle of friends and family, in transport, or on the beach. Well, such troubles may happen virtually anywhere.
However, each of us can help to cleanse the world from toxic emotions. It can be started, of course, with yourself. Then, it should be popularized at work. Perhaps, it might be no longer needed – since when people stop taking all negative emotions from their working environment to the world, then, it automatically becomes clearer. In general, the universal happiness might be obtained. For example, there is a citation from the book:
A few years ago, one company refused to service a multi-million contract, which stand for the fifth part of its annual turnover. Employees were confused by the fact that management managed to go so far in protecting their interests, but at the same time, it gave them confidence in their company. Inspired by how the organization cared about them, they did their best to close the gap with new contracts (Frost, 2003).
Despite the fact how much desired it may be, emotions cannot be left outside the office door, Peter Frost concluded. Feelings of employees and their spirits must be taken into account. Dismissive attitude only negatively affects a situation in a community and leads to a loss of enthusiasm and loyalty. Today, the competitive advantage is given to those companies who are able to put themselves at the service of not only intellectual, but also emotional capacities of its staff. To go to work is a task not for weak people. Even very discreet people experience emotional stress in the office. In times of stress, people become vulnerable. Negative emotions cause bad thoughts that turn into dangerous beliefs and lead to physical illnesses and ailments. This is a way of Thanatos, the path of death. How to abandon this course is clearly explained in this book. A person can learn to control his/her emotions in the workplace, learn what to do to make emotions come to balance, how to be able to step back and deal with it, and find peace of mind. This book is for managers who want to control their emotions, not allowing them to grow into stress and frustration. HR-specialists will find this book helpful in creating a system of counter detrimental effects of toxic emotions in the office. Finally, the author concludes that such emotions take place; they are inevitable but still possible to be treated and removed. As a plus, he offers his readers an effective system for removing emotional stress. What is more, he supports his theories and suggestion with real life situations. Overall, the book is well-written and presents a perfect guide in a real day office situation. Peter Frost paid a high price for having an ability to provide people with such a precious guide to follow – he examined all situations through his own fate and experience. Consequently, this detail makes this book even more valuable.